Sunderland Ladies produced a scintillating first half performance to blow away fellow WSL2 opponents Watford in the FA Cup 4th round on Sunday.
The game was played in sunny but blustery conditions at the Hetton Centre (Eppleton CW) and the home side were far more clinical as they stormed to a 4-0 interval advantage. Gemma Wilson gave the ladies the lead with Abbey Joice and a couple from Beth Mead putting the Lady Black Cats firmly in the driving seat. Watford tightened up after the break and pulled a goal back but the result was never in doubt.
The game began at an even pace with both sides pressing forward as defences stood firm. The first real chance fell to Sunderland as Rebekah Bass crossed to the far post for Keira Ramshaw to strike just wide. The Wearsiders stepped up their game and ripped Watford apart in a devastating nine minute spell. Sunderland gained a left wing corner and as Kelly McDougall swung it in Gemma Wilson powered in at the far post to head firmly past the helpless Shayla Burgess in the Watford goal to give the home side the lead in the 20th minute. Moments later Vicky Greenwell floated in a corner from the right which caused panic in the visiting defence before being hacked clear. Fine play involving Megan Beer, McDougall and Bass led to Abbey Joice forcing a good save from Burgess. A Watford free kick was comfortably held by Helen Alderson in what proved to be a brief respite as Sunderland extended their lead in the 27th minute. As McDougall broke quickly from a deep position she cleverly switched play and released Beth Mead to smash home from the edge of the box. Before Watford had recovered they fell further behind less than two minutes later. Rachel Furness, a real powerhouse in the middle, linked well with McDougall to release Joice who jinked her way past two defenders to drive a low shot beyond Burgess into the bottom corner. Furness made a strong run through the middle to create a shooting chance but her effort went narrowly wide. The game seemed safe for Sunderland as they grabbed a fourth goal in the 43rd minute. Great work between Furness, Ramshaw and Bass saw the ball played into the danger area and the ever alert Mead pounced to score from close in.
Half-time: .SAFC Ladies 4 vs 0 Watford Ladies
As the second half got under way a searching free kick from skipper Steph Bannon was well held by Burgess. The visitors broke quickly as Megan Wynne played in Sarah Wiltshire who tested Alderson with a smart effort. Moments later it was Wiltshire again who sent in a stinging shot which Alderson did well to fist clear under pressure from Magda Mosengo. Watford were not to be denied however as their pressure paid off and they reduced the arrears after 54 minutes. Bonnie Horwood and Emma Becket linked to set up Wiltshire who saw her effort beaten away but it fell kindly to Kate Natkiel who struck it through a crowded area and it took a deflection to wrong foot Alderson and creep in at the far post. Then Furness brought the ball forward and played Bass through to cross for Mead who turned on the edge of the box but her shot came back off the post with the keeper beaten. Watford’s Beckett flashed an effort just off target from a well delivered free kick before Furness charged down a clearance at the other end and carried it beyond two defenders to hit a great strike which Burgess did well to turn away for a corner. A quick Watford break almost caught the home side out as the ball reached Wiltshire who poked it narrowly wide. Furness, Ramshaw and McDougall went close for Sunderland before Mosengo powered her way through before being halted by a great tackle from Wilson as she closed in on goal. Another Watford break saw Bannon halt the dangerous Wiltshire as she shaped to shoot. Beckett and Wiltshire saw further efforts beaten away before Mosengo missed Watford’s best chance following a free kick which found her unmarked at the far post but she headed wide. Furness and McDougall closed the midfield down in the final stages as Sunderland comfortably saw out time.
Full-time: SAFC Ladies 4 vs 1 Watford Ladies
Sunderland Line-up: Alderson, Beer(Holmes), Bannon, Wilson, Greenwell, Bass, Joice, Furness, McDougall, Ramshaw(McHugh), Mead.
Subs: Laws, Hill.
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