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Sunderland start defence with win
 Women's Football News 3 Sep 2012
Sunderland start defence with win - 3 Sep 2012 - Women's Football NewsSunderland kicked off their defence of the Premier League Cup by running out 4-1 winners over Sheffield FC. 
The opening stages of the tournament are once again being played in group format and the Wearsiders' start could have hardly have been more emphatic as Rachel Furness scored early on and Beth Mead netted twice to put them three ahead in the opening ten minutes. A Steph Bannon own goal reduced the arrears for Sheffield just before half time but any Sunderland nerves were eased midway through the second half when Natalie Gutteridge scored the fourth goal.
The two beaten finalists in the last two years met in the other Group Six match and it was Leeds Utd who won 2-1 against Nottingham Forest. Aileen Whelan gave Forest the lead after twenty minutes but Jess Holbrook levelled the scores in first half injury time. Midway through the second half, Danielle Sheen netted her first goal for the club since joining from Blackburn Rovers to earn Leeds a winning start.
Reading FC Women are the early leaders of Group One after a first half brace of goals from Fran Kirby gave them a 2-1 success at Portsmouth (see match report). The other match saw the points shared as Yeovil Town and Cardiff City cancelled each other out in a goalless draw. Yeovil had the better of the opportunities with Grace Rapp having a goal disallowed for offside but Cardiff spurned a late chance when Kelly Aldridge fired over the bar from close range.
Charlton Athletic opened up Group Two with a 4-1 victory away to Kent rivals Gillingham. Gemma Shepherd kept up her good start to the season by netting two first half goals, either side of a Gills equaliser from Anelle Massey. Ellie Stenning extended the Addicks' lead soon after the restart and Kit Graham wrapped up the points with the fourth goal.
Lewes meanwhile marked their first ever match in the competition with an impressive 2-1 win over Southern Division leaders Millwall Lionesses. Naomi Cole put Lewes in front with Abigail Igbavboia levelling just before half time, but a second half strike from Andreia Veiga settled matters in the Sussex side's favour.
Aston Villa made a strong start in Group Three by running out 4-0 victors away to Derby County. Katie Wilkinson and Carly Davies ensured that Villa led by two goals at half time and Wilkinson went on to round off a good day for herself by netting twice after the break to complete her hat-trick, the third coming from the penalty spot.
The other group match saw a tightly contested Midlands derby between Sporting Club Albion and Coventry City and it was the Sky Blues who took the honours on the day, thanks to a solitary first half strike from Cheryl Edwards.
Blackburn Rovers have begun the new campaign well and their fine form continued with a 6-0 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers which sees them top Group Four. Rovers led at the break thanks to a goal by Hannah Forster before Steph Marsh and Nichol Forster saw them three up by the hour mark. Katie Anderton then bagged a hat-trick to double her side's tally in the last twenty minutes.
Manchester City meanwhile picked up the points when beating Preston North End 2-0. Danielle Young put City in front on the twenty minute mark and substitute Lindsay Savage sewed up the win by netting the second midway through the second half.
In Group Five, Barnet bounced back from a disappointing result at Sunderland seven days earlier to defeat Colchester Utd 6-0. The Bees netted four first half goals, Vicky Boardman netting twice along with Jenny Kikomeko and Cheryl Williams, before Kikomeko and Williams each completed their doubles after the break.
The other group match was played on Monday night and saw West Ham Utd and Tottenham Hotspur battle out a 1-1 draw. After a goalless first half, Bianca Baptiste sent Spurs ahead on the hour but the Hammers hit back to earn a share of the spoils when Stacey Little headed in a Jess Barling free kick.

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