NEWS - 14 Sept 2008
Sunderland Women will consider themselves unfortunate, as they were eliminated from the League Cup by promotion rivals Lincoln Ladies today. The girls suffered their first defeat of the season, as Lincoln triumphed 3-1 after extra time.

Sunderland were dealt an early blow, as they fell behind after just four minutes. Michalska chased a through ball for the home side and although Gemma Wilson beat her to the ball, her attempted clearance under pressure, fell to Wallis who made no mistake from the edge of the area. Sunderland regrouped and a long range shot from Kelly McDougall went wide. They again went close from a free kick on 15 minutes, when the ball was whipped in by Demi Stokes and flicked on at the near post, but the follow up went over the bar.
Lincoln were the next to threaten on 26 minutes, when a long free kick fell to Little in the area and her shot was deflected wide via the outside of the post. From the resultant corner, Wilson headed clear from under her own bar and the ball fell to Ward on the edge of the area, whose lobbed effort was cleared off the line by Stokes. The first half was becoming a very tightly contested affair, with both midfields vying for supremacy and chances at a premium. Five minutes before the break, Nicola Devine’s persistence paid off, as she robbed the Lincoln defence on the by-line and pulled the ball back for Natalie Gutteridge whose close range effort was well blocked by Lincoln keeper Hawke. Sunderland went close again on the stroke of half time, as another dangerous corner by Stokes was volleyed goalwards by Gutteridge, but again Hawke was equal to the task and turned the ball wide. Half time … OHH Lincoln 1 – 0 Sunderland

Sunderland started brightly in the second half, as their passing game began to look more fluent and Steph Bannon had a free kick from the left, palmed out by Hawke and cleared to safety. The scores were level on 52 minutes when Gutteridge tried a long range effort which was blocked, but Sarah Danby showed good anticipation to follow up and as the ball ran free in the box, she drilled past the keeper from 10 yards. Sunderland were handed a reprieve five minutes later, as a long ball downfield cleared the defence and fell to Durrands, but she blazed her shot over the bar. The game was now more open and Lucy Bronze was unlucky when her powerful shot from the edge of the area, was straight at the keeper. Back came Lincoln and the ever dangerous Michalska latched on to a through ball from Barr which drew a fine save from Helen Alderson. The ensuing corner caused confusion in the area and eventually the ball was cleared off the line. Midway through the second half, Danby pounced on an attempted defensive header which fell short of Hawke, and although she beat the keeper, the ball went agonisingly into the side netting. With a quarter of an hour of normal time remaining, a Lincoln free kick to the far post was bravely claimed by Alderson under pressure from two Lincoln attackers. Sophie Williams replaced Nicola Devine with ten minutes to go and she wasted little time in making her presence felt, as she threw herself into some hard but fair challenges. Lincoln had a good chance to wrap things up two minutes before full time, but Barr’s cheeky chip from a long ball fell just over the bar. However, Sunderland were the last to threaten in regulation time, when penalty appeals were waved away by the referee, but the ball fell for Abby Holmes whose shot was turned wide by the keeper. In the final minute, a cross from the industrious Vicky Greenwell was headed wide by Williams. Full time … OHH Lincoln 1 – 1 Sunderland.

Sunderland started extra time brightly and were desperately unlucky not to take the lead, when a superb 30 yard effort from Gutteridge cannoned off the bar. Lincoln capitalised on their reprieve a minute later when Michalska raced onto a loose ball and although Stokes challenged her, the ball fell kindly for the striker, who coolly slotted the ball under the advancing Alderson. Both teams were tiring in the hot conditions, but Williams produced a long range volley which flew over the bar, and her energy again produced a chance from the left, but Danby’s header was straight at the keeper. Just before the break, a through ball from Gutteridge released Williams on the left and her cut back fell for McDougall on the edge of the area, but her effort was just wide. Early in the second half Williams won the ball on the edge of the area and broke through two challenges, but Little again came to Lincoln’s rescue. The subsequent corner caused a scramble in the box but the home defence cleared. Lincoln wrapped up the game with a goal worthy of winning the tie, four minutes into the second half. As Sunderland pressed for an equaliser, Lincoln cleared high towards the halfway line and Michalska showed great technique to bring the ball instantly under control and release the ball to Ward on the left. She played a searching crossfield pass to Barr who had broken from defence, who hit her shot first time into the far corner, giving Alderson no chance. Jordan Atkinson replaced Gutteridge for the last five minutes and injected some energy into tired legs, but the game had slipped out of reach, with Lincoln happy to run the clock down.

Manager Mick Mulhern was in bullish mood after the game. “3-1 wasn’t really a fair reflection of the match. All three goals came from mistakes, with the third coming as we pushed for an equaliser. Lincoln are the favourites to win the league this year and we proved that we can compete with them. We played well, created good chances and showed good fitness levels. There are more positives than negatives to take from the game. The league is our priority and if we can learn from our mistakes, we will be there or thereabouts at the end of the season.”
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