Keira Ramshaw scored twice as Sunderland won at Derby County to secure their second win of pre-season.
The Black Cats captain cancelled out Emily Joyce’s early opener, with Neve Herron and summer signing Emma Kelly giving the visitors a commanding 3-1 lead at half-time. Ramshaw doubled her tally after the hour before Ellie Gilliatt pulled another goal back the Ewes.
Mel Reay welcomed back Herron from international duty and Louise Griffiths for the trip to the East Midlands, the duo replacing Abbey Joice and Megan Beer.
In awful conditions, Derby started the brighter and struck the post through Jodie Michalska in the opening seconds. With Sunderland slow to react, the home side took advantage with eight minutes played, Claudia Moan pulling off a superb double save but she was unable to keep out Joyce’s finish from close-range.
Sunderland responded immediately, Herron winning a challenge in midfield then playing the ball out wide to Griffiths who crossed for Ramshaw to flick in at the near post.
Moments later Herron, who featured for England under-19s last week, broke clear of the defence to coolly finish into the bottom corner.
The game became scrappy in between the torrential rain showers with both sides being restricted to long-range. First Maria Farrugia fired over and then tested the Derby keeper from 20-yards, with Michalska also trying her luck at the other end.
Heading into the final five minutes of the opening period, Kelly extended Sunderland’s advantage, netting her first goal since returning to Wearside from Birmingham City last month. Grace McCatty’s header was cleared to Kelly six yards out and she curled the ball into the far corner.
Chances were scarce after the break as the weather worsened, Charlotte Potts’ flashing a swerving freekick narrowly wide and Farrugia unable to find the target, but Sunderland made it four with 20 minutes remaining. Griffiths battled through two challenges and played the ball into Herron and her shot was parried out to Ramshaw who tapped home.
Derby turned up the pressure in the final stages, Gilliatt forcing substitute Alison Cowling to save from a tight angle. The midfielder got her goal, and Derby’s second, with 13 minutes remaining when she collected the ball 20 years out and unleashed an unstoppable drive high into the net.
Sunderland were able to see the game out to pick up consecutive pre-season victories, and will round off their Women’s Championship preparations against Manchester United under-23s at the Academy of Light on Sunday 15 August.
Sunderland: Moan, Mullen, McCatty, Potts, Griffiths, Kelly, Herron, Farrugia, Brown, Scarr, Ramshaw.
Subs: Cowling, Beer, McInnes, Manders, Blakey.
Photo: Chris Fryatt