Sunderland win promotion to Women's Super League top flight

By Tony LeightonWomen's football reporter
Kelly McDougall
Kelly McDougall, Rachel Furness, Kiera Ramshaw and Abbey Joice scored Sunderland's goals

Sunderland clinched promotion to the top flight of the Women's Super League on the last day of the season.

The Black Cats secured the title ahead of Doncaster Rovers Belles with a 4-0 win at Millwall Lionesses.

The Belles had to settle for second spot despite a 9-0 win over London Bees as they finished two points adrift.

Kelly McDougall, Rachel Furness, Keira Ramshaw and Abbey Joice were on the scoresheet for the new WSL2 champions.

It could have been a far more comfortable final day for the Black Cats if they had wrapped up the title when they entertained Doncaster three weeks ago.

They were then eight points clear of their rivals, and although the Belles had a game in hand, a home victory would have ensured their promotion.

Instead Donny won a tight match 2-1, and then won their game in hand to set up the last-day showdown.

And it threatened to be some showdown as the Belles made an explosive start at London Bees, racing into a 4-0 lead in the opening 17 minutes.

Bethany England, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk, Jess Sigsworth and Mille Bright were the scorers as Donny made their goal difference nine better than Sunderland's and ensured they would take the title if their rivals drew.

But as Bright's strike hit the net the Black Cats were taking the lead at Millwall, McDougall curling a 20-yard shot into the top corner.

That left the leaders in the driving seat, albeit not comfortably so, and Donny cranked up the pressure through an Anneka Nuttall own goal that left them five ahead at the interval.

Sunderland's 1-0 advantage was keeping them on course for the top flight, however, and in the 63rd minute their vital second goal was headed in by Furness.

The WSL2 title was made safe with another two goals in the following five minutes as Ramshaw brilliantly volleyed home before Joice smashed a shot into the roof of the net.

Sue Smith, Bright, Rhiannon Roberts and Sweetman-Kirk added another four for Doncaster, but their biggest league win of the season proved in vain.