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F.A.Women's Cup - Road to the Final
Keynsham Town continued their best ever FA Women's Cup run as a goal apiece from Kayleigh Sage, Naomi Clipston, Leanne Lapham, Polly Wardle and Ashley Reinecke gave them a 5-2 victory over Sheffield FC. Barrie Newton's side are now the lowest ranked team left in the competition, league position wise, and they have been rewarded with a Fifth Round home tie against Sunderland.
Sunderland were formed in 2002 when East Durham Houghall Kestrels and Sunderland Ladies combined to come under the umbrella of Sunderland Women FC. Prior to this, their roots lay in Tyneside with Blyth Spartans Kestrels. Since the merger, Sunderland have consistently performed to a very high standard and have played four seasons in the Northern Division and five in the National Division.
In 2002-03 and 2003-04, Sunderland finished as runners-up in the Northern Division, only just missing promotion to the top flight on both occasions. However the following season saw them carry off the title by six clear points and for the first time in their history, they reached the quarter finals of the FA Women's Cup, only losing to a strong Charlton Athletic team in the last few minutes of the game.
Their stay in the National Division lasted two seasons before relegation and the loss of some of their international players but after a disappointing start, Sunderland finished third in the Northern Division the following year.
The 2008-09 season was one of the most successful for the club, gaining them an increased local and national profile. They reached the FA Women's Cup Final after knocking out the likes of Bristol Academy and Chelsea, who they beat in the semi finals at the Stadium of Light. In the Final at Pride Park, they gave a great account of themselves in only losing 2-1 to Arsenal. They also won the Northern Division title and manager Mick Mulhern received the Manager of the Year award for his achievements.
They had a good first season back into the top flight, finishing fifth including a memorable victory over Arsenal during the campaign. However there was some disappointment along the way as their application for the newly formed Super League was turned down.
Nevertheless last season was Sunderland's best to date as they won the Premier League title by a margin of seven points as well as reaching the quarter finals of both the Premier League Cup and F.A.Women's Cup, where they only lost to Arsenal in extra time. This season they are currently locked in a battle with Leeds United as they bid to retain their title and are also still in both major cup competitions.
Sunderland currently have two Northern Ireland internationals - Rachel Furness and Sarah McFadden - in their squad, one player in the England Under-23 squad, two with the Under-19s and one in the Under-17 squad. Alongside Everton, Leeds and Birmingham, Sunderland have supplied more players into the England international set up than any other clubs in the whole league structure.
The club also boasts one of the best managers in women's football in Mick Mulhern, who is now currently the longest serving manager in the Premier League with eleven years in charge. Mick is assisted by Ed Cook and George Gibson is goalkeeping coach.
The team is captained by Steph Bannon and includes England international Kelly McDougall in midfield. Rachael Laws is a promising young goalkeeper and other key players include the likes of Natalie Gutteridge, Gemma Wilson, Vicky Greenwell and Sophie Williams. 16-year-old striker Beth Mead is an exciting young talent who has netted 21 times so far this season.
The match takes place at Crown Field and Sunderland will start the game as firm favourites, along Keynsham's recent four-match winning run should make this a closer game than anticipated at first.
Keynsham Town (from): Amber Thornell, Agnieszka Ziolek, Tracey Rouemaine, Louise Hutton, Becky Tweed, Ashley Reinecke, Naomi Clipston, Audrey Moore, Katarzyna Rusek, Kelly Aldridge, Kayleigh Sage, Polly Wardle, Brianna Oeser, Leanne Lapham.
Sunderland (from): Rachael Laws, Jordan Atkinson, Vicky Greenwell, Steph Bannon, Gemma Wilson, Nicola Devine, Rachel Furness, Kelly McDougall, Beth Mead, Natalie Gutteridge, Keira Ramshaw, Becky Salicki, Robin Chidchester, Sarah McFadden, Sophie Williams, Rachel Lee.
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