Women’s Football: Sophie swoops to clinch quarter-final progress for Sunderland

CUP STAR: Sophie Williams fires home Sunderland's winner against Lincoln.
CUP STAR: Sophie Williams fires home Sunderland's winner against Lincoln.
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SUNDERLAND Women progressed to the FA Cup quarter-finals with a hard-fought 1-0 victory against Super League side Lincoln at Eppleton CW yesterday.

The big-spending Lady Imps enjoyed the bulk of the play in the first half, but a determined second-half showing saw the Wearsiders through thanks to a well-taken Sophie Williams strike in the 71st minute.

Lincoln, who included former Sunderland midfielder Lucy Staniforth, started strongly and passed the ball well as the hosts were pushed onto the back foot.

Carla Cantrell caused problems, but it was Bonnie Horwood who brought a good save from Rachael Laws, forced to tip the ball over in the ninth minute. Then Cantrell broke clear on goal but pulled her shot wide from a good position.

Sunderland broke down the right as Demi Stokes played in Natalie Gutteridge to lay the ball on for Keira Ramshaw, who was denied by a good tackle by Sophie Walton.

Then Kelly McDougall whipped in a dangerous corner which was scrambled clear.

Cantrell broke for Lincoln but shot wide when she should have scored.

At the other end, Williams won the ball and carried it forward before releasing McDougall to beat the advancing Hobbs but the ball rolled agonisingly wide of the post.

Sunderland rode their luck in the closing stages of the half as a Cantrell free-kick struck the bar before the same player intercepted a back pass to shoot across Laws, but the ball came back off the post.

In the second half, Vicki Greenwell hit a defence-splitting pass to send Ramshaw through, but the youngster was denied by a great Walton tackle.

England international Sue Smith went close from a Lincoln free-kick before Rachael Furness won the ball in the middle and carried it forward, only to shoot straight at the keeper.

Moments later, a Williams effort went narrowly wide before the deadlock was broken.

As Gemma Wilson stood firm to stop Cantrell, the ball was played to Furness, who carried it forward to release Williams on the left. She tangled with Leandra Little but broke clear to move into the box and drive a shot across Hobbs’ goal and into the far corner of the net.

Furness brought a great save from Hobbs as her goalbound lob was clawed away from under the bar by the Lincoln stopper.

A mazy run by Demi Stokes ended with her shot going just wide, then Abby Holmes broke strongly but her effort was scrambled away.

A McDougall free-kick was headed just over by Furness as the home side finished strongly with further efforts by McDougall and Stokes.

SUNDERLAND: Laws, Holmes, Bannon, Wilson, Greenwell, Stokes, Vaughan, McDougall, Williams, Gutteridge (Furness), Ramshaw. Subs (not used): Salicki, Christon, McFadden, Halliday.

H It was not a good day for the new Super League, with four of the eight teams crashing out. Birmingham succumbed to Barnet, Chelsea going out to Doncaster and holders Everton losing 2-0 to favourites Arsenal.