Goals from Beth Mead (her 26th of the season) and Nicola Devine gave the Lady Black Cats a hard earned 2-1 victory in the midlands and they now face Blackburn Rovers in the semi final on the 22nd of April.
The early stages of the game were evenly contested but it was Sunderland who had the first effort on goal after 13mins as Nicola Devine's free kick was caught under pressure by Megan Walsh in the Villa goal. Soon after good work down the right between Beth Mead and Devine resulted in a cross for Natalie Gutteridge whose effort just cleared the bar. Rachel Lee then went close, heading wide from a corner. Aston villa had their first effort on goal as Sherry McCue went through on goal but fired over the bar. Mead went close before the home side won a corner and despite their height advantage the ball was headed clear by Gutteridge. Sunderland broke quickly down the left as Keira Ramshaw crossed but Devine headed wide. Then just before half time Devine beat her marker and pulled the ball back for Gutteridge but her effort was blocked by the Villa defence.
HT...Aston Villa 0-0 Sunderland
Sunderland came out sharply in an effort to up the tempo and Kelly McDougall played the ball over the top for Mead but her snapshot was well saved by Walsh. A Villa free kick caused problems for the visitors but was eventually cleared by the Sunderland defence. With the Wearsiders doing all the pressing they were caught on the break as the home side took the lead in the 49th minute. Carly Davies was played through on goal and she cleverly chipped the ball over the advancing Rachel Laws. This spurred Sunderland on and they levelled within five minutes. Gutteridge found herself in space in central midfield and slid a ball in between two defenders to set Mead free. The prolific youngster remained composed as she slotted the ball into the bottom corner to level the scores. The Lady Black Cats were in full control now with Rachel Furness and Rachel Lee bossing the middle of the park. Furness went close as she headed wide from a Vicki Greenwell cross before Sunderland took a deserved lead in the 65th minute. As the ball was brought out of defence Greenwell played it into the box and Lee saw her effort deflected into the air, Mead acrobatically crashed the ball against the Villa bar with an overhead kick but Devine was first to react as she fired home the rebound. Aston Villa went in search of an equaliser as Davies ran through on goal but a brilliant tackle by Gemma Wilson preserved the score line. Sunderland were dealt a severe blow as Mead went down heavily following a challenge and was carried from the field. Unfortunately the injury appears to have denied Mead the opportunity of joining up with the England U17 squad this week. She was replaced by Jordan Atkinson who was involved immediately as she was sent clear on goal but the ball was smothered by Walsh. Furness and Atkinson had further efforts beaten away as Sunderland held on for victory and progress to the Semi Finals of the League Cup for the first time.
FT...Aston Villa 1-2 Sunderland
Sunderland: Laws, Christon, McDougall, Wilson (Salicki), Greenwell, Lee, Furness, Gutteridge, Ramshaw, Devine, Mead (Atkinson).
Subs not used: Chidester, Caldwell.
Mick Mulhern was jubilant at the final whistle... 'it was a hard fought victory from a battling performance. We showed a lot of character to come from behind to win the game and I'm obviously delighted'.
Sunderland now face Blackburn Rovers at home on Sunday 22 April in the semi-final with the winner facing either Leeds or Coventry in the final at Northampton FC on Sunday 6 May.