I’ve mentioned it before, but there aren’t many clubs where I’ve watched their men’s first team, under-23/21/reserve team and their women’s team. Other than the likes of Sunderland, Newcastle United, Hartlepool United, Middlesbrough and York, there’s probably only a couple of clubs from outside the north-east that I’ve seen like that. Stoke are now one of them. In only the second game I ever wrote about, Stoke were away to Sunderland in the Premier League. I’ve watched their under-21s/under-23s a couple of times in the past few years, and today I’ve watched their women’s team. This game today was probably my most enjoyable game of the season so far. It was intriguing throughout, and as I thought before kick-off, Stoke are definitely one of the better teams in that division. Exactly a year ago today, I watched Easington Colliery fall to a 2-0 defeat at Ryton & Crawcrook Albion.
Injury time winner sees Stoke edge Sunderland Ladies
Emily Owen’s 94th minute strike gave Stoke City Ladies a 3-2 win in an entertaining game at Sunderland Ladies on Sunday afternoon.
Stoke took the lead through Amy Hughes with just 46 seconds played, but Sunderland were level within four minutes as Bridget Galloway equalised.
Still with less than six minutes played, Stoke regained their lead through Ashleigh Hayes, but Sunderland once again responded as Anna Young scored from close-range.
Following a dominant second half, Owen’s strike in the fourth minute of added time sealed the win for the Potters.
Stoke attacked from the off and it took them just 46 to break the deadlock. An initial effort was parried by Sophy Stonehouse, but Hughes was there to fire into the net from six yards.
However, Sunderland pulled level with their first chance and it was in very similar fashion to Stoke’s opener. Jordan Atkinson burst down the wing and cut in to shoot. Her effort was also parried, and Galloway was there to convert the rebound from close range.
Still inside five and a half minutes, Stoke regained their lead. Tash Tezgel’s perfectly weighted ball over the top played Hayes in and she kept her composure to slot home.
Atkinson and Emily Hutchinson both put crosses into the penalty are as Sunderland looked for another response, but Stoke dealt with them.
In the 12th minute, Atkinson’s cross was spilled by goalkeeper Molly Bruton and Galloway made contact with the ball. However, the England youth international couldn’t guide the past Bruton who was relieved to regain possession.
Louise Griffiths had an effort blocked in the 14th minute, and Molly Lambert’s long-range rebound was too high.
With just over quarter of an hour played, Stoke almost added a third. Hannah Keryakoplis collected possession outside of the penalty area and her drilled effort had Stonehouse beaten. However Keryakoplis’ effort crashed back off the crossbar.
And, seconds later, Sunderland were level. Griffiths’ cross dropped to Young who had gambled, and she took the ball round Bruton before tapping into an empty net.
There was a high tempo throughout the first half, but following Sunderland’s second equaliser, the chances started to settle down.
Just before the half hour mark, Galloway and Keira Ramshaw linked up for Sunderland with the latter finding Lambert. She took aim from 25 yards, but her effort was blocked.
At the other end, Cassie Hyde picked out Hughes, but she could only blaze wide.
With five minutes of the first half remaining, it was Sunderland’s turn to hit the crossbar. Good work from Ramshaw played Hutchinson in, but her effort trickled across goal and bounced back off the post.
Ramshaw drilled a free-kick narrowly over with the final chance of the first half.
Stoke started the second half on the front foot.
A throw in was flicked on to find Hughes in the 51st minute, but her stabbed effort was saved by Stonehouse.
Two minutes later, a sharp counter attack gave Sunderland a chance. Galloway picked out Ramshaw whose deflected effort was saved by Bruton.
A tame Atkinson effort was then saved by Bruton, before Kelsey Richardson fired wide at the other end after Keryakoplis’ original effort had been blocked.
A good save from Stonehouse prevented Keryakoplis just one minute later, and it was all Stoke at this point.
Richardson was next to try her luck for the Potters, but Stonehouse saved again.
A couple of Sunderland corners relieved the pressure on their back line halfway through the second half, but no chances were created from the dead balls.
Twenty minutes from time, Meg Bowyer floated a free-kick into the Sunderland penalty area. It fell to Owen at the back post, but her effort was straight at Stonehouse.
Although Stoke were certainly the better side in the second half, there was a sense that Sunderland could definitely have snatched a winner inside the final quarter of an hour.
A quick break saw Ramshaw find Galloway in the 80th minute, but her effort was saved by Bruton.
Five minutes later, Lambert, Young and Ramshaw all linked up for the hosts. Ramshaw’s low ball picked out Katie Barker, but her effort was crucially blocked only a couple of yards from goal.
Ella Pemberton and Keryakoplis both fired wide for Stoke City in the 89th minute, before a half chance came the way of Ramshaw at the other end. It came in the first minute of additional time, but she could only drag wide from 20 yards.
And, in the fourth minute of injury time, Stoke claimed the three points. Barker could only head a corner across her own goal, and Owen was there to blast home from four yards to give the visitors the win.
Full-time: Sunderland Ladies 2-3 Stoke City Ladies
Next up for me should be Ryhope CW vs Bishop Auckland on Tuesday night.
Sunderland Ladies: Stonehouse, Kemp, Mullen, McCatty, Griffiths, Young, Lambert, Atkinson (Barker, 64′), Hutchinson (Gibson, 82′), Ramshaw (c), Galloway
Unused subs: Stewart, Cowling, Warren
Stoke City Ladies: Bruton, Hudson, Hyde, Owen, Bowyer (c), Roberts (Robinson, 77′), Richardson (Pemberton, 77′), Tezgel, Keryakoplis, Hughes, Hayes (Chipman, 90′)
Unused sub: McCoy
Admission: £4 adults, £2 concessions
Attendance: About 150
Bottle of water: 90p
Referee: Lucy Oliver