Arsenal scored twice before half-time to keep the pressure on Manchester City in the race for second in FA Women’s Super League 1 as they beat Sunderland 2-0.
It was a solid start from both sides, but Arsenal were proving the more incisive going forward and took the lead in the tenth minute through Kim Little.
The skipper gathered a cut-back from the left side of the box before lashing an effort into the net via a wicked deflection.
Arsenal were dominant in possession and went close courtesy of slick attacking play which saw Jordan Nobbs feed Mead on the right side of the area. She laid it off for Katie Evans, who found Danielle Carter with a cross. However, the striker’s header went inches past the post.
But the Gunners wouldn’t be denied a second 5 minutes later as Mead capitalised on direct left wing play to convert a low cross at the back post. She would then have one cleared off the line by Victoria Williams as the away side looked to put the game to bed before half-time.
Arsenal continued to press in the second half, as Carter forced a smart save from Rachel Laws just before the hour-mark prior to Danielle Van de Donk’s low strike being smothered by the Sunderland stopper moments later.
Sunderland midfield Lucy Staniforth said: “I thought we were rubbish. Everything that we had done so well against Chelsea just went out of the window.
“We need to have a long hard look at ourselves. If you want to compete at this level, you need to be consistent.
“The bare minimum is hard work, to do your job and graft. You need to put your body on the line. In the first half, we just didn’t fancy it and we weren’t at the races.”
Arsenal goal-scorer Kim Little said: “Our home form this season has been great but our away form has let us down.
“We have spoken about coming to away games which are a little bit messy, not as good pitches, and just being professional and getting the job done. I thought we did that.
“We got two goals in the first half and controlled the game completely. Scoring in the first half is so important, especially in these away games. Giving us that confidence at half-time, we controlled the game and limited them to not many chances at all. As a team, we just want the three points.”
Manchester City recovered from a week in which they surrendered their FAWSL 1 title to move a step closer to Champions League football after a convincing 5-0 win against Yeovil Town in which Nikita Parris scored a hat-trick.
It took the whole of the first half for Nick Cushing’s side to find the breakthrough but they did so in style when Claire Emslie cut in from the left to thrash home an effort into the top corner.
Yeovil had defended stoutly up to that point and caused their hosts problems, but the blow of conceding just before half-time appeared to hit them hard and they struggled in the second period.
City took complete control early in the second half when Emslie turned provider to cross for Parris to score her first of the night with a simple tap-in past Megan Walsh.
Parris got her second soon after to put the game beyond doubt when she diverted home an effort from Georgia Stanway, the midfielder’s effort appeared to be heading wide before Parris stroked it home.
Less than two minutes later Parris had her hat-trick and City had her fourth when the striker broke the offside trap to get on the end of Esme Morgan’s through ball.
Parris rounded Walsh with ease and tapped into an empty net to put gloss on the score line as Yeovil began to tire late on.
There was still time for a fifth as Parris continued to threaten the Yeovil defence and won a penalty after Bow Jackson brought her down in the area. It allowed substitute Izzy Christiansen to step up and smash her effort into the bottom corner for 5-0.
Manchester City manager Nick Cushing said: “We knew we’d need a goal to settle us down because of the week that we’ve had. The confidence is a little bit low and there’s a lot at stake now because we want that Champions League spot because of the previous experiences we’ve had in the competition.
“We came out second half more relaxed, the football was more free-flowing, we created opportunities and that’s why we won 5-0. We’ve struggled at times to hurt teams in behind and we know what Parris brings.
“She stretches the game and it worked tonight, whether we do it against Everton I don’t know yet but we knew stretching them tonight would work for us, Nikita was excellent.”
Yeovil first team coach Ross Moon said: “I think if you take into account the schedule for us it was always going to be tough when you take into account the travelling we do, the miles we cover then it’s always going to be tough.
“The facilities that are available to us mean we’re always going to struggle in games like this but if I said I was proud of the girls that would be an understatement.
“I can’t give them enough praise as coaching staff, today’s a prime example that hard work will get you there but when you need that technical bit of quality I think you’ve got to take your chances and that let us down at times.”
Ellie Gilliatt scored a superb hat-trick as Sheffield cemented their place in fifth in FA Women’s Super League 2 with a 5-0 win away to Watford.
After their first win of the campaign last Sunday, Watford looked full of confidence and they had plenty of possession without being able to find the final ball.
Still, they needed keeper Fran Kitching to be at her best as she made crucial saves from Melissa Johnson and Hannah Cain before half-time.
Sheffield hit the front not long after the break with Cain firing home from 12 yards out and Johnson wrapped up the points with 22 minutes to go following a defensive mix-up.
Gilliatt’s brilliant left-footed strike made it 3-0, before she followed that up with a ferocious hit from 15 yards two minutes from time. And she completed her hat-trick deep into injury-time with a simple tap-in to complete the convincing win.
Watford manager Armand Kavaja said: “You could not see that score by the way we played in the first half so it was really tough on the girls.
“We were in the game for a long period, aside from the late goals, and that’s been building up for a long period over recent games.
“We have to learn to maintain looking after the ball and that will come with experience.”
Sheffield FC manager Zoe Johnson said: “Watford made it difficult for us in the first half because they exploited our game plan but we went back in and told them to stick what we were supposed to do.
“The girls came out and it was a fantastic reaction in the second half to score five goals.
“Ellie’s been on 69 goals and dying to get that goal. She’s been looking for the 70th, the game was opening up so we thought use her pace, get the ball in to her and Ellie did the rest.”
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