Sunderland boss gunning for win against Arsenal

Sunderland Ladies v Aston Villa Ladies Eppleton CW, Hetton, on Sunday.
Sunderland Ladies v Aston Villa Ladies Eppleton CW, Hetton, on Sunday.
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Head coach Melanie Reay is hoping for a big show of support for Sunderland Ladies’ first home fixture of in the WSL1 Spring Series.

Reay’s side faces an acid test on Sunday at Hetton as they take on one of the country’s best sides, Arsenal (kick-off 2pm).

Beverly Leon

Beverly Leon

The support for the men’s side has been phenomenal during a testing season (and seasons) in the Premier League.

And Reay would love to see the numbers high at the Eppleton CW ground for the visit of the Gunners.

The Lady Black Cats made a good start to the programme by drawing 0-0 last weekend at Birmingham City, who had beaten the Gunners in the FA Cup o n their way to the final.

“We can’t wait to get back to the Hetton Centre and play in front of our fans,” said Reay, who last month took over from Carlton Fairweather as boss.

“It would be lovely to see hundreds there supporting Sunderland Ladies.

“It does help the girls, it gives them a buzz and great motivation when they have a big crowd behind them.

“Arsenal had a negative result against Birmingham, but they are a good side.

“They have not played a WSL match yet so we’re not sure how they’ll set up.

“But the pressure is always on the favourites and with the help of the supporters we’ll be looking for the result.”

Despite being in charge for only a brief period, Reay has already worked wonders with her side, building in a greater resilience to a side that became notorious for shipping goals lasy season.

In fact, the last two games have produced clean sheets for the new keeper, ex-German World U20 Cup gold medallist, Anke Preuss.

“I’m obviously delighted with the good start we’ve made,” said Reay.

“It’s been difficult getting the long-term plan across in a short space of time, but the girls have been focused and worked really hard.

“Something needed to improve in terms of goals conceded. That’s why we finished where we did.

“All the teams I’ve coached I’ve looked to make defensively strong. You can’t leak two or three goals a game and expect to win.

“So the more clean sheets you keep the more 1-0s we can get and better.

“These early games are about how we defend and we’ll build on our attacking play.”

Reay has a near clean bill of health for the squad with keeper Hilde Olsen the only absentee.

The head coach is likely to send out an unchanged XI with Abbey Joice partnering Beverly Leon up front.

Sunderland will play five home matches in the Spring Series at Hetton, including the top three teams from last season - Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal.

Fans can take advantage of a Spring Series Super Pass, which covers all five home games in the mini-season.

The Spring Series Super Pass is £15 for adults and £8 for concessions. It also includes a 20% discount on the 2017-18 SAFC Ladies’ season tickets.

Spring Series Family passes are also available priced at £20 for one adult and child and £40 for two adults and two children.

Tickets for this weekend’s game are available from www.safcladies.com and on cash turnstiles on match day.

Spring Series tickets can also be bought by calling 0371 9111200 and asking for SAFC Ladies, or from Black Cat House between 9am-5pm Monday to Friday.

By post, send a cheque made payable to SAFC Ladies to SAFC Ladies, Black Cat House, Stadium of Light, Sunderland, SR5 1SU.

Enclose your contact details and preferred seating (or a number to call to discuss seating options).