SUNDERLAND Women were punished for mistakes as they crashed out of the League Cup in the semi-finals yesterday.
The Lady Black Cats won the cup last season by beating Leeds in the final – but the Yorkshire side got their revenge in style at Eppleton CW.
The visitors were well organised and always in Sunderland’s faces. The hosts, though, were well below par and looked like their terrible run of injuries had finally caught with them – and worse was to follow with an injury to forward Sophie Williams.
The loss of top scorer Beth Mead to an international call-up was particularly badly timed, leaving Sunderland significantly less of a threat in front of goal.
Leeds took the lead on 20 minutes when Sunderland conceded possession meekly in midfield. Former Sunderland player Rachel Lee played it through for Tanya Rich to hit a great strike from a narrow angle which went in at the near post.
Sunderland hardly had time to gather their thoughts before Leeds grabbed another.
A quick break down the right was played inside for Danielle Sheen, who was given too much time to hit a superb half volley from 25 yards which flew past keeper Rachael Laws.
Sunderland were having lots of possession but struggling to find their rhythm as Sophie Williams saw an effort drop just over the bar.
They did find the net after 32 minutes, though, following a right wing corner. Leeds struggled to clear and Jordan Atkinson reacted quickly to turn the ball home from close in.
In the second half, Keira Ramshaw and Abbey Joice linked well to set up Williams but her low drive was hacked clear.
A defensive slip allowed Leeds to break but Sheen had her effort turned away by Laws.
A through ball from Sarah McFadden saw Leeds keeper Draycott collect well under pressure from Williams, who went down following the collision. She was stretchered off and taken straight to hospital.
McFadden and Joice went close and just as it seemed an equaliser was coming, a mistake from Ruth Sutcliffe fell perfectly for the unmarked Abigail Lee, who had the simple task of
slotting into an empty net with just two minutes remaining.
Leeds added salt to the wounds with a fourth goal in injury time when Emma Lipman headed home from a corner.
Sunderland boss Mick Mulhern sid: “Silly errors led to the first three Leeds goals as all were avoidable – they must have thought Christmas had come early.
“The score wasn’t a true reflection on the game and the last goal was just down to us chasing the game in the final minutes.
“Although we dominated possession our decision-making on the ball and movement off the ball was poor and we weren’t really a threat in the second half.
“Leeds had something to hang onto and sadly we didn’t do enough to win the game. Hopefully my players can learn a big lesson from the pain they’ll be feeling.”
Sunderland: Laws, Beer, Bannon, Wilson, Greenwell, Atkinson (McDougall), Salicki, Joice (Sutcliffe), McFadden, Ramshaw, Williams (Hall). Subs (not used): Alderson, Holmes.