GOAL ACE Beth Mead says Sunderland Ladies have been handed the toughest possible FA Cup draw ... and can’t wait to take on Super League champions Liverpool!
The Lady Black Cats won through to the last 16 on Sunday with a 4-1 victory over fellow Super League 2 side Watford, with Mead getting two of the goals.
The top division clubs now enter the competition, with Sunderland handed the task of taking on the Reds at Eppleton CW on Sunday, April 13, as they bid for a quarter-final place.
It was at that stage last season when Liverpool knocked Sunderland out, with a 2-1 win at the Academy of Light.
“Yes, they are the hardest opponents we could get, to be honest,” said Mead.
“They were very impressive in winning the league last season. They brought in a lot of new players and have a very strong player in every position.
“But at least we are at home and it’s up to us to take the game to them.
“We’ll give it everything. To be the best, you have to beat the best.”
The England U19 forward will look forward to the game, which will see England striker Natasha Dowie in the opposition ranks, as well as the likes of former Sunderland defender Lucy Bronze - now an England regular - Fara Williams and Gemma Bonner.
Liverpool, now completely full-time since being taken over by the Anfield club, also have a strong international contingent including Louise Fors (Sweden), Nicole Rolser and Corina Schroder (Germany), as well as Americans Amanda de Costa and Libby Stout.
“Tash is a very strong striker,” said the 18-year-old Mead. “She is someone I look up to as one of the very best in the country.
“It’s a great squad. They beat us last season but we’ve been working very hard on our fitness and we’ll see what we can do. We’ll certainly look forward to the challenge and give it everything we have.
“It’s been an odd start to the season with cup games before the league season has started, but it’s the same for all the Super League clubs.
“We’re playing well now and with a few more weeks preparation, and a few more games under our belt, we will be raring to go for the cup game and the league.
“I can’t wait for the league season to start and be playing every week. We have Durham in our first game, so it’s a great start. Bring it on!”
Sunderland have already hosted Liverpool in pre-season, with the visitors taking a 2-0 win, but that will mean nothing with both sides largely just building their match fitness.
Durham, who beat Sheffield 3-1 in the fourth round on Sunday, will face a team from a division below them in the last 16, but must travel to Portsmouth, who play in the Premier Southern Division.
FA Cup fifth round draw: Man City v Reading, Notts Co v Coventry, Arsenal v Gillingham, Birmingham City v Doncaster Belles, Portsmouth v Durham, Chelsea v Bristol Academy, Cardiff City v Everton, Sunderland v Liverpool.