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Football - 26. March 2011.

Sunderland face Arsenal FA Cup challenge

The FA Cup quarter finals commence on Sunday, with two of the eight teams just two games away from Champions League qualification.

By David Brenchley

 

Sunderland v Arsenal, Hetton Centre (DH5 9NE). Kick off: 1300

A replay of the 2009 FA Cup final, Premier League National Division leaders Sunderland host FA WSL side Arsenal with manager Mick Mulhern admitting this was the draw he feared most.

The Gunners have won the tournament 10 times and were beaten finalists last term so the Black Cats boss knows that his young side will be up against it.

Speaking after the draw was made, Mulhern said: "When I saw the other results after we had beaten Lincoln, I had just one wish - anyone but Arsenal!

"But we have got Arsenal, and we have to get on with it. And I am sure we will give it a real go to try to get the better of the best team in the country."

Striker Demi Stokes will be leaving the club at the end of the season, with a four-year scholarship at the University of South Florida, and is hoping to bring some silverware to the club before she leaves.

"Arsenal are a really good team and beat us in the final two seasons ago, so it would be nice if we could beat them this time," she said.

"Winning the FA Cup with Sunderland would be a dream come true, but there's a long way to go before we can start thinking about that. We will have to be at our best to beat Arsenal, but we have a chance.

 

Millwall v Bristol Academy, Beckenham Town FC (BR3 3JL). Kick off: 1400

Having comfortably dispatched of Sheffield Wednesday in the last 16, WSL side Bristol Academy travel to Kent for a tough match against Millwall Lionesses.

Bristol manager Mark Sampson acknowledged his opponent's ability and form but is confident his side will progress to the semi finals.

"The FA Cup is a special competition so a quarter final tie is a big game," he said. "Millwall have picked up some excellent wins to get this far so we know what to expect.

"But I have a great feeling about our group and believe we are going to get through. There is a great feeling amongst the group and we are looking to take that confidence and togetherness into Sunday's game."

Jade Radburn is cup-tied for Bristol Academy but former Lioness Ann-Marie Heatherson is in line to start against her former club, for whom she has scored twice this season.

 

Barnet v West Ham United, Hanwell Town FC (UB6 8TL). Kick off 1400

Fresh from their FA Women's Premier League Cup victory against Nottingham Forest, Barnet will attempt to progress to their third successive cup semi finals against West Ham.

The Bees were beaten FA Cup semi finalists last season, losing a close game to eventual winners Everton, and beat Portsmouth in this year's League Cup semi.

Despite the Hammers being a division below, Barnet manager Tracey Kevins is predicting a tough match, having played them in the group stages of the League Cup this season and also in the FA Cup last year.

"I guess everybody looks at the draw and goes ‘oh you've drawn West Ham, aren't you pleased?' but they are a difficult draw for us because there is a long running rivalry between the two teams and it will be a proper blood and thunder encounter," she told WSR.

"We have had some great league and cup games against them over the last couple of years. They have always been very tight affairs: it finished 4-3 to us after extra time in the FA Cup last season and we beat them 1-0 this season in the League Cup."

 

Liverpool v Doncaster Rovers Belles, Skelmersdale FC (WN8 8EF). Kick off: 1400

The only all-FA WSL tie of the round sees Liverpool take on Doncaster, with the Belles already having dispatched a Super League side in the competition.

A Vicky Exley free kick was enough to down Chelsea for Donny while Liverpool eased past Southern Division Charlton Athletic 5-0 thanks to a hat trick from Scotland international Ruesha Littlejohn.

Doncaster's Swedish international Maria Karlsson is excited for the game and told Our Game Magazine: "I'm so excited and have this good feeling in my body.

"I hope that it will be a really good game and that both us and Liverpool can promote the start of FA WSL in the best way.

"And the most important, that we can prove to ourselves that we're good enough to play in the next round."

WSR will be at Eden Park Avenue to watch Millwall Lionesses host Bristol Academy. Follow me on Twitter to receive updates from the game and reaction afterwards.

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