Brave Sunderland Ladies eventually fell to all conquering Arsenal in the 4th round of the Womens FA Cup at Borehamwood on Sunday.
They pushed them all the way however and took the champions to extra time before Kim Little, who scored the winner in last seasons Final against the Wearsiders, scored a hat trick to secure a 4-1 victory and a 5th round tie against Leeds or Watford.
The game began at a frantic pace and Arsenal pushed strongly for an early breakthrough and Rachael Laws was twice called into action to deny Yankey and Davison. A Steph Bannon free kick was headed wide by Natalie Gutteridge before Demi Stokes powerful forward run was halted by Chapman. Sunderland were growing in confidence and were causing Arsenal problems as the game swayed from end to end. Sarah Danby and Jordan Nobbs combined well to create a chance while Little was denied by Laws.
Moments later Landers went clear but the danger was smothered by Laws before Flaherty headed wide when well placed. Arsenal poured forward but the visitors defence, Holmes, Bannon, Wilson and Devine, held firm. Kelly McDougal set up Lucy Staniforth to whip in a dangerous cross which was scrambled behind for a corner.
HT... Arsenal Ladies 0 vs 0 Sunderland WFC
The home side continued to push forward and a Yankey shot struck the crossbar before the same player pulled her shot wide when under pressure from Lucy Bronze. Arsenal finally broke the deadlock after 66 mins following a scramble in the Sunderland box and when Helen Landers effort came back off the bar Katie Chapman was on hand to head home. The Wearsiders would not lie down however and Nobbs run was only halted by desperate Arsenal defending before good link play between McDougall and Stokes was scrambled behind for a corner. Sunderland late pressure paid off as with only seconds remaining Nobbs struck her shot goal ward and it was deflected into goal via Ciara Grant to take the tie into extra time.
FT... Arsenal Ladies 1 vs 1 Sunderland WFC
Arsenal got the early breakthrough in added time with a quickfire double around the 100 minute mark from Kim Little. The home side were now visibly more relaxed as Sunderland tried to get back into the game and gaps were beginning to appear at the back. Laws again saved from Chapman as Arsenal broke quickly. The second period of extra time saw the home content to let Sunderland push on and rely on their pace to break from the back. McDougals shot was cleared and from the break Bannon and Laws combined to deny Arsenal a fourth goal but the game was finally settled 6 mins from the end following Sunderland pressure as Arsenal broke quickly once more and with the visitors committing players forward Little was left in the clear to round the stranded Laws and fire home her third and Arsenals fourth.
AET... Arsenal Ladies 4 vs 1 Sunderland WFC
Sunderland...Laws, Holmes(Bronze), Bannon, Wilson, Devine, Staniforth, Nobbs, McDougall, Stokes, Danby(Salicki), Gutteridge(Halliday) Subs not used... Atkinson, Fraser
Manager Mick Mulhern said after the game...It was an excellent team performance today and we deserved to take Arsenal to extra time. Unfortunately our keeper (Rachael Laws) injured her knee late in the second half and her mobility was restricted during extra time. As a result we were punished by the champions. But Im very proud of my young team. We came out of the game with lot of credit and we made Arsenal work hard to reach the next round.