Sunderland striker expects to be fit after horror challenge

Beth Mead
Beth Mead
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SUNDERLAND Ladies’ leading scorer Beth Mead is convinced she will be fit enough to lead the line at the weekend.

The 19-year-old striker suffered a horror challenge from Doncaster Belles’ defender Leandra Little in the closing stages of their top-of-the-table clash at the weekend.

And the forward limped away from the Hetton Centre on Saturday night with an ice-pack heavily bound to the leg injury.

But she told the Echo: “I should be OK.

“I think it’s just a case of looking after it and it should be OK, fingers crossed.

“The fact is, it could have been a lot worse – at least nothing’s broken.”

Insult was added to Mead’s injury when Little, who had already been booked in the game, was not punished for the challenge on the edge of the Belles’ box.

The incident happened in the closing stages of the match with the score at 1-1 and a red card then and a free-kick to Sunderland could have made all the difference.

Instead, Doncaster remained 11-strong and swept up to the other end soon after to score a match-winner which has thrown the promotion race wide open again.

Mead said: “We were gutted.

“We had come out and played as we had wanted to, we took them by surprise, forced them into a couple of goal-line clearances and then got the early goal we wanted.

“I thought we played very well in the first half and were in the driving seat.

“We knew they were going to come at us in the second-half but unfortunately we didn’t deal with it as well as we should.

“We had a decent chance to win it late on but that’s football - you can’t guarantee it’s going to hit the back of the net - and then I had a chance but got wiped out.”

The England Under 20 star though is determined to help the lady Black Cats return to winning ways this weekend when they travel to Oxford.

And she says she’s sure that Sunderland will stay the course and gain promotion, despite second-placed Doncaster reducing the deficit between the two sides to five points at the top of Womens’ Super League 2.

The Belles have three games remaining this season, compared to Sunderland’s two.

“We were disappointed to lose the long unbeaten run that we had,” admitted Mead.

“But that’s the way it goes, we never thought we were invincible.

“Now we just have to look to bounce back in these last two games and I want to be part of us doing that.”