SUNDERLAND powered their way to the quarter-finals of the FA Premier League Cup with a superb attacking display against a bewildered Sheffield side at Eppleton CW yesterday.
After an even start, the game exploded into life in a frantic six-minute spell.
Beth Mead opened the scoring when she latched on to cross-field pass to cut inside and drive a fierce shot into the top corner after 12 minutes.
Four minutes later, Sheffield were level as Lisa Giampalma picked up a brilliant through ball and lobbed the advancing Rachael Laws.
Two minutes later, Mead was upended on the edge of the box and from the resulting free-kick Kelly McDougall found the top right hand corner to restore Sunderland’s lead.
It was almost three moments later as Rachel Furness beat several defenders in a mazy run before seeing her shot rebound back off the bar.
Then, a great tackle by Lawson halted Mead as she prepared to shoot from a great position in front of goal.
At the other end, Jodie Michalska tried her luck from 20 yards out but it was well held by Laws.
Sunderland extended their lead after 34 minutes. Natalie Gutteridge held the ball up well and played it through for Mead, who cheekily chipped it over Claire Wallhead in the Sheffield goal.
Robin Chidester, on for the injured Keira Ramshaw, Gutteridge and Mead all had efforts beaten away as the home side finished the half well in control.
There was an early scare as the second half began as Michalska latched on to a loose back pass but the danger was quickly smothered.
As Sunderland broke upfield a poor clearance fell short to Mead and from 20 yards out she rifled the ball home to complete her hat-trick after 48 minutes.
McDougall tried her luck from distance but Wallhead took the ball well before a dangerous Sheffield free-kick was firmly headed out by Steph Bannon.
Becky Salicki saw a header go narrowly wide from a corner and shortly after that Mead set up Abbey Joice to hit a low shot which Wallhead did well to save.
Sunderland grabbed their fifth goal in the 56th minute. The ball was played forward and as McDougall closed in, the stretching Ellie Gilliatt could only lift the ball over her own keeper and into the net for an own goal.
The sixth goal arrived in the 68th minute when Chidester crossed from the right and Gutteridge headed down for Rachel Furness to hammer a low drive into the bottom corner.
Substitute Sophie Williams then beat her marker on the left before playing it over for Chidester to hit an effort into the side netting.
Chidester and McDougall then linked up well to set Williams free and she drew the keeper out before slotting into the bottom corner for Sunderland’s final goal of the afternoon after 77 minutes.
Moments later, Williams crossed for Gutteridge to try an acrobatic effort which came back off the post and into the grateful keeper’s arms.
To their credit, Sheffield never gave up and their efforts were rewarded in the 89th minute when a free-kick from Kayleigh Mitchell went through the home wall and into the bottom corner.
Sunderland: Laws, Christon, Bannon, Salicki, Greenwell, Ramshaw (Chidester), McDougall, Furness, Joice (McFadden), Guttteridge, Mead (Williams). Subs (not used): Atkinson, Suttcliffe.
H The club is taking a supporters bus to Leeds next Sunday for the important league clash between the title challengers. Contact Dave Gardner on 07990 762039.