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Women's Football News
Sarah Danby paid tribute to her Sunderland team mates following their second half comeback when beating Preston North End 4-3 to reach the quarter finals of the Premier League Cup.
The 16-year-old striker scored a hat-trick in her side's victory and she told Women's Soccer Scene: "It was a good game for the neutrals to watch.
"Being 2-0 down wasn't so good but it had been quite equal and we had a lot of possession. In the second half the whole team played a lot better and it seemed to spur us on when we were two goals down."
Sarah pointed to a second half penalty save from goalkeeper Helen Alderson as the turning point in the match. "We were 2-0 down at the time," she says, "and Helen made a vital save but she has been doing that for us at important times all season."
Sarah remained modest about her second half hat-trick - her first for the club - but she now has 10 goals already to her name this season in her first full season for the club after joining from Newfield, where she has played for the last two years. "It's a lot more difficult that what I am used to, but the challenge is a lot better and I'm enjoying it," she admits.
Sunderland suffered the heartbreak of relegation at the end of last season but the club is taking a positive view of things for this season. "Last season we were getting beaten a lot and confidence was low," says Sarah. "Now we have a lot of new players with a lot of potential and things have gone alright so far. We've slipped up a few teams but we have a very young squad and are doing well overall."
As well as the win against Preston on Sunday, Sunderland have also beaten Nottingham Forest in the League Cup but for Sarah, the two victories over local rivals Newcastle Utd have been the highlight of the season so far. "The rivalry is immense up here, just like it is in men's football," she admits. "At the end of the game last week, when we beat them 2-1, it was as if we had won the league."
Sunderland do not yet know who there opponents will be in the quarter finals as they will play the winners of the delayed match between West Ham Utd and Everton. "Either way, it's going to be difficult," says Sarah. "But there is no pressure on us and it would be good to see how were progressing, if we were to play Everton.
"We are still thinking of promotion this season but it is not as easy as it sounds as it is always a tight league. Nottingham Forest are the best side we have played so far, they are very strong but we matched twice, beating them 1-0 in the Cup and only losing 3-2 in the league after being two goals ahead.
"Our captain Steph Bannon has been a rock at the back for us this season and my strike partner Natalie Gutteridge and I are totally different players but a good foil for each other."
Sarah's explosive start to the season is sure to have brought attention to international scouts and her ambitions to extend to playing for her country. "This season, I just want to score goals for Sunderland," she says, "but in the long term I want to play for England. There are a lot of good players around in the North East and with three ex-Sunderland players (Jill Scott, Steph Houghton and Carly Telford) making the World Cup squad, it shows that it is possible for players from this area to get there if you work for it."
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