Sunderland Ladies visited pastures new on Sunday when they travelled to the West Midlands to meet Sporting Club Albion in the FA Cup. It was the first time the two clubs had met and the Premier League Champions were made to work hard to secure their place in the fifth round. First half goals from top scorer Beth Mead and Sophie Williams gave the Wearsiders a comfortable lead before Robyn James pulled one back for Albion with the last kick of the game.
Sunderland made a solid start as they passed the ball around with ease probing for an early opening. A clever ball over the top by Vicki Greenwell found Sophie Williams who saw her effort well stopped by home keeper Rebecca Thomas. Albion countered and gained a right wing corner which was headed wide. The visitors took the lead after 4 minutes when Rachel Furness intercepted the ball in midfield and she drove at defence before feeding the ball into the path of Beth Mead who calmly slotted ball into the bottom corner. Sunderland came close again after 15minutes as Furness delivered a through to Mead and only a great tackle by an Albion defender prevented the striker scoring her second. From the resulting corner Keira Ramshaw and Ruth Sutcliffe tried to get efforts on goal before the ball was eventually cleared. A rare Albion attack brought a home corner at the other end which was easily dealt with by skipper Steph Bannon and Ellie Christon completed the clearance.
Good link up play between Greenwell and Kelly McDougall resulted in Furness swinging the ball over for Williams who volleyed onto crossbar before the ball was scrambled out for a corner. The Lady Black Cats were not to be denied however as they increased their advantage from the resulting flag kick in the 20th minute as Williams’ right wing corner eluded everyone and crept in at the far post.
Sunderland were in complete control as they passed the ball around comfortably with efforts from McDougall, Furness and Mead going close. A quick counter attack from Albion saw a shot blocked by Becky Salicki and turned behind for a corner. As the ball came over keeper Helen Alderson confidently punched the ball away. Another corner followed and this time Alderson claimed the ball as it swung dangerously in. McDougall and Furness linked well to feed Williams who's cross dropped narrowly wide of the far post. Another Albion break brought a great tackle by McDougall as Sunderland kept it tight at back.
HT...Sporting Club Albion 0 vs 2 Sunderland Ladies
Sunderland again started the half brightly as Greenwell headed down line to Williams who's cross fell to McDougall on edge of box and she fired narrowly over. Another Williams cross almost fell to Ramshaw but good last ditch tackle put ball out for corner. As the ball came in it was only partially cleared to Furness on edge of box and her powerful shot was well saved by Thomas. Furness played the ball beyond the home defence and Williams cleverly beat her marker but her shot fell wide of post. Ramshaw just failed to connect with a McDougall cross before a long range effort by Mead brought a fine save from Thomas. Sunderland were happy to play “keep ball” and play the searching ball through as Albion stuck to their guns and defended in numbers preventing further clear cut chances for the visitors. As the referee looked at his watch the home side gained a corner and claimed a goal with what was virtually the last kick of the game. As the ball came over it bobbled around before falling kindly to Robyn James to stab the ball home from close in.
FT...Sporting Club Albion 1 vs 2 Sunderland Ladies
Sunderland...Alderson, Christon(Wilson), Bannon, Salicki, Greenwell, Sutcliffe, McDougall, Furness, Williams, Ramshaw, Mead(Atkinson).
The draw for the fifth round of the FA Cup takes place today (Mon) at 1pm and will see the introduction of the eight Women's Super League Teams and the location of the Final.