SUNDERLAND Women boss Mick Mulhern is looking forward to taking on another unbeaten side in the last 16 of the Premier League Cup at Eppleton CW tomorrow.
The Lady Black Cats have nine wins and three draws from their 12 games so far this season, while tomorrow’s opponents Sheffield are leading their league with six wins out of six.
That league – the Premier Northern Division – is a division below Sunderland, but Mulhern is not taking a win for granted as his side looks to retain the cup they won for the first time last season.
“Sheffield are a well organised side who are unbeaten in their league,” he said.
“They’ve signed some good players, some with Super League experience. Several are from the successful Lincoln side of a few years ago – so it will be very tough.
“They beat a very good Blackburn side last weekend.
“It’s basically a cup-tie between two teams who are on form.”
The Sunderland boss will be hoping for a return to scoring form after being goalless – and 1-0 down – at home to Manchester City in the league last Sunday, when the game was abandoned due to a bad injury to City keeper Dani Brown.
That game came after a three-week break from action over the Christmas period, and Mulhern hopes his players will have found their shooting boots again.
“I think it was more a case of missed opportunities against City and being slightly rusty in front of goal,” he said.
“The game stats were massively in our favour with 18 shots to two. The corner count was very high and possession was around 70 per cent to us.
“Their keeper was keeping them in it and I believe we would have scored at least once if the game had been restarted with an outfield player in goal.
“As she (Brown) was receiving initial treatment, I’d changed to four players playing high. If we had re-started, there was seven minutes left plus a minimum of four minutes stoppage time. That’s a quarter of the half still to play – and I’m sure would finally have scored.”
Sunderland will again be without central defender Gemma Wilson in tomorrow’s game (2pm) as she recovers from a sickness bug, while deputy goalkeeper Helen Alderson is also ruled out. The game will be decided on the day with extra-time and penalties if needed.
The Lady Black Cats also found out their FA Cup third round opponents this week, and face a derby trip away to Middlesbrough on Sunday, February 3.
Middlesbrough, fifth in the Northern Combination, and have already played three games in this competition to reach this stage, beating Curzon Ashton, Peterlee St Francis and Huddersfield in previous rounds.
Meanwhile, Sunderland forwards Beth Mead and Keira Ramshaw have been selected for the forthcoming England U-19 training camp.
The camp will take place at St George’s Park in Burton from Sunday, January 20 to Tuesday, January 22 and includes an international friendly against Denmark on the Tuesday evening.