The FA Women's Premier League Cup
Black Cats at the Double
A Natalie Gutteridge brace against Leeds hands Sunderland a League and Cup Double.
Leeds United 1-2 Sunderland
The FA Women’s Premier League Cup
2.30pm, Sunday 6 May 2012
Sixfields Stadium, Northampton Town FC
Two Natalie Gutteridge headers helped Sunderland to a League and Cup Double as her brace gave the Black Cats a 2-1 win over Leeds in The Final of The FA Women’s Premier League Cup.
After retaining the National Division title with victory over Cardiff last Sunday, Mick Mulhern’s side came into this game full of confidence against their closest title rivals.
The two sides had played out a 1-1 draw in the group stage of this competition in March, but a Gutteridge goal in each half gave the Black Cats their first-ever Premier League Cup success and an historic double.
Sunderland captain Kelly McDougall saw a first-half penalty saved by Leeds ‘keeper Jules Draycott, but that penalty miss would prove only a side note to the Wearsiders’ big day out.
Sunderland started the game the brighter of the two sides and they got off to the best possible start when Gutteridge put them ahead with their first meaningful effort on goal.
McDougall whipped a ball in from the left which Beth Mead knocked back across goal and Gutteridge was waiting unmarked to head home from eight yards out.
Sophie Williams then had a decent chance to double the lead when she robbed Faye Birkby of possession on the left hand corner of the box, but her low shot was straight at Draycott.
The Black Cats continued to control proceedings and searched for further goals through McDougall, Williams and Gutteridge, but they were handed a glorious opportunity to extend their advantage when Mead was felled by Leah Galton inside the box on the half-hour mark.
McDougall took the spot-kick but Draycott got down well to her left to turn the ball behind.
Although Sunderland were on top, pacy winger Galton looked a threat for Leeds every time she received the ball, and she was only inches away from equalising with half-time looming. The 17-year-old cut in from the left flank and unleashed a 20-yard drive which just dipped over Rachael Laws’ bar.
Leeds came out with a bit more purpose after the break and Tanya Rich stung Laws’ fingertips with an angled drive in the opening moments of the half.
More good wing play from Galton then allowed her to deliver a deep cross to Rich and, much in the same way that Sunderland’s goal came about, the ball was laid back across the box, but skipper Clare Sykes couldn’t quite get on the end of it.
Sunderland were still enjoying plenty of the ball, though, with Mead and Williams looking particularly dangerous down the wings. And it was a surging run and cross from Williams which created Sunderland’s, and Gutteridge’s, second goal of the afternoon.
Williams raided down the left and picked out her team-mate with a pinpoint ball which Gutteridge placed into the bottom corner with a cushioned header from just outside the six-yard box.
Although they toiled for the remainder of the game, Leeds were unable to mount a full comeback, and having to commit players forward in search of goals, they were at risk of being caught out on the counter-attack, particularly with the introduction of England U19 international Keira Ramshaw, on for Mead.
Chances were at a premium for the remainder of the game, though Leeds did manage a consolation goal when Carey Huegett stroked home a penalty deep into added time, after Rachel Furness was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box.
There were only seconds left, however, and Sunderland held on the clinch the Double.
1 Jules Draycott, 3 Stacey Emmonds (16 Emma Johnson 51), 4 Hayley Sharp, 5 Faye Birkby (7 Emma Lipman, 51), 8 Clare Sykes (C), 9 Carey Huegett, 10 Tanya Rich (14 Sarah Danby, 68), 11 Leah Galton, 15 Vanessa Holmes, 17 Amy Turner , 20 Jess Holbrook
Substitutes not used 2 Emma Coates, 12 Rebekah Bass
Manager Chris Welburn
1 Rachael Laws, 2 Abby Holmes (14 Becki Salicki, 47), 3 Vicki Greenwell, 4 Rachel Furness, 6 Gemma Wilson, 8 Kelly McDougall (C), 9 Beth Mead (7 Keira Ramshaw, 72), 10 Natalie Gutteridge, 11 Sophie Williams, 17 Nicola Devine, 21 Rachel Lee
Substitutes not used 15 Sarah McFadden, 25 Robin Chidester, 19 Jordan Atkinson
Manager Mick Mulhern
Referee Paul Forrester