KELLY McDougall is relishing taking on the country’s best team tomorrow – and hoping for a repeat victory!
Sunderland Ladies entertain Super League champions Liverpool at Eppleton CW in the fifth round of the FA Cup (2.07pm).
With a quarter-final place up for grabs, the Lady Black Cats midfielder would love to turn back the clock to 2009 when Sunderland went all the way to the final.
At Derby’s Pride Park, all-conquering Arsenal lifted the cup with a 2-1 win; McDougall’s late goal proving only a consolation for the Wearsiders.
Later in the year, though, Sunderland produced a huge shock by beating the Gunners in the league at Hetton - inflicting only their second defeat in over six years.
The score was again 2-1, but this time in Sunderland’s favour, with McDougall scoring the winner this time.
Things have changed in the women’s game since then, with the ‘summer’ Super League now well established.
And there’s a new team at the top, with Liverpool now about to begin the defence of the title they won last year.
First comes the FA Cup, though, with McDougall again looking to upset the odds.
“No one really fancied us to reach the final back in 2009,” she said.
“But we beat some really good teams on the way. We beat Bristol Academy in the quarter-finals and Chelsea in the semis at the Stadium of Light.
“They were both top division sides and we are a division below. But we played really well and deserved to win.
“Liverpool are an excellent side, one of the best I’ve seen, and I’m sure they will be right up there challenging again this season.
“But we are really looking forward to it.
“It’s 11 v 11 over 90 minutes. We’ve prepared well for the game and we’ll see what happens.
“We loved the run to the cup final in 2009 and of course we’d love to do something similar this time.
“We could have had a kinder draw though! We’ve had two FA WSL2 teams and now the champions of WSL1!”
Scouser McDougall is urging her team-mates to enjoy the challenge and enjoy the game.
The 2.07 kick-off marks the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster when 96 Liverpool fans died at the FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest.
“I was only a little girl when it happened,” said McDougall. “But it obviously meant everything to my home city.
“I will have known people who lost family and friends on that day.
“It will be nice to be able to pay our own tribute tomorrow, especially as it’s Liverpool we welcome to our ground.
“When the game starts, it’s about the football.
“We have to enjoy it and do our best – as always.”