Lady Black Cats on Reds alert for big clash with champions

Steph Bannon

Steph Bannon

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SUNDERLAND Ladies continue their push for league title glory when they host Liverpool at Eppleton CW tomorrow (6.30pm).

Back in late March, the newly-promoted Lady Black Cats kicked off their first season in WSL1 with a tough assignment on Merseyside - against the champions of the previous two seasons.

A header from Beth Mead and a penalty converted by Brooke Chaplen gave Sunderland a 2-1 victory.

Since then, the fortunes of the clubs have gone in different directions.

Sunderland are join top with just five games to go, while Liverpool are third bottom.

The Black Cats are in excellent form, on the back of six successive wins including the 4-0 hammering of previously unbeaten Chelsea, who last weekend won the FA Cup, with a 1-0 win against Notts County.

There was also a boost for Sunderland on Wednesday when County - potential title rivals – suffered a shock home defeat to bottom side Bristol Academy, who sealed their first league win of the season.

Liverpool, meanwhile, are struggling with injuries with England’s Fara Williams, and Asisat Oshoala and Satara Murray all ruled out.

Sunderland will be taking nothing for granted, though, and will look to repeat their recent excellent displays against Liverpool tomorrow.

A win could move them clear at the top by the end of the weekend, with joint leaders Arsenal facing another championship-chaser in Manchester City on Sunday.

Skipper Steph Bannon said: “If at the start of the season you had offered us this position with five games to go, we would have snapped your hand off!

“Our target at the start was to ensure we stayed in the top division and to have done that is fantastic.

“Who knows where we might end up? But we’ll just keep taking it one game at a time.”

Sunderland have been fired to the top thanks to 10 goals in nine league games from striker Beth Mead.

“Beth’s a great player,” said Bannon. “It’s good to have her in our side because you know if you give her chances she is likely to put it away.

“If you’ve got a prolific goalscorer in your team, you’re always going to do well.”

Bannon is hoping for a good turn-out of fans as they target another win.

“The crowds have been great, with England doing well in the World Cup another boost for the game. The more people we get through the door, the more they become a 12th player for us.”

Admission is just £5, with Under 21s and over 65s getting in for £2.50. SAFC season card holders pay just £3 and special family tickets are priced at £6 for an adult and child and £10 for two adults and two children.