Sunderland edge closer to Premier League title

By Tony LeightonWomen's football correspondent

Sunderland moved to within four points of retaining their Women's Premier League crown with a win at Charlton.

But second in the table Leeds United won against Reading to keep alive their hopes of snatching the title.

In the opening games of Super League's Continental Cup, holders Arsenal won at Liverpool and last year's runners-up Birmingham City beat Everton.

There were also victories for Bristol Academy at Doncaster Belles, and for Lincoln who beat Chelsea.

Women's Premier League

Charlton Athletic 0-2 Sunderland

Two first-half goals in rapid succession were enough to give the Black Cats a victory that put them within sight of taking the title again.

Natalie Gutteridge headed in the 13th-minute opener and four minutes later, also with a header, Rachel Furness doubled the lead.

Kit Graham and Courtney Gibson both had chances to reduce the arrears, but the champions elect ran out worthy winners.

With Sunderland and Leeds each having only two games of the season left and the Black Cats currently three points clear, four more points will see them finish top.

Reading 0-3 Leeds United

Leeds are guaranteed a top-two place after a win that took them beyond the maximum points now available to any of the teams in the chasing pack.

Clare Sykes put the visitors on the road to victory with a 35th-minute goal, but it took them until the closing stages to wrap up the three points.

Amy Turner edged the visitors further in front after 73 minutes and Sarah Danby completed the scoring 10 minutes from time.

Aston Villa 0-0 Barnet

Fourth in the table Barnet moved to within a point of third-placed Charlton after a game they would have won but for Villa goalkeeper Megan Walsh.

Villa had the better of the first half, but the Bees took control after the break only to be denied victory by a string a fine saves from Walsh.

Cardiff City 0-2 Coventry City

Coventry stayed fifth in the table, and with games in hand on all the teams above them, with a well-earned win.

Jade Formaston put the Sky Blues in front seven minutes before half-time and Nicole Dale hit what proved the victory clincher 13 minutes into the second half.

Continental Cup, group stage

Liverpool 0-3 Arsenal

Jennifer Beattie headed Arsenal into a 20th-minute lead and seven minutes later Steph Houghton nudged them further in front with a goal from close range.

Liverpool hit back and were unlucky not score when Michelle Evans saw her powerful drive strike the crossbar.

But the Gunners were never in trouble after Ellen White had grabbed the third goal with a low 68th-minute shot.

Birmingham City 1-0 Everton

A hard-fought contest was settled a minute from time, Jodie Taylor hitting the winner from the penalty spot after Laura Bassett had been fouled by Gwennan Harries.

Chelsea 1-2 Lincoln

Precious Hamilton gave Lincoln a 49th-minute lead, but it lasted only eight minutes as Helen Bleazard levelled the scores.

A further eight minutes on, however, Lucy Staniforth struck the game's decisive goal direct from a corner kick.

Doncaster Rovers Belles 0-1 Bristol Academy

Nikki Watts, a scorer in Bristol's 3-0 FA Cup win against Leeds last week, was on target again with a 74th-minute winner.