Doncaster Rovers Belles 1 Sunderland 4
Doncaster Rovers Belles suffered their tenth straight FAWSL1 defeat as Sunderland came from behind to win a feisty relegation six-pointer at the Keepmoat Stadium.
Left back Mayumi Pacheco put Belles in front with a tap-in - just their fourth league goal this term.
But Sunderland turned the game on its head with two goals in five minutes shortly before the break, including one from former Belles defender Victoria Williams, before putting the game to bed in the second half.
Victory moved the Lady Black Cats nine points clear of Belles, who have six games left to dig themselves out of danger.
The visitors went close early on through Beth Mead but it was Belles who went ahead on the quarter hour mark. Sophie Barker’s cross from the right was headed onto her own bar by Williams and Pacheco was left with a simple tap-in.
Belles had something to cling onto and looked in a confident mood, only to then ship two poor goals in quick succession before the break.
Mead did well to make space and play in Williams but her low shot, which crept into the corner, should have been dealt with by Belles goalkeeper Nicola Hobbs.
Five minutes later Abby Holmes was given the freedom of the left flank to make her way into the area and fire home from a tight angle with the aid of a slight deflection.
Midway through the second period Hobbs atoned for her earlier error by superbly saving Mead’s penalty after Barker was harshly adjudged to have handballed in the box.
But from the resultant corner Belles failed to clear and Kelly McDougall acrobatically volleyed in at the back post.
The third goal knocked the stuffing out of Doncaster and they fell further behind late on when substitute Madelaine Hill got in behind and volleyed into the far corner.
BELLES: Hobbs, Barker, Little, Roberts, Pacheco, Simpkins (Raynor 59), Tierney, Lipka, Humphrey, Omarsdottir (Bakowska-Mathew 77), Murray (Cresswell 84). Subs not used: Moorhouse, Newborough, O’Donnell.
SUNDERLAND: Laws, Williams, Bannon, Sharp, Holmes, McDougall, Staniforth, Ramshaw (Kelly 87), Joice (Brown 72), Mead, Roche (Hill 79). Subs not used: Olsen, Beer, Leon.
REFEREE: R Wootton