Sunderland Ladies v Manchester City: Lady Black Cats can’t let table-toppers play their pretty football

Brooke Chaplen: Top Sunderland goalscorer
Brooke Chaplen: Top Sunderland goalscorer
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Sunderland Ladies are back on track after a harrowing Women’s FA Cup semi-final – but now they are facing a real examination of their ability and character.

The Lady Black Cats tonight meet the might of Manchester City, the world’s richest club, in the televised WSL1 showdown at Hetton (kick-off 7.45pm).

Man City are a brilliant footballing side. We are all going to have to be 100% to get a result

BROOKE CHAPLEN

City’s money has been well spent and the Sky Blues parade a side packed full of international talent, including England and Wearside legends Steph Houghton and Jill Scott.

They boast a 100 per cent record in WSL1 with three straight wins and have yet to concede a goal.

But Sunderland’s leading scorer, Brooke Chaplen, insists the home side will not be turning up just to make up the numbers at the Eppleton CW ground.

Indeed, the 27-year-old says the Lady Black Cats must get in their faces.

“Man City are a brilliant footballing side,” said Chaplen. “We are all going to have to be 100% to get a result.

“We have to be prepared physically and mentally for the challenge.

“We know the pattern of play they have, they like to keep the ball on the floor and move it around – it’s very hard to play against. When you are up against, that you have to look to stop the side from playing keep-ball.

“We have to be aggressive in our approach.

“Teams like City love time on the ball and lots of touches, so it’s important we have controlled aggression and try to unsettle them.

“But it’s also vital that, when we get on the ball, we look to play football.

“City are good, but we also know that any team in this league is beatable and we have to have that mindset when we play them.”

Chaplen is in a rich vein of form with five goals already this season, including a brace at Liverpool last Saturday.

Her double saw Carlton Fairweather’s side fight back from two down to draw 2-2 and were denied a clear penalty.

“My goals were not amazing,” she said modestly. “I was just in the right place at the right time.

“I’d love to keep my scoring run going, but the team is the important thing.

“We performed really well after being unlucky to be two down.

“Their first goal came when the ball rebounded off the post to the girl who scored and their second a clearance hit one off our girls and went in.

“We showed great character and hard work to come back and we were unlucky not to go on and win.

“The FA Cup semi-final was not good enough by anyone’s standards – we needed to prove ourselves and we did that at Liverpool.

“Now we have to keep that going.”