Sunderland Ladies 3 Aston Villa 2: Lady Black Cats win in Women's FA Cup
Sunderland Ladies launched the new season and new era by beating Aston Villa to reach the sixth round of the FA Cup.
Goals by Tori Williams, Hayley Sharp and Lucy Staniforth gave new head coach Melanie Reay a winning start against a stubborn Villans, who replied through Tash Baptiste and Lucy Shepherd.
It was the first match for the Lady Black Cats after the club's decision to revert to a part-time model and it proved a good start at Eppleton CW.
Sunderland were the first to show with Roche seeing her low shot cannon off Chloe Beattie's left upright with the keeper beaten.
But the Lady Black Cats didn't have long to wait to go ahead.
Beattie could only beat out Lucy Staniforth's free-kick and WILLIAMS was the first to react to power the loose ball home from close range.
The hosts stayed on top and Roche saw a shot deflected for a corner.
But, out of the blue, Villa were level in the 18th minute.
Beth Merrick put over a delicious cross from the left which BAPTISTE superbly headed past Anke Preuss.
Sunderland regained the lead 10 minutes befoe the interval when Beverly Leon played a fine cross from the left which SHARP emphatically headed in from the edge of the area.
It could have been 3-1 within 60 seconds when Staniforth put Abby Holmes clear but Beattie made a super save, diving to her left.
Soon after Staniforth flashed a shot wide from the edge of the area and when her left-wing corner was flicked on by Williams, Villa cleared off the line at the far post.
Villa had offered little going forward but in stoppage time, Lucy Shephard broke quickly and sent a left-footer wide.
While SHEPHERD was off-target at the end of the first period there was no mistake in the 49th minute when she was sent clear and beat Preuss with a thumping finish.
Sunderland came straight back with Maddie Hill firing over bar after good work down right from Dan Brown.
Reay's side were rescued in the 62nd minute when Preuss saved from Shepherd as Villa threatened to take the lead.
But Sunderland were back in front just three minutes later from a STANIFORTH penalty.
Elisha N'Dow was guilty of handball from Leon's shot and ref Dean Hulme immediately pointed to the spot.
Staniforth wasted no time in taking the kick, Beattie making no dive.
Sub Bridgett Galloway had a late shot blocked but it made no difference as the hosts held onto their lead, just, with Villa substitute Kerri Welch hitting the bar with a header in the last minute.
ASTON VILLA 2
Sunderland Ladies: Preuss, Bannon, Sharp, Williams, Holmes (Lambert 79), Brown, Hill, Staniforth, Bruinenberg (Watt 79), Roche, Leon (Galloway 66)
Goals: Williams 13, Sharp 35, Staniforth (pen) 65
Booked: Holmes 69
Aston Villa: Beattie, Hassall, N'Dow, Richards, George, Merrick, Moran (Welch 86), Porter, Shepherd, Rouse, Baptiste (Hinchcliffe 65)
Goal: Baptiste 18, Shepherd 49
Referee: Dean Hulme