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Women's Football News
Sunderland captain Steph Bannon was full of praise for her side following their 5-0 victory over Barnet in the Fifth Round of the F.A.Women's Cup.
The Wearsiders are through to the quarter finals for the first time and Steph told Women's Soccer Scene: "I was a fantastic performance, if I am to be honest. On the day we played well - it was the first game this season where I think we performed for the whole 90 minutes of the match, normally it is for 45 or 70 minutes. It was one of the best performances I have been involved in.
"We expected Barnet to be tough but we stuck to our tasks and performed really well to produce an outstanding team display. In the first half we had a lot of chances but couldn't take them and we thought at half time that the next goal would be crucial. We just played well and took our chances in the second half, we were more relaxed in front of goal."
Sunderland must wait and see who their opponents in the last eight will be, as they have been paired with the winners of the postponed Fifth Round tie between Bristol Academy and Birmingham City. "Whoever we get, it is going to be a massive test for us," admits Steph. "Whichever team we play, we will have to be at our best if we are going to be able to beat them. It will be an indication of how far we have come this season.
"It does help that we are at home - we believe we can give anyone a good game on our ground as we are solid there. There will be no pressure on us as we shall go into the game as underdogs.
"However Lincoln and Millwall have already proved this season that it is possible for a team at our level, it shows what can be done and we believe we can do it. It will be a massive game for us - if we win, we would be only one game away from Pride Park. We will work hard in training and prepare the best we can, we'll give our best and you never know what will happen."
Regardless of who they will play, Sunderland will approach the match with the highest of confidence. "This is probably one of the best squads I have played in here," says Steph, "but it is a very young squad. The talent, passion and enthusiasm of the youngsters who have come through is second to none and the team spirit is very high."
However Steph insists that there is no chance of Sunderland taking their eye off what they see as the main prize. "The league is still our top priority as we are aiming to win it," she says. "The cup run is benefitting our performances in the league though, it is boosting our confidence a lot as we are beating good sides such as Cardiff and Barnet.
"Our two strikers are doing really well this season, Natalie Gutteridge and Sophie Williams who are two very different players but both are fantastic - I think they are the best two forwards in the Northern Division. Our goalkeeper Helen Alderson is also playing well and keeps us in a lot of games by making important saves.
"I think that Lincoln and Newcastle are probably our main contenders for the title now - Manchester City are also there or thereabouts. It's not easy, but it is in our hands right now but we still have to play Lincoln and Newcastle again before the end of the season. If we do what we have to do, we are going to be in a very good position."
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