CARLTON Fairweather is happy with the progress made by Sunderland Ladies, but admits there is still work to do ahead of the Women’s Super League programe, writes Roy Kelly.
Sunderland have performed well in pre-season, winning two and drawing two, with their solitary loss being the last-gasp 2-1 FA Cup defeat at Aston Villa.
Fairweather has been pleased with his two new signings, Tori Williams and Suzanne Mulvey, who add experience to what is, essentially, a young squad.
On the minus side, the head coach has not yet been able to call on last season’s player of the year Rachel Furness because of injury, while in-form Beth Mead missed Sunday’s goalless draw at Hibernian because she was flying out to La Manga for an England U23 camp.
Abbey Joice sat out the friendly as she recover from a knee problem while experienced midfielder Kelly McDougall did not travel because of a chest complaint.
Given the absence of those players, a 0-0 draw at a vibrant Hibs is not something to unduly worry about.
But while Fairweather saw “positives”, he and assistant Mel Reay know there are things to work on as the club builds towards the WSL1 visit to champions Liverpool on Wednesday, March 25.
Sunderland created little in the first half at Albyn Park and gave away possession too cheaply.
The second 45 minutes was a significant improvement with better ball retention and spells of good pressure, but without really stretching keeper Jenna Fife.
“There were positives,” said Fairweather. “We kept a clean sheet against a hard-working side.
“Playing a Scottish team up in Scotland is not easy and they gave us a bit of a test.
“We improved in the second half, we kept the ball better and moved it from side to side quite well.
“But we lacked a cutting edge in front of goal.
“We must work hard on a few issues from a technical and tactical point of view around the box.
“We need to work on movement and our understanding of our movement in and around the opposition area.
“While we had a lot of ball, I don’t think their keeper was ever in much danger.
“She did make some saves, but they were all pretty comfortable.
“We need to be more clinical with our play.”
Sunderland are hoping to arrange a friendly for Sunday, possibly against WSL2 opposition.