SUNDERLAND began their defence of the League Cup with a comfotable victory in the heat at Eppleton CW yesterday.
The Lady Black Cats took an early lead when Vicki Greenwell’s free-kick was brought down by Rachel Furness on her chest before she fired past Claire Wallhead and into the net.
Sheffield didn’t have time to catch their breath before Sunderland pounced again. Sophie Wiliams found Beth Mead with a diagonal pass and the striker fired home from six yards.
It was soon 3-0 when a quick break caught out the visitors and Mead was there again to apply the finish.
Sunderland were rampant with Kelly McDougall firing just wide from a free-kick and Mead firing straight at the keeper, but Sheffield eventually started to get a foot-hold on the game.
This led to their first chance, with Jodie Michalska ending a good move with a deflected shot that went just wide of keeper Helen Alderson’s left hand post.
Sheffield began to grow in confidence and pressured Sunderland into a rare mistake, with Gemma Wilson heading the ball straight back to opposition. Sheffield broke with pace down the right resulting in a dangerous cross which was cleared by Steph Bannon.
The ball was picked up by captain Leanne de Silva who looped a header back toward the danger area, and under pressure from Michalska, Bannon turned the ball into her own net.
Sunderland started the second half the better with an effort from Bannonjust clipping the bar.
Keira Ramshaw and Natalie Gutteridge both had good chances soon after, but the visitors almost pulled back to 3-2 when Michalska broke through, only to be felled by the on-rushing Alderson.
Cries from the Sheffield bench called for a red car, but the Sunderland keeper escaped with a yellow.
Sunderland started to get more and more complacent as the game progressed, and the home fans began to get on their back.
But before Sheffield had a chance to take advantage, Furness and Williams combined to set up Gutteridge, who fired the ball into the corner of the net.
Brilliant saves from the superb Wallhead prevented Williams and Furness from adding to their lead, and late on Ramshaw cracked the upright from outside the area.
Michalska was always a threat for the south Yorkshire club but it was too little, too late for the hard working visitors, as the game ended 4-1.
Sunderland: Alderson, Christon , Wilson (Salicki 90), Bannon, Greenwell, Williams, McDougal, Furness, Ramshaw, Gutteridge, Mead (Atkinson 78).