Classy Cats too slick for City

GREAT FINISH: Beth Mead puts Sunderland ahead with a superb diving header at Hetton yesterday.
GREAT FINISH: Beth Mead puts Sunderland ahead with a superb diving header at Hetton yesterday.
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TWO goals from top scorer Beth Mead – including a rare header – helped Sunderland move smoothly into the quarter-finals of the Women’s FA Cup.

It was an accomplished performance from the Lady Black Cats, with Sophie Williams also scoring with a superb shot and skipper Steph Bannon completing the scoring with a header.

City gave as good as they got in the opening stages before Sunderland took a grip on the game with good possession.

City keeper Andrea Worrall had to be alert to collect a ball over the top from Keira Ramshaw, and then the visitors’ defence just managed to clear a cross from Williams as Mead closed in.

Young midfielder Abbey Joice was then denied by the post after a fine shot from 20 yards.

City did still pose a threat and when a dangerous ball was played into the Sunderland box, it struck Vicki Greenwell and deflected just past the post.

The resulting corner was punched clear by Rachael Laws as far as former Sunderland striker Sarah Danby, but her effort was fired over the bar.

Sunderland were finally rewarded for their dominance in the 39th minute as Williams crossed from the left and Mead made a brave, diving header that turned the ball past a helpless Worrall.

More good work from Ramshaw and Joice then send Mead through again, but her effort just cleared the bar.

Sunderland doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time. Rachel Furness played the ball out wide to Williams, who cut in from the left and unleashed a spectacular strike into the top corner when everyone was expecting a cross.

The home side started the second half where they left off in the first, looking to kill off the tie.

Another Williams effort looked destined for the top corner but Worrall tipped it over the bar.

It was the prolific Mead who extended the lead in the 51st minute.

Furness delivered a great ball to the far post, Ramshaw played the ball back across the area and Mead was there to fire home from close range.

Moments later, the fourth goal arrived following a long free-kick by Greenwell which found Bannon unmarked in the area to nod the ball home for her second goal in two games.

Sunderland continued to work the ball well and Worrall again denied efforts from Ramshaw and Mead.

City, to their credit, continued to fight hard, with Sarah Buffell hitting the bar when she should have scored from close in.

The visitors were also twice denied by full-back Megan Beer on the goal-line as they looked for a consolation goal.

The only downside for Sunderland was a knee injury to influential midfielder Furness, who had to be helped off the pitch after a collision.

Manager Mick Mulhern will be hoping that she is fit enough to play in this Sunday’s Premier League Cup semi-final against Leeds United at Hetton.

The Cats boss was delighted with the team display. “It’s great to be in the quarter-finals again,” he said.

“We were well organised out of possession and a constant threat in possession.

“Everything I asked for was delivered. The girls were magnificent.”

The draw for the quarter-finals is made today.

Sunderland: Laws, Beer, Bannon, Wilson, Greenwell, McFadden (McDougall), Furness (Sutcliffe), Joice, Ramshaw, Williams (Atkinson), Mead. Subs not used: Alderson, Salicki, Caldwell.