Sunderland side much depleted by injury and illness pushed illustrious Super League Liverpool all the way but crashed out of the Women�s FA Cup at the Academy of Light on Sunday. The Wearsiders were on the wrong end of a 2-1 scoreline and but for some bad luck and strange refereeing decisions the game could well have had a different outcome. Billson had given the visitors a first half lead before Beth Mead equalised early in the second half and as the home side pushed for a winner their hearts were broken as Icelandic international Omarsdottir scored a controversial winner 4 minutes from time.
Liverpool started strongly as they patiently worked the ball through the middle. England international Fara Williams was proving the driving force for the visitors as she pushed and probed at every opportunity. Natasha Dowie was off target with a snapshot following good work from Nicole roister. Liverpool made the breakthrough their early play deserved in the 7th minute as Louise Fors and Fara Williams worked the ball into space for Lillie Billson to hit a great strike from 20 yards out which beat the despairing dive of Rachael Laws and nestled in the bottom corner. Beth Mead played a good ball through for Sophie Williams to hit a firm strike which Liverpool keeper Sarah Quantrill did well to hold. Dowie was causing problems with her strong running and Gemma Wilson had to be at her best to prevent the England striker going through on goal. Dowie again broke clear bit Laws did well to smother the danger. At the other end Abbey Joice brought the ball through the middle before releasing Mead but Fara Williams closed down the danger. Becky Easton worked the ball for Billson to hit an effort which was turned around the post by Laws. Sarah McFadden played a great ball forward for Sophie Williams to hit a strong shot which was beaten away for a corner. As the ball came over Joice hit a firm effort which was hacked out and Keira Ramshaw�s follow up shot just cleared the bar. Dowie tried her luck again following good work by Fara Williams but Laws was equal to it as she got down well to save. Sunderland were close being on level terms on the stroke of half time when Sophie Williams� in swinging corner caused problems in the Liverpool defence and as it was flicked on the ball was headed off the line before being cleared.
HT...Sunderland WFC 0 vs 1 Liverpool LFC
Sunderland began the second half in determined mood and pushed forward positively as efforts from Ramshaw and Mead were beaten away. Skipper Steph Bannon took a free kick from the left which caused panic in the visiting defence as it travelled through before Quantrill pushed it onto the post and behind for a corner. There was great work by Megan Beer to break up a visiting attack before she brought the ball out to Joice who played in McFadden to switch the ball out for Keira Ramshaw to strike a great effort which Quantrill could not hold and as the ball bobbled towards goal Mead was on hand to bundle home the equaliser after 57 minutes. The Lady Black Cats were pushing forward with confidence now as Ramshaw, Joice and Mead had efforts beaten away. Liverpool gave a sharp reminder of their qualities though as the ball was played into the home box and Billson flicked it narrowly wide and a strong drive by Dowie was well saved by Laws. McFadden won the ball well in the middle before setting Joice away through the middle. The ball was played on to Mead who curled a delightful effort which crashed against the post before being cleared. It was end to end now as both sides looked for a winner. Dowie was again causing problems as she ghosted in at the back post but her strike was turned around the post by Laws. As the ball came back in Becky Salicki was there to make a great block from Roister before Vicki Greenwell completed the clearance. Liverpool gained a corner and as it came in Fara Williams thought she had scored but Beer brilliantly cleared off the line. Then Sophie Williams went close at the other end when her shot was fumbled by the keeper who recovered well. Just when extra time loomed Wearside hearts were broken in the 86th minute. The ball was played into the danger area and it appeared to strike the hand of Dowie and it fell kindly for substitute Katrin Omarsdottir to poke the ball into the bottom corner. Sunderland were out of the FA Cup but certainly not disgraced as everyone gave their all in an impressive performance against their semi professional opponents.
FT...Sunderland WFC 1 vs 2 Liverpool LFC
Sunderland...Laws, Beer, Bannon, Wilson, Greenwell, Joice, McFadden, Salicki, Williams, Ramshaw, Mead.
Subs (not used)...Alderson, Atkinson, Holmes, Kelly, Sutcliffe
Manager Mick Mulhern spoke after the game....�We initially struggled with the quality and movement of the Liverpool midfield players but I sorted it out as the first half progressed and tightened things further at half time. The most important thing for me was to be braver in the second half and I thought the girls were fantastic. They were a credit to themselves and the club. I have to say I was disappointed with the referee�s decision for their winning goal. It was a blatant hand ball and it cost us the game. We simply didn't deserve to lose today.�
Sunderland are back in action on Sunday (7 April), when they entertain Leeds United in the Semi-finals of the Premier League Cup. The game will take place at the Hetton Centre (Eppleton CW) with a 2pm kick-off.
Please come and support the Ladies in this very important game.