Sunderland Ladies slipped to a narrow 2-1 defeat at Blackburn Rovers - but were far from disgraced against the runaway league leaders.
Rovers - highly-tipped to earn promotion from the FA Women’s National League this season - were handed an early scare by the Lady Black Cats as skipper Keira Ramshaw fired home an early opener.
But a brace from former Manchester City striker Natasha Flint handed Blackburn victory despite a spirited second half performance from Sunderland - who would have been good value for a point.
Mel Reay was able to call upon two new recruits in Lancashire, with Maria Farrugia and Charlotte Potts handed starts after joining the club last week.
And the pair couldn’t have wished for a better start to life in red and white as their new side took the lead after just six minutes - Ramshaw cutting in from the right before arrowing an effort into the bottom corner from distance.
That sparked Blackburn into life, with Lagan Makin and Flint both sending warning shots narrowly wide.
Flint wouldn’t have to wait long to get on the scoresheet though, as she fired home after a training ground free-kick routine to level things up.
And she would hand Blackburn the lead moments later, picking up a loose ball before converting from close range.
Debutant Farrugia almost brought Sunderland back into the game after the interval, but a deflection took the sting out of her goal-bound effort.
Substitute Mollie Lambert then saw an effort tipped onto the bar as the Black Cats ramped up the pressure in the dying minutes.
But they couldn’t make their late efforts count with the Wearsiders forced to leave the North West empty-handed.
Meanwhile, Durham Women progressed to the last sixteen of the Women’s FA Cup courtesy of a 5-1 win over Cardiff City.
A brace from Zoe Ness added to strikes from Abby Holmes, Beth Hepple and Sarah Robson as the Wildcats cruised to victory.
Kylie Nolan’s first-half strike for the Bluebirds ultimately proved to be in vein, as Durham sealed a date with top tier Bristol City in the last sixteen of the competition.