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Sunderland into last four
 Women's Football News 9 Apr 2012
 
Sunderland into last four - 9 Apr 2012 - Women's Football NewsAston Villa 1 Sunderland 2
Sunderland came from a goal behind to beat Aston Villa and reach the semi finals of the Premier League Cup, keeping their hopes of a League and Cup 'double' alive. 
 
The first half was very tightly contested and, with both defences in good form, chances were at a premium at either end of the pitch. The first effort on goal came as Natalie Gutteridge attempted a chest trap and volley from the edge of the area which was just over the bar.
 
Villa hit back and had the first clear opportunity as Carly Davies slid a neat through ball into the path of Sherry McCue. However the ball bobbled badly as the midfielder went to shoot and her effort flew over.
 
The game remained hotly contested in midfield as both sides sought to take control in difficult conditions. Sunderland were finding it difficult to break down Villa's impressive central defensive duo of Dani Petrovic and Jade Richards, going closest when Keira Ramshaw crossed for Nicola Devine to head just wide. At the other end, Davies and Katie Wilkinson worked hard up front but found it equally difficult to get close to Rachel Laws' goal.
 
After the break, the game opened up more and Beth Mead broke into the area where her shot lacked power and went straight at Megan Walsh.
 
Moments later the deadlock was finally broken as Davies closed down the Sunderland defence and the ball ricocheted into her path and deftly lifted the ball over the advancing Laws to give Villa the lead.
 
The goal seemed to spring Sunderland into life and they were level just three minutes later. Gutteridge intercepted a loose pass in midfield before guiding a through ball into the path of Mead. The young striker did appear to be offside but no flag was raised and Mead raced clear on goal and, although Walsh got a hand to her left foot shot, the ball found the corner of the net and Mead was able to celebrate her 26th goal of the season.
 
Villa responded with Richards flashing a good 25-yard effort just over the bar but Sunderland were looking sharp going forward now and went close to going in front when Vicky Greenwell crossed for Rachel Furness to send a powerful header just wide.
 
Another Greenwell cross eventually led to Sunderland going in front. This time her centre was headed away by Katy Moran as far as Rachel Lee whose shot was deflected into the air. Mead attempted an audacious overhead kick which was brilliantly tipped onto the bar by Walsh but Devine followed up to slot home the rebound. Villa again appealed for offside but their protests were in vain.
 
With Furness and Lee looking strong in midfield, Sunderland were starting to show their best form but at the other end the lively Davies broke away and looked set to equalise but was denied by an excellent saving tackle from Gemma Wilson.
 
There was a scare for Sunderland as star striker Mead landed awkwardly following a tackle and was stretchered off after several minutes of treatment. The injury could well rule the prolific youngster out of England's Under-17 squad this week and, having already lost captain Steph Bannon for the rest of the season, adds to the Wearsiders' injury worries.
 
Mead's replacement, Jordan Atkinson, had a golden chance to put her side two goals ahead shortly after coming on as she ran clear on goal but, while attempting to take the ball round Walsh, was foiled by a good smothering save.
 
There was a further injury scare for Sunderland as Wilson was replaced by Becky Salicki but they held firm at the back to keep Villa at bay and book their place in the last four for the first time, where they will host Blackburn Rovers. 
 
Aston Villa: Megan Walsh, Erin Vaughan (sub Natalie Courtney 86mins), Kelly Clarke (sub Louise Fellows 70mins), Katy Moran, Dani Petrovic, Jade Richards, Sherry McCue, Natalie Gibson, Carly Davies, Katie Wilkinson (sub Ini Umotong 73mins), Natasha Merritt.

Sunderland: Rachel Laws, Ellie Christon, Vicky Greenwell, Rachel Lee, Rachel Furness, Gemma Wilson (sub Becky Salicki 83mins), Keira Ramshaw, Kelly McDougall, Beth Mead (sub Jordan Atkinson 78mins), Natalie Gutteridge, Nicola Devine.


 
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