Mulhern: Passion play can seal Sunderland Ladies’ title joy

Emma Kelly goes into tomorrow's Sunderland Ladies title decider after a week away with England
Emma Kelly goes into tomorrow's Sunderland Ladies title decider after a week away with England
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SUNDERLAND Ladies manager Mick Mulhern says his side’s passion can carry them to title glory tomorrow.

The Lady Black Cats almost certainly need to win at Millwall tomorrow to seal the Women’s Super League 2 championship – and promotion to the top flight.

Title rivals Doncaster Belles are also in London to face bottom-of-the-table London Bees, who have been shipping goals of late.

Belles trail Sunderland by two points going into the final game of the campaign, but have a superior goal difference. That means a draw will not be enough for Sunderland if Doncaster see off the Bees, as expected.

But Mulhern (pictured, inset) says the focus is all on his own side’s performance, and he says the desire is there in spades to seal the title.

“The girls need no motivation for this,” he said.

“It’s clear what the rewards are and it’s what we have been working towards for the best part of a year.

“I’m sure Doncaster will win their game, so we won’t be checking on Twitter or anything how they are doing.

“It’s all about us.

“The message to our team is that they are top of the table for a reason.

“We will show the desire, hope to start the game in the right way, and then hopefully our quality will come through.”

Sunderland had the chance to seal the title three weeks ago when they hosted Doncaster, but the party was spoiled when the visitors came away with a 2-1 victory at Eppleton CW.

“That game seems a long time ago, now,” said Mulhern. “We’ve been waiting for another chance, and it’s come down to this. We’ve kept things very normal, doing training as well always do, getting our preparation right.

“We’ve had players away with England – Beth Mead and Rachael Laws last week, Abbey Joice and Emma Kelly this week – but other than that, it’s been business as usual.

“Rachel Furness had to come off in our last game at Oxford. We’ve had her wrapped up in cotton wool as she’s an important player for us in midfield – but it’s just a precaution and she’ll be fine for the game.”

Mulhern believes his players will now keep their nerve after coming through a test at Oxford in their last game when they lost a two-goal lead only to finally come through with a 3-2 win.

“We have won the title the last three years and every season there is a spell of pressure on the players. It’s natural,” he added.

“We have come through that. It’s time to show the quality that has taken us to the top and see the job through.

“I expect a really tough game from Millwall. They have already taken points off both Doncaster and (third-top) Reading at home, so we know we are in for a real battle.”

H A commentary of the game will be broadcast on BBC 5Live Sports Extra.