SUNDERLAND Women manager Mick Mulhern is delighted to have been given home advantage in coming cup clashes.
The Lady Black Cats will entertain Manchester City in the fifth round of the FA Women’s Cup on Sunday, March 17, and then old rivals Leeds United in the semi-finals of the Premier League Cup a week later.
Both promise to be tough games at Eppleton CW, though.
Last month, City led Sunderland 1-0 at the Hetton ground with just ten minutes remaining when an injury to the visiting keeper forced the game to be abandoned. The Wearsiders edged a 3-2 win in the away fixture earlier in the season.
Leeds will also provide another major test. The teams met in the final last season, with Sunderland emerging as worthy 2-1 winners.
This season, the teams have met twice, both draws at Leeds. The last came in the league two Sundays ago, when a last-gasp goal from Beth Mead preserved Sunderland’s unbeaten record this season.
“As always, getting the home draw is something everyone wants,” said Mulhern.
“It gives us that home advantage and the surface at Hetton gives is a good chance to play the football we like to play.
“They are two hard games, though, and we will have to be ready for a battle.
“Manchester City are the best footballing side we have faced this season, while last week Leeds bullied us in the first half in a way I had not seen since last season when Birmingham beat us in the FA Cup.
“But we turned that around in the second half and a point was the least we deserved from the game, even though the equaliser did come very late.”
The FA Cup draw saw the eight Super League teams enter the competition.
Holders Birmingham City – who knocked Sunderland out last season – are away to Cardiff City.
Steph Houghton’s Arsenal are away to Nottingham Forest, while Jill Scott’s Everton will visit Oxford United.
There are two all Super League ties – Doncaster Rovers Belles v Bristol Academy and Lincoln Ladies v Chelsea.
The final, which will be held at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium on Sunday, May 26, will be screened live on BBC2.
FA Women’s Cup fifth round draw: Sunderland v Manchester City, Aston Villa v Liverpool, Doncaster Rovers Belles v Bristol Academy, Cardiff City v Birmingham City, Nottingham Forest v Arsenal, Oxford United v Everton, Lincoln Ladies v Chelsea, Leeds United v Yeovil Town.
In the League Cup, the other semi-final is a long way from being sorted – with Blackburn Rovers or Aston Villa taking on Portsmouth, Manchester City or Barnet.