SUNDERLAND Women secured a place in the fourth round of the Women's FA Cup as they beat North-East rivals Middlesbrough 6-1 at Thornaby yesterday.

The Wearsiders are two leagues above Boro, and the gulf in class was apparent for the majority of a game that suffered because of the poor playing surface.

Winger Kiera Ramshaw caught the eye with a well-taken hat-trick, and Sunderland will hope to improve on last season's FA Cup showing, when they lost to Super League Birmingham at the quarter-final stage.

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Middlesbrough will turn their attention back to the Northern Combination League and attempt to maintain the progress they are displaying under head coach Gemma Grainger.

They gave a good account of themselves yesterday, but fell behind when England under-19 international Beth Mead chipped Sunderland into the lead midway through the first half.

Ramshaw doubled the visitors' lead with a clinical low strike, and made it 3-0 with a header from Sophie Williams' cross at the start of the second half.

Natalie Gutteridge scored from close range to extend Sunderland's lead, and while Middlesbrough defender Jenny Dixon pulled a goal back, Ramshaw completed her hat-trick with a low shot from 12 yards.

Becky Salicki scored Sunderland's sixth goal from the penalty spot, and the result would have been even more one-sided had it not been for three superb second-half saves from Middlesbrough goalkeeper Laura Wilson.