Sunderland Ladies edged past Reading Women to reach the semi-finals of the SSE Women’s FA Cup at Eppleton CW.
First-half goals from Beth Mead and Tori Williams were enough for Carlton Fairweather’s side to progress through the quarter-final stages and reach the last four.
Brooke Chaplen added a third deep into stoppage time, while at the other end Helen Ward and Nia Jones went close for Reading.
The Lady Black Cats went into the game looking to improve on last weekend’s FAWSL1 draw against Reading, as strong winds and intense rain made conditions particularly challenging.
But as both sides prepared for this cup tie, there was a different feeling in the air as bright sun shone down on the Hetton-le-Hole pitch.
With a semi-final place up for grabs both sides knew the first goal would be key after progressing through their fifth round ties with comfortable 2-0 victories against Yeovil Town and Millwall Lionesses respectively.
After a slow start, the game came to life in the 26th minute when Mead raced through on goal, however the striker fired straight at Mary Earps.
Moments later, Chaplen then went through on goal but after beating Earps the ball rolled a fraction wide and the score-line remained tied.
Sunderland looked sharp and in a real attacking mood, however just as they looked to be building up a head of steam Reading were presented with a glorious opportunity to test Rachel Laws.
Steph Bannon conceded a free-kick on the edge of the box but Lois Roche saw her set-piece blocked by the chest of Lucy Staniforth.
The Lady Black Cats regained control of the tie from there though and went ahead in the 35th minute when Krystle Johnston delivered an exquisite driven ball across the face of goal for Mead to tap home.
It was nothing more than the Lasses deserved and shortly after they doubled their advantage when Williams latched onto a fine set-piece.
Abbey Joice whipped in a superb cross from the left-hand side and Williams judged the delivery well and fired home at the near post.
Sunderland went into half-time with a commanding and well deserved two goal lead, but that was almost reduced at the start of the second period.
After being hampered by injuries in the first half, the midway interval came as a welcome break opportunity for the visitors to regroup and come out recharged for the second 45.
And they did just that as Jones was presented with a glorious chance in the 47th minute, however after taking up a great position at the back post she was unable to make contact with the ball as it flashed across the face of goal.
But while Reading searched for a route back into the match, Mead proved to be a constant threat all afternoon at the other end for Sunderland.
After getting the better of Reading’s defence the 20-year-old fired goalwards from an acute angle but was denied by the fingertips of Earps.
At the other end Rachel Furness was her ever combative self as she put her body on the line to deny Roche a goal-scoring opportunity as she raced through.
Laws was then called into action as the visitors continued to press, Ward got the better of Abby Holmes but was then denied by the gloves of Sunderland’s stopper.
Chaplen sealed the victory deep into stoppage time as she broke through Reading’s defence and fired home to book the Lasses' place in the last four.
Sunderland Ladies: Laws, Holmes, Bannon, Williams, Sjoman, Johnston (Roche, 75), Chaplen, Staniforth (McDougall, 81), Furness, Joice (Ramshaw, 69), Mead.
Unused subs: Olsen, Potts.