SSFC Ladies battle back to beat Sunderland West End
South Shields Ladies came from behind to take all three points against Sunderland West End on Sunday.
Goals from Alex Miller and Caitlin Bates turned the tide at Harton Welfare after Shields fell behind early in the game.
West End took the lead early on as a powerful effort from inside the area hit the roof of the net, giving Scarlett Gowans no chance.
A great pass by Sophie White found Eve Gatens in space as the Mariners looked to respond, but her curling effort was held by the goalkeeper.
The visitors hit the bar after the ball was nicked away from Gowans, as a looping effort hit the upright and bounced clear.
Seconds later, Gatens found herself one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but her strike was somehow tipped over the bar.
From the resulting corner, Shields were level. Gatens’ perfect set-piece found Miller with the goal at her mercy, and her header was powered into the back of the net.
Miller nearly grabbed a second just before half-time. She connected with another inch-perfect corner, but this time it was glanced just wide.
Shields came close to taking the lead minutes after the break when Becki McMahon’s shot from inside the area was deflected wide.
Gatens had another great chance to put the Mariners in front as a mazy run gave the forward a chance at goal, but her final touch took the ball too close to the goalkeeper.
Bates then had an opportunity to give Shields the advantage. A floated ball into the box by Josie Foster found the forward, but her effort went just over the bar.
It wasn’t long before Bates found the back of the net. A lofted ball over the top of the defence saw Bates sent through on goal, and her powerful, left-footed effort picked out the bottom corner.
Bates hit the outside of the post as the hosts’ strong period continued. She tried to catch the goalkeeper out with a clever strike, and it was inches away from doubling Shields’ lead.
Annece Legg came close to killing the game. Her volley inside the box was excellently held by the goalkeeper.
Deep into stoppage time, it looked as though West End would snatch a late equaliser. A looping effort over Gowans looked destined for the net, but Miller somehow headed the ball off the line.
After the game, Shields head coach Ben Garrity said: “It was always going to be a hard game as we knew what to expect from Sunderland West End. We played them earlier this season and narrowly lost 3-2.
“I was very proud of the lasses for their hard work and determination to keep going and working hard for each other all the way to the final whistle.
“I think we knew from the opening few minutes that the game wasn’t going to be our best as the pitch was very heavy and bobbly, but in games like this you’ve got to work hard and be ruthless to take your chances when they come and that’s what we did.
“The thing that stood out for me is the desire to defend, summed up by Alex Miller’s goal line clearance which cemented the three points for us.
“I think the game summed up how far we’ve come in the short time I’ve been in charge in terms of togetherness, mentality and work ethic.
“We now look forward to this Sunday, our last game of 2021 in the County Cup against Wear United.”
Image: ID Event Photography.