By Lloyd Webb

Summary

Arsenal Ladies were held to a goalless draw by Sunderland Ladies in their opening game of the WSL Spring Series.

While the Gunners monopolised possession, the hosts had the best chance of the first half when Dominique Bruinenberg's close-range header tested Sari van Veenendaal.

Danielle van de Donk, Katie McCabe and Heather O’Reilly all came close after the break, but the visitors were unable to find a winner despite their domination.
 

SETTING THE SCENE

Pedro Martinez Losa handed academy product Anna Patten her first start in central defence, while off-season signing  O’Reilly made her league debut.

Leah Williamson, Kim Little and Emma Mitchell all missed out due to injury, but captain Alex Scott returned to the starting XI following a setback on international duty.

Jordan Nobbs started in midfield against her former club, while ex-Sunderland striker Beth Mead was among the substitutes.
 

First half

The Gunners were in the ascendancy from the get go, forcing Sunderland to soak up pressure and play on the counter attack.

The hosts soon won a free-kick out wide which saw Bruinenberg direct a header on goal, but Van Veenendaal managed to claw it away from close range.  

Arsenal weren’t able to truly test goalkeeper Anke Preuss as the Lady Black Cats’ defence restricted the visitors to shots from outside the box. 
 

Second half

Losa’s side were on the offensive after the restart and almost took the lead after O’Reilly’s fine footwork, but the midfielder dragged a low drive wide.

Bruinenberg tested her fellow countryman Van Veenendaal again moments later, but the goalkeeper was able to tip the midfielder’s stinging effort over the bar. 

The woodwork denied Van de Donk minutes before the hour mark, but the referee had already blown her whistle for an earlier foul.

Arsenal continued to apply pressure, but Sunderland’s resolute defending meant Losa’s side had to settle for a point in their Spring Series opener.  

Arsenal Ladies

1
van Veenendaal
24
Wubben-Moy
2
Scott (C)
32
Patten
20
Janssen
8
Nobbs
21
van de Donk
9
Carter
4
Williams
17
O'Reilly
18
Taylor

Substitutes

15
McCabe
23
Mead
7
Kelly
13
Moorhouse
11
Humphrey

Sunderland Ladies

31
Preuss
5
Bannon (C)
2
Holmes
21
Williams
14
Sharp
20
Bruinenberg
10
Roche
28
Hill
37
Staniforth
17
Joice
30
Leon

Substitutes

6
Watt
7
Ramshaw
27
Stonehouse
Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source
2 May 2017