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13 March 2012
We're up for the Cup!
SUNDERLAND Women manager Mick Mulhern is not daunted by his side’s tough FA Cup quarter-final draw.


The Lady Black Cats were yesterday handed another away day – against Super League powerhouses Birmingham City.

It follows long trips to Cardiff and Somerset side Keynsham in previous rounds. But Sunderland came through those tests with flying colours – winning 7-0 and 5-1 respectively – and will now look to pull off a shock win as they eye a place in the semi-finals.

“It’s a very tough draw,” admitted Mulhern. “They were just pipped at the post by Arsenal for the Super League title last year and are obviously second favourites to win the FA Cup.

“But to win the cup you have to beat the best and I’m excited by the challenge – and I know my players will feel the same.

“Obviously after two long trips in previous rounds, I would have preferred a home tie but that’s the way it’s come out.”

Sunderland were not chosen to be part of the new Super League set-up, but won the National Premier League title last season and are top of the table closing in on back-to-back championships.

“I want to play in the Super League and hopefully there is a place for Sunderland when they allow applicants in a couple of years,” added Mulhern, who took Sunderland all the way to the final in 2009, where they lost 2-1 to Arsenal.

“In the meantime, we will do our best to win as many games as possible in all competitions.

“We will go to Birmingham and see what happens. They have a team full of internationals and quality players throughout the squad. But, as I say, I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Birmingham beat Liverpool 3-0 on Sunday to win through to the quarter-finals.

Elsewhere in the draw, holders Arsenal will clash with Everton in the quarter-finals on March 25. That tie will see Wearsiders, and England team-mates, Steph Houghton (Arsenal) and Jill Scott (Everton) in rival camps.

Bristol Academy, beaten finalists last season, take on Blackburn Rovers – the Northern Division outsiders who pulled off a surprise win at Charlton – while Doncaster Rovers Belles take on Chelsea.

Quarter-final draw: Arsenal v Everton, Birmingham City v Sunderland, Bristol Academy v Blackburn Rovers, Doncaster Rovers Belles v Chelsea.

Courtesy of Neil Watson, Sports Editor, Sunderland Echo

"Mick Mulhern: We’re up for the cup!"

Sunderland Manager Mick Mulhern at Sunday's game against Keynsham Town