NEWS - 31 Aug 2008
Sunderland continued to press and after 25 minutes, a long goal kick fell for Nicola Devine on the left. She surged into the box and crossed but the defence cleared for another corner under pressure from Danby. On 32 minutes a defence splitting pass from Gemma Wilson saw Kelly McDougall race clear on goal. She pushed the ball past the onrushing keeper but a terrific challenge prevented an equaliser.

The pressure continued to build and once again after 38 minutes the Wednesday defence was caught out by a through ball. This time it was Natalie Gutteridge playing the ball through from midfield and into the path of a superbly timed run from Lucy Bronze. Bronze had perhaps a little too much time to think about the chance and was thwarted by another good save by Maslin. Just two minutes later good work by Stokes released Danby who cut inside from the right. Her shot from the edge of the area was flying into the bottom corner, but once again a fantastic save from Maslin prevented an equaliser. Sunderland were not to be denied for too much longer. With 45 minutes on the clock, Bronze won the ball in midfield and played the ball into space on the left. Devine reacted quicker than the defence and crossed for Danby to hit the ball into the roof of the net. The girls were inspired by the goal and took the lead in stoppage time. Holmes surged forward through midfield and played in Stokes on her right. Stokes steadied herself and smashed the ball over the keeper from 18 yards. HT Sunderland 2 Sheffield Wed 1.

The girls came out clearly lifted in the second half and looked to press home their advantage. Desperate defending after 50 minutes denied Devine who was waiting for a pull back from Danby, and on 56 minutes Gutteridge had the ball in the net from a Stokes corner but the referee had blown for a foul. Danby saw a shot go wide and a McDougall effort from the edge of the area was straight at the keeper. The left sided partnership of Vicky Greenwell and Devine was causing a lot of problems, and on the hour mark, a superb goal by Gutteridge increased Sunderland’s advantage. Danby’s left footed cross was controlled on the chest by Gutteridge, who turned and hammered the ball into the roof of the net under pressure from the defence. Wednesday were finding it difficult to deal with the vision and industry of Sunderland’s midfield, and Danby’s pace up front caused further problems when she burst through and crossed for strike partner Gutteridge after 68 minutes. Gutteridge appeared to be fouled in the area but the referee waved away the appeals. Further great work by Danby saw her break through on goal but her cross-shot went agonisingly wide.

Wednesday were largely camped in their own half but a sweeping move nearly saw them pull a goal back after 75 minutes. A pinpoint crossfield ball from Mitchell fell to Barker, who hit a powerful volley from the edge of the area, which saw Alderson produce a breathtaking one handed save to turn the shot onto the bar. An inspired substitution saw Gutteridge and Danby replaced by Sophie Williams and Steph O’Brien with a quarter of an hour to go, and the two combined to sew the game up after 77 minutes. Williams eluded her marker on the left and put a teasing low cross into the box, which was powered home by O’Brien. The game was over as a contest but a box to box move with five minutes to go nearly increased the lead. Bannon won the ball halfway inside the Sunderland half, and the ball was played through the midfield to Williams on the left. Her cross found Bannon who had continued her run but her effort flew wide. With the game won, Lynsey Fletcher replaced the impressive Stokes in the final minute and did a good job of closing down the Wednesday defence, as the girls coasted into the next round.

Manager Mick Mulhern commented after the game : “The girls showed a lot of character to come back from a goal down. We have a number of new players in the team and you never know how they will react when things go against them but we stuck to the game plan and didn’t panic. It was an excellent team performance”.
Sunderland women overcame an early setback to run out eventual comfortable winners against Sheffield Wednesday.

The visitors started brightly and Steph Bannon cut out an attempted through ball after five minutes. Four minutes later the visitors attacked again down the left, and Abby Holmes produced a good tackle to concede a corner. From the kick which was played short, Gingell engineered a shot for herself which Helen Alderson did well to save at the near post. The reprieve was short lived, however. Two minutes later a deep cross from the left by Smith was superbly finished on the volley by Skeemer. Sunderland began to find their feet and produced their best chance of the game on 18 minutes. There appeared little danger when Holmes played a long ball down the right flank, but Demi Stokes gave chase and forced the Wednesday defence to concede a free kick near the by line. The kick was headed away for a corner, but from the corner a melee in the box fell to Sarah Danby, whose side footed effort was saved by the impressive Maslin in the Wednesday goal.
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