Today was the draw of the Third Round Proper of the Adobe Women’s FA Cup, and the day when Sunderland Women would finally become part of the competition.
Given their status as a Women’s Championship team (Tier 2) this will be the Lasses’ first competitive match in this tournament, and following on from a live Instagram draw at 3pm this afternoon. Sunderland found out that their opposition will be against Durham Cestria - Durham Women’s Reserve Team which competes two divisions lower in Tier 4 of the Women’s Football League Pyramid.
Cestria Girls were founded in 2007. Following some success as a junior grassroots team, they successfully merged with South Durham, who had won the County Cup on a few times, to become South Durham Cestria LFC in 2012. From there, they entered the senior football league. The eventually went on to become Durham Women who compete in the same division as Sunderland Women, with Durham Cestria becoming their reserve/development side.
Despite Durham Cestria being two divisions below Sunderland, this will be no easy contest. Just at the weekend Durham Cestria travelled to Liverpool to face third vision side Liverpool Feds and beat them 1-0 to secure their place in the third round. No simple feat, given that Liverpool Feds are a well established side in the FA WPL Premier Division and are trying to keep up with top sides Newcastle United, Burnley, Nottingham Forest and Wolves Women in the fight for a promotion spot.
Durham Cestria currently sit 6th in the FA WPL Northern Division, having played nine, won four, lost four and drawn one. However, the talent at their disposal cannot be underestimated with many players coming through the side to go on to the senior team and further afield.
It will be an interesting game for Mel Reay and her Sunderland team. Focus will predominately be on the Championship and trying to maintain their joint first place position in the league. Sunderland still has Conti Cup fixtures to contend with. However, unlike the group format of that competition, the FA Cup, like the men’s is a straight knockout tournament, giving the fixture and the possibility of a positive FA Cup run a real sense of hope.
As stated previously though, this will not be an easy game and something that the gaffer and her coaching staff are always mindful of and continue to show humility. It is an unfamiliar but wonderful feeling to have Sunderland seen as the top dogs lately as opposed to underdogs. Still, this team never forgets where they have come from and will undoubtedly treat this fixture with as much seriousness and respect as they would for any other opponent.
That said, it still presents an opportunity to some our younger players and those with limited minutes a chance to shine in the cup.
Now just comes the wait for more confirmation details to be released in terms of the date, time, location and ticket info for this fixture.
Haway the lasses!