Sunderland can take a big step towards Women’s Super League 1 safey if they can pull off their first away win of the summer.
The Lady Black Cats visit fourth-placed Birmingham City tomorrow (kick-off 2pm) buoyed by a 4-0 rout of Doncaster Rovers.
And if they can make it back-to-back victories at Solihul Motors FC, they can move nine points clear of basement club Belles.
While Doncaster would have five games in hand, Carlton Fairweather’s team would have the points on the board.
Optimism has risen, just like Sunderland’s league standing, and the head coach wants his players to build on that tomorrow.
“The mood has always been fine,” said the head coach.
“But the results have not matched the performances and we’ve not always had the rub of the green.
“Against Doncaster we had the football and a bit of luck and we had a great win.
“That has provided us with a lift and we’ll be looking to take that into tomorrow.”
Birmingham will be a very difficult hurdle for the Lady Black Cats to clear.
The Blues have lost only twice and let in a mere five goals in nine matches, highly impressive stats.
But Fairweather insists City are not unbeatable, saying: “Birmingham are doing really well, they are fourth and deserve to be up there.
“They have only conceded five goals but, at the same time, they have only scored five.
“It’s going to be a difficult game, but it’s one we are looking forward to and one we think we can get points from.”
Fairweather will hope to name an unchanged XI, providing Brooke Chaplen shakes off a knock sustained in training yesterday.
But Keira Ramshaw, who missed last Saturday’s victory over Doncaster after suffering concussion in the Continental Cup defeat by Rovers the previous weekend, is fit to return.
Beth Mead will also be fit having come off early in the second half against the Belles with a neck problem.
And the six-goal striker is braced for a hard battle.
“Both clubs are similar in that they play with a lot of passion and are quite physical,” said the 21-year-old.
“But we go into it with a win behind us and we feel like we can follow that up with more points.”
“It was good to get the first win, we needed to get points on the board.
“It was a long time coming and we played very well too, which boosted our confidence.”