Sunderland marked their return to the Women’s Championship with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Coventry United.
The Red and Greens were back at Butts Park for the first time since turning professional but could not overcome a dogged and determined Black Cats side.
A single goal by winger Jessica Brown was enough to split the sides despite chances by both teams.
Sunderland edge opening day affair
The first half was an edgy and scrappy affair with both teams taking time to settle into the rhythm of the game.
Nat Johnson and Destiney Toussaint linked up well for Coventry United down the left flank. Toussaint then switched wings and found striker Katie Wilkinson who’s deflected shot on goal was inches wide.
Charlotte Potts, back in the Sunderland side for the fifth time was resolute in defence. Emma Kelly dictated the play with a dominant midfield performance.
Keira Ramshaw and United goalkeeper Olivia Clark suffered a very nasty clash with Clark requiring stitches to her mouth.
Ramshaw was able to continue playing and after a good run down the right found Brown who fired low into the goal.
Head coaches view
Naturally, head coach Jay Bradford was not happy with Coventry’s performance. Speaking to Coventry United’s media she said they ‘couldn’t control the game on the ball or off the ball.’
However, Bradford was pleased with moments of the game where they did follow the game plan and she believed her team ‘played well out of defence in finding the midfielders but then it may break down.’
Sunderland head coach Melanie Reay was delighted with both the performance and the result and Speaking to Sunderland’s media after the match she said ‘they were fit, they had desire and they stuck to their plan.’
Sunderland will be delighted going into their next game at the Stadium of Light against Blackburn Rovers. Coventry United will need to learn from the match and be ready for their next challenge away to Charlton Athletic.