Sunderland ended all square with Leeds United in the group stage of the League Cup and now both sides progress to the last 16 of the competiton.
Beth Mead scored both goals for the Lady Black Cats in what was a repeat of the final last year, when Leeds went down 2-1. After a two-week break, Sunderland went into the fixture refreshed, on a very cold and frosty day. The early action on the field was red-hot though, with some feisty, tackles from both sides. The first real chance came from Kelly McDougall, who latched onto a cross from Natalie Gutteridge, but turned the ball wide. The link-up play between Mead and Gutteridge looked threatening in the early stages, and good work from Gutteridge set up a chance for Bannon, who headed over.
After absorbing the early pressure, Leeds began to grow into the game and almost scored with a drive from midfield just going over Rachael Laws� bar. But Sunderland took the lead late on in the half, as the Gutteridge and Mead combination caused problems once more and England under 19 striker Mead slotted home.
The battle throughout the game was in the centre of the park, as both teams tried to stamp their authority on the game. Leeds went looking for an equaliser as Carey Huegett latched onto a loose ball but was denied by a great challenge from Gemma Wilson. Soon after the opener, the home side drew level through Huegett, who fired in after a goalmouth scramble in the Sunderland box. Rachel Furness powered a shot from distance which just skimmed the Leeds post, but at half-time the sides went in level.
HT� Leeds 1 v 1 Sunderland
The Lady Black Cats came out firing, and regained the lead early in the second half. A mistake by the Leeds defence led to Keira Ramshaw picking up the ball inside the area, and from her parried effort, the nippy Mead fired into the net from a narrow angle. As the game became stretched, Leeds found a second equaliser when Abi Lee hit the net. Sunderland responded well to the set-back, and after a good flowing move involving Ramshaw, Greenwell and Gutteridge, Rachel Furness hit a fantastic long-range effort which flew agonisingly past the upright.
The late pressure came from the away side, with Furness and Sophie Williams both going close. Ramshaw and Mead also went close but the game ended level. Leeds are top of the group, but only on goal difference from Sunderland and both teams now progress to the next stage with still one game remaining in the group stage.
FT� Leeds 2 v 2 Sunderland
Sunderland: Laws, Holmes, Bannon, Wilson, Greenwell, Ramshaw, Gutteridge, Furness, McDougall, Williams, Mead. Subs: Caldwell, Atkinson, Devine, Salicki, Sutcliffe.
Report - Dominic Hewitson