Mead fired up for title bid

Beth Mead.
Beth Mead.
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BETH Mead is looking to break through the 30-goal barrier on Sunday – and fire Sunderland Women to the Premier League title.

The Lady Black Cats entertain Cardiff City at Eppleton CW (2pm), knowing victory will seal a third successive championship.

Mead was still playing junior football when Sunderland won the title in the 2010-11, but made a huge impact with 29 goals in her first year in the senior ranks last season.

Now, having just turned 18 this month, the young striker is again on 29 goals for the season with two games remaining.

A week on Sunday, Sunderland host rivals Leeds United, and that could yet be a title decider – if the Black Cats fail to win against Cardiff, who they beat 4-0 in Wales last month.

Last season, Sunderland clinched the title at Cardiff, with Mead scoring the crucial winner.

“It would be amazing to win the title again in front of our home support,” she said. “What a feeling that would be for everyone involved!

“But we are not going to be complacent going into the game.

“We had a great result down there but this is a totally new game. We will have our heads firmly screwed on and hope to get the result.”

Mead will again be the league’s top scorer this season and is thrilled to have made such a major impact in her first two seasons.

“There was more pressure this year, to prove that I wasn’t a one-trick pony,” she admitted.

“Hopefully the goals this season will open a few eyes and people will recognise it. I’ve been working hard on improving my game; learning the tricks of the trade and what defenders don’t like.

“But I couldn’t have done if without the rest of my ‘Sunderland family’.

“It’s been a dream come true. I could not have believed this two years ago – I’m loving it more every day

“I just hope there’s one or two more goals left!”

A 3-0 win at League Cup winners Aston Villa last Sunday gave Sunderland the chance to claim the title with a game to spare.

“It was always going to be a very tough game,” said the England U19 forward. “Villa are a very well-organised side with experience and England players, so it was a huge win for us.

“We’ve had a lot of injury problems this season but the squad has done well. It shows we have depth in the squad and a group of players who can still get the job done.”

The injury problems have forced boss Mick Mulhern to bring in some more young players – and Mead admits she’s no longer the baby of the group.

“I’m a big girl now!” she joked.

“But I know how it feels to be the new girl and I will try to help all them grow and become better players – just like so many others have done to help me.”