Ha’way the Lasses – with apologies to Manchester, Stoke & Bolton Lads

Image: Women’s Football North East

Once again Salut! Sunderland has reason to salute the Sunderland Women’s Football team, victors in the FA Cup match that actually mattered …

The FA Cup semi-finals will be played between Manchester United and Manchester City, and Stoke City and Bolton Wanderers.

It has not escaped the attention of everyone that M Salut’s four semi-finalists, as nominated in a preview that appeared here on Saturday morning, were Arsenal, Reading, West Ham United and Birmingham City.

Mr Peter Sixsmith of this parish has already noted that these were quite brilliant predictions, leaving Ladbrokes and William Hill’s quaking in their boots (he also had a sly dig – “I switched the TV on for the England v Scotland Rugby Union game and I had been watching 20 minutes before I realised I was watching the Stoke City FA Cup tie” – but we wouldn’t wish to reopen old wounds.

So instead, let us congratulate both Manchesters, Bolton and – yes – Stoke for winning through to the semis, to be played at Wembley on April 16 and 17.

Danny Higginbotham scored Stoke’s winner and there were starting places for Tommy Sorensen, Rory Delap and Kenwyne Jones, with both Dean Whitehead and Danny Collins getting on as subs, so the result can be welcomed on the basis that it’s good to see Old Boys doing well.

But much heartier congratulations go to Sunderland Women’s Football Club for winning their FA Cup 5th round game against Lincoln City at Hetton.

Sophie Williams, photographed above, scored the winner and our friend Sobs has already summed up the match for us in these terms: “Took a while to settle into game, and thanked the woodwork, but had control for the last 20.”

At the SWFC’s own site the achievement was described as a “hard fought victory against big spending ‘Super League’ Lincoln’, reminding us of the outrageous decision to exclude Sunderland from that new league. As if furhter cup success is not proof enough of Sunderland’s right to be in the Super League, it is worth adding that they are also top of the Premier.

Back to Sunday’s match.

Here are a couple of extracts from the SWFC report:

The Lady Imps enjoyed the bulk of the play in the first half but a determined second half showing saw the Wearsiders through thanks to a well taken Sophie Williams strike.

… the deadlock was broken in the 71st minute. As Gemma Wilson stood firm to stop Cantrell the ball was played to Furness who carried it forward to release Williams on the left. She tangled with Little but broke clear to move into the box and drive a shot across Hobbs’ goal and into the far corner of the net.

… Furness brought a great save from Hobbs as her goal bound lob was clawed from under the bar by the Lincoln stopper. A mazy run by Stokes ended with her shot going just wide of the upright then Abby Holmes broke strongly but her effort was scrambled away. A McDougall free kick was headed just over by Furness as the home side finished strongly with further efforts by McDougall and Stokes.

Salut! Sunderland is delighted to record the win here (and if anyone spots a mention on the official club site, let me know as I looked in vain). The full team was

Laws, Holmes, Bannon, Wilson, Greenwell, Stokes, Vaughan, McDougall, Williams, Gutteridge(Furness), Ramshaw. Subs (not used)…Salicki, Christon, McFadden, Halliday.

And just a final word on our abysmally wrong preview of the weekend action. As well as wishing the Lasses well, we did have the decency to follow our reasoned support for Arsenal, Reading, Birmingham and West Ham with this:

… given M Salut’s track record as a forecaster, stand by for victories for Manchester United, Bolton, Stoke and Man City.

Monsieur Salut

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