Maria weaves her magic in Cats’ win
MARIA Farrugia scored an incredible solo goal as Sunderland Ladies came from behind to beat Sheffield Women 2-1 in the FA Women’s National League Northern Premier Division.
The away side took the lead through Holly Housley’s penalty in the first half before Keira Ramshaw drew the hosts level with a powerful header moments later.
With 20 minutes remaining, Farrugia’s superb jinking run and strike secured the three points for the Black Cats.
With confidence high following the previous weekend’s victory over Fylde Ladies, Sunderland flew out of the blocks.
Abbey Joice played in Jessica Brown, who fired straight at Laura Parsons.
Then captain Ramshaw clipped the outside of the post from 20 yards.
Brown was a threat in the opening stages, collecting Ramshaw’s low pass on the edge of the box but Parsons saved her shot well.
After weathering the early storm Sheffield started to settle into game, Housley and Charlie Docherty both shooting high over Claudia Moan’s goal.
Just before the break, the visitors took the lead.
Rebecca Knight was judged to have been fouled in the box and Housley converted the resulting spot kick, smashing the ball past Moan.
However, Sunderland hit back almost immediately.
Emily Scarr won a corner on the left and her in-swinging delivery found Ramshaw free in the area and she powerfully headed home.
With half-time near, Mel Reay’s side continued to push forward - Brown firing wide from a tight angle and Louise Griffiths glancing her header wide of the post.
The Wearsiders started the second period on the front foot, Griffiths and Farrugia testing Parsons and Scarr hitting the bar with a 25-yard free-kick.
Despite Sunderland’s dominance, Sheffield continued to create opportunities of their own, Moan called on to deny Docherty and then Knight. With 20 minutes remaining, Farrugia produced her moment of magic.
The Malta international collected the ball in midfield and drove at the Sheffield defence.
She skipped past several challenges before unleashing an unstoppable shot into the bottom corner.
Substitute Holly Manders almost extended the lead, cutting in on her left foot only to see her curling shot blocked by lastditch defending.
The forward then hit the base of the post after her corner was cleared.
The win moves Sunderland to within four points of top spot with a trip to fourthplaced West Brom Women up next.
SUNDERLAND: Moan, Beer, Herron, Griffiths, McCatty, Ramshaw, Joice, Farrugia, Brown ( Warren 85 mins, Scarr (McInnes 76’, Blakey (Manders 62). Subs not used: Cowling, Studholme.