With a number of teams either involved in cup ties or not scheduled to play, only three games took place in the Southern Premier on Sunday; Sunderland travelled to Huddersfield, Middlesbrough and Derby both looked to close the gap on the top 3, while Stoke looked to return to winning ways when they visited Loughborough University Stadium to face Foxes.
Sunderland come from behind to go top.
The big one.
The Black Cats travelled to Huddersfield in a game that pitted two sides, who could only be separated by goals scored at the top of the table, against one another.
Huddersfield made the perfect start. With only 3 minutes on the clock, Ellie White gave the Terriers an early lead, capitalising after Sunderland failed to clear.
However, Huddersfield was unable to build on their fantastic start, and the visitors looked more likely to score next. Galloway, who had already found the net in every game this season, tested Olivia Clark in the Huddersfield goal after 19 minutes.
Despite pressure and chances, it took until the 46th minute for Sunderland to restore parity, captain Keira Ramshaw taking advantage of a handling error to draw level.
Katie Barker and Grace McCatty both scored within three minutes to complete the comeback and give the Black Cats a two-goal cushion with 20 minutes remaining.
Bridget Galloway scored her eighth goal of a season, rounding off a fantastic second-half performance by Sunderland, and ended the game as a contest in the 80th minute.
The result sees Sunderland summit the table having taken 13 from a possible 15 points. Huddersfield fall to second place, with Burnley sitting in third with 10 points and a game in hand over both teams above them.
Huddersfield Town 1-4 Sunderland
Rams raid North East to move third.
Both sides came into the game looking to bounce back from defeats and, with a number of teams around them not in league action, exert pressure on the teams currently above them in the table.
Derby started the more positive side, forcing saves from Boro ‘keeper Sammy Leigh, before breaking the deadlock after 15 minutes, Sophie Domingo firing into the bottom corner from the edge of the box to give the visitors a deserved lead.
The Rams thought they had doubled their lead after 35 minutes but was adjudged to have been offside.
Tyler Dodds drew the hosts level just before the interval, an unfortunate Kellogg spilling a routine catch to allow the Boro winger to score.
An hour into the contest and hosts almost reversed their fortunes to take the lead following a quick break, Dodds’ effort forcing a fine fingertip save from Kellogg.
Derby restored their lead with less than 15 minutes remaining, a ball into the box found Rai, whose cross was met by Hannah Keryakoplis to score her sixth goal of the season.
The contest was settled late on after Emma Brown turned the ball into her own net giving Derby a two-goal advantage.
The result sees Derby bounce back from defeat to move up to fourth, while Boro fall two places to sixth after back-to-back home defeats.
Middlesbrough 1-3 Derby County
Hall secures points for Potters.
Foxes started the season an emphatic 3-7 win which saw them top the table, but with no wins and only one goal since – while results may not be indicative of performances – they are on a bad run and currently sit 10th. Their opposition, Stoke, has also experienced a blip recently after back-to-back league defeats, a disappointing setback after taking maximum points from their opening two games.
There was some nice play from both sides, but neither was able to break the deadlock in a half that saw very few genuine goal-scoring opportunities.
Within minutes of the restart the visitors took the lead, a fluid passing move culminated with a Kelsey Richardson defence-splitting through ball to Ali Hall, who showed great composure to slot it past Amy Burle.
Familiar patterns soon returned, with both sides showing intent and having their moments, but ultimately unable to carve out any clear cut chances; defenders and keepers once again coming out on top or forcing shots from distance.
Abby Hunt combined with Smith late on to create an opportunity just inside the box, possibly the best chance of the game other than the goal, but Hunt was leaning back as she struck the ball and fired over.
Shortly after, Knight almost benefited from a high press.
A hard fought win for Stoke sees them return to winning ways, while Foxes suffered a fourth consecutive league defeat.
Loughborough Foxes 0-1 Stoke City