SAFC Ladies 3 Aston Villa 2
SAFC Ladies progress into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup
Sunderland Ladies 3-2 Aston Villa Ladies
Melanie Reay's first game in charge of Sunderland Ladies ended in successful progression in the SSE Women's FA Cup against Aston Villa.
Reay, whose appointment was confirmed in midweek, saw her side pegged back twice by a resilient Villa outfit before eventually running out winners at the Hetton Centre.
Victoria Williams and Hayley Sharp both netted only for Villa to equalise each time; however, Lucy Staniforth's penalty just after the hour booked Sunderland's place in the next round.
Back in action following the conclusion of the WSL 1 season, the Lady Black Cats started quickly and penned the visitors back before taking the lead just before the quarter-hour.
Staniforth's free-kick caused havoc in the penalty area and was spilled by the keeper, allowing Williams an easy tap-in from close range.
However, Villa hadn't read the script and soon had their equaliser; Natasha Baptiste heading a deep free-kick beyond debutant keeper Anke Preuss.
With the scores level, the game opened up with Sunderland getting some quality deliveries into the box, while at the other end Preuss was off her line quickly to deny Baptiste a second goal.
The hosts went back in front 10 minutes before the break – Bev Leon supplying a great cross for Sharp to nod in.
And the lead could have been extended before the break as Abby Holmes was denied one-on-one while Staniforth blasted a fierce shot narrowly wide.
Another debutant – Dominique Bruinenberg – nearly made it a dream bow on the stroke of half time but just couldn't pull her effort back on target from the edge of the box.
Sunderland looked good at the break, but Villa found themselves level just four minutes into the second period. Lucy Shepherd profited from an excellent through ball and slotted beyond Preuss one-on-one.
Nonetheless, the hosts stuck to their guns and were rewarded with what proved to be the winner on 66 minutes.
Staniforth – excellent on the day – kept her cool to score from the penalty spot after a handball in the Villa box.
This time there was to be no comeback for the away side, who nonetheless provided a major scare by rattling the crossbar in the final minute, with Preuss taking a knock in the process.
But the Lady Black Cats saw the job through to take their place in the next round.
Sunderland Ladies: Preuss, Holmes (Lambert, 78), Brown, Bannon (c), Sharp, Williams, Staniforth, Hill, Bruinenberg (Watt, 78), Roche, Leon (Galloway, 56).
Subs not used: Ramshaw, Donnelly.
Aston Villa Ladies: Beattie, George, N'Dow, Richards, Hassall, Porter, Moran (c), Merrick, Baptiste (Hinchcliffe, 64), Shepherd, Rouse.
Subs not used: Welsh, Smith, Potts, Dale.