Cup holders bow out.
A depleted Sunderland WFC side crashed out of the Premier League Cup semi-finals at the hands of Leeds United at Eppleton CW on Sunday.
Goals from Tanya Rich, Danielle Sheen, Abigail Lee and Emma Lipman earned the visitors a 4-1 victory after Jordan Atkinson had pulled one back for Mick Mulhern’s side.
The defeat is the ladies' second consecutive loss, having previously gone unbeaten in the 2012-13 season, and the defeat also means Mulhern’s side failed to defend the Premier League Cup after winning the trophy last season.
Sunderland were without key players - Rachel Furness and Beth Mead were injured and on international duty respectively - and Mulhern’s side suffered from their lack of experience against a well-organised Leeds outfit.
The visitors took the lead after 20 minutes when Rachel Lee played through Rich who made no mistake with a neat finish.
It took just five minutes for Leeds to double their advantage with arguably the goal of the game, Sheen finishing a fine Leeds move by crashing a 25-yard volley beyond Laws and into the net.
As so often this season, though, the Lady Black Cats were instant in their response; Leeds failed to clear and Atkinson bundled home from close range.
Sunderland continued to press for an equaliser and went closest after good interplay between Keira Ramshaw and Abbey Joice led to an opening for Sophie Williams but she saw her low drive hacked clear by the Leeds defence.
Leeds put the tie to bed in the 88th minute; Abigail Lee had the simple task of slotting into an empty net after a scuffed pass found its way through to her at the back post.
And as Sunderland tried in vain to grab a late goal, Leeds added a fourth, Lipman outjumping the defence to give the visitors a memorable victory.
Ladies boss Mulhern was disappointed with his side’s defending and he has urged his girls to learn from their mistakes.
“Silly errors that led to the first three Leeds goals – they all were avoidable,” Mulhern said.
“The score wasn’t a true reflection on the game at all and the last goal was just down to us chasing the game in the final minutes.
“Although we dominated possession, our decision making on the ball and movement off the ball was poor and we weren't really a threat in the second half.
"Leeds had something to hang onto and sadly we didn’t do enough to win the game - hopefully my players can learn a big lesson from the pain they'll be feeling tonight.”
Sunderland: Laws, Beer, Bannon, Wilson, Greenwell, Atkinson (McDougall), Salicki, Joice (Sutcliffe), McFadden, Ramshaw, Williams (Hall).