SUNDERLAND Ladies must get their feet back on the ground for the rest of the Women’s Super League 1 season – despite being in dreamland after a famous win at Liverpool.
That was the message today from head coach Carlton Fairweather following the 2-1 success at the Halton Stadium in Widnes.
I’m so pleased for the girls. Pre-season has gone well and the team have carried that into this gameCarlton Fairweather
The Lady Black Cats stunned the reigning WSL 1 champions with a first-half opener from Beth Mead and a clinically-taken 78th-minute penalty from new signing Brooke Chaplen last night.
A late goal from Liverpool defender Tara Murray brought the Reds back in it, but Sunderland, superbly led by centre-half Steph Bannon, held firm to take the three points.
While Fairweather was thrilled with the triumph on Merseyside, he stressed that they cannot get carried away.
“For us to come here against a great Liverpool side who have won the league two years on the spin was a dream night,” said the head coach.
“But it was a dream we always believed could come true.
“We’ve taken our chances and had others too.
“I’m so pleased for the girls. Pre-season has gone well and the team have carried that into this game.
“It will give them a massive lift, but, at the same time, we have to keep everyone’s feet firmly on the ground and be ready for the next game.
“Yes, it was a fantastic night, but that was just the first match, there are still 13 to go.
“It was hard coming into WSL1, we didn’t really know what to expect.
“But now we have a benchmark and we must look to build on this.”
Mead was the Sunderland hero, heading in the opener from Keira Ramshaw’s cross from the right and then winning the penalty which Chaplen fired high into the net.
Fairweather had praise for both scorers, but he also saluted the side’s character and defensive solidity.
“Beth has looked sharp in training and getting a goal in the first game will give her a fantastic lift and hopefully she’ll carry that into her next match,” Fairweather told the Echo.
“Brooke is a great signing for us. She’ll bring the girls on a lot with her energy, decision-making and the way she plays.
“But it was a fantastic team effort.
“Liverpool had some ball, but they did not get that many clear-cut chances and that speaks volumes for our girls and the way we defended.
“All our girls stuck together and when Rachael (Laws) was needed, she produced some good work.”
It was a dream debut, too, for Fairweather in his first WSL1 match in the dug-out, having replaced the successful Mick Mulhern.
But the Londoner was keen to deflect the praise towards assistant Mel Reay and the entire club.
“It’s a team effort from everyone involved,” he added. “Mel is a fantastic help to me as the head coach and to the club.”
Sunderland Ladies have their first home match of the new season against Manchester City at Eppleton CW on Wednesday night (6.30pm kick-off).