Sunderland Ladies determined to show Sheffield steel in cup crunch

Sunderland Ladies skipper Lucy Staniforth. Picture by Frank Reid
Sunderland Ladies skipper Lucy Staniforth. Picture by Frank Reid

Sunderland Ladies could seal their place in the quarter-finals of the FA WSL Continental Tyres Cup when they travel to Sheffield tonight (7.30pm).

The Black Cats have taken five points from a possible six so far and victory will be enough to clinch a top two spot alongside Liverpool, who beat Aston Villa last night.

Both sides will be looking to bounce back from poor league results in their last teague outing.

Sunderland lost 3-0 to Arsenal to leave themselves sixth place in FA WSL1, while Sheffield lost 1-0 away to Brighton in WSL2.

Captain Lucy Staniforth says the Red and Whites must tighten up their defence after the disappointing defeat to the Gunners at Boreham Wood.

She said: “We are just going to have to be defensively stronger.

“We know that Sheffield have had a couple of decent results, so obviously we need to keep switched on, but we will hope to continue our good cup form and score some goals as well.

“I imagine we will be doing some work to tidy up a few bits from the game against Arsenal, such as switching on in the second phase, especially when then ball lands in our area, and making sure we get our players to be the first to get contact on the ball.

“Hopefully, we will put on a bit of a better attacking performance.”

Sheffield keeper Danielle Gibbons said her side would be confident of sealing success on their home turf despite their loss to high-flying Brighton.

They have had a mixed start to their cup campaign, losing to Liverpool, beating Durham and then picking up a point in a penalty shoot-out defeat to Aston Villa.

Sunderland have a win over Villa and a penalty shoot-out win over Durham under their belt so far.

Gibbons said: “I definitely think that if we play to our strengths then we’ve got a good chance of winning.

“They’re coming to us, we know our home pitch we’ve played well there this season, so we’re confident we can turn this game around and get a win.”

England face Bosnia & Herzegovina in a FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifier at Walsall on November 24, KO 7.05pm. Buy tickets (£10 Adult/£1 Under-18) at www.thefa.com/tickets