SUNDERLAND Women edged through to the fifth round of the FA Cup after a penalty shoot-out win at Derby County.
The Northern Division home side put on a disciplined display to keep National Division leaders Sunderland at bay throughout the 90 minutes and extra-time.
Sunderland will now play host to Super League side Lincoln in the fifth round this Sunday.
The visitors started brightly and enjoyed much of the early possession with striker Sophie Williams twice going close.
Then, following good work by Abby Holmes and Vicki Greenwell, Demi Stokes was unlucky to see her shot go narrowly wide.
Derby were content to defend in numbers and rely on the occasional break as Gemma Wilson and Kelly McDougall went close again.
A fine run by Holmes resulted in an Ellie Christon effort skimming the post before Stokes went even closer as her shot cannoned off the woodwork.
The second half continued as the first had signed off with Sunderland In control but unable to press home their advantage.
Christon and Holmes were unlucky to see their efforts go wide before a Williams cross was headed against the bar by Holmes.
Following a succession of Sunderland corners, the home side broke away with Hannah Ward bringing a great save from Rachael Laws.
Moments later, Laws again produced a fine stop from Ward as Derby reminded the visitors that they were still in the game.
The lesson was not learnt as the home side almost snatched the lead as Holmes cleared off the line.
The Wearsiders regained their composure and controlled the remainder of the 90 mins without really testing Simpson in the Derby goal.
Sunderland again enjoyed the bulk of possession in extra-time but could not apply the finishing touch as Steph Bannon, Keira Ramshaw and McDougall all went close.
Charlotte Potts saw her effort go just wide but Derby finished strongly to take the game into a penalty shoot-out.
The occasion got the better of the home side as the Lady Black Cats went through 4-2 on penalties, with skipper Steph Bannon scoring the winning spot-kick.
Sunderland: Laws, Holmes, Bannon, Wilson, Greenwell (Salicki), Christon (Atkinson), Vaughan (Potts) McDougall, Stokes, Ramshaw, Williams. Sub (not used): Young.