Melanie Reay is looking for a “reaction” from Sunderland Ladies when they face another massive WSL1 Spring Series test.
By a quirk of fate, the opposition for Sunderland’s men and women are the same tomorrow.
We have to have a reaction against Chelsea and the girls are looking forward to getting back on the pitchMELANIE REAY
While David Moyes’s team end their Premier League life at new champions Chelsea, Reay’s side host the London club’s ladies at Hetton (kick-off 2pm).
Blues boss Emma Hayes is aiming to emulate Antonio Conte and secure the WSL title and that makes them especially dangerous opponents at the Eppleton CW ground.
Chelsea are unbeaten in the opening three matches, have racked up 12 goals and conceded only two.
Everything would point to an away victory, but Reay says the Lady Black Cats are up for the challenge.
It says much about the Sunderland mentality that they left Liverpool on Wednesday night very upset with themselves.
The 4-0 defeat to the unbeaten leaders was no crime given how good the Reds are, while the score could have been considerable closer but for the efforts of keeper Siobhan Chamberlain, who saved from Beverly Leon, Lucy Staniforth and Dominique Bruinenberg.
“We were disappointed by the result in midweek considering how well we have started the campaign,” said Reay, whose side had gone 280 minutes without conceding a goal
“We have reviewed the game as a squad and know where we need to do better.
“We have to have a reaction against Chelsea and the girls are looking forward to getting back on the pitch to right the wrongs.
“We are creating chances which is good, but at Liverpool we weren’t hard to beat.
“We had been keeping clean sheets but our defensive strength wasn’t as good at Liverpool and we need to correct that.
“We know what they are going to do, it’s making sure we stop them.
“It’s about picking the right team.”
That job will fall to Reay and her right-hand-women, Amber Whiteley and Vicki Greenwell.
The head coach is looking to measure the progress of her players against one of the elite sides.
Reay took Sunderland to Chelsea in the FA Cup quarter-finals last month, when they went down 5-1, having taken the lead through Staniforth.
“It will be a good test of how far we have come as a squad since we played them before the Spring Series,” added the boss, who hopes to see the fans turn out in force.
“It’s always a big game against Chelsea but the more people we have the better.
“The girls respond to the support of the fans and we’d love to see a big crowd at the game.”
Admission is available on the gate.