Fifth-place finish the last-day target for Sunderland Ladies

Sunderland Ladies striker Abbey Joice lines up a shot in the midweek loss at home to Manchester City. Picture by Tim Richardson.
Sunderland Ladies striker Abbey Joice lines up a shot in the midweek loss at home to Manchester City. Picture by Tim Richardson.
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Boss Melanie Reay has urged Sunderland’s players to bury the hurt of the late, late midweek defeat to Manchester City by clinching a fifth-place finish in the WSL1 Spring Series.

The Spring Series, added in to bridge the gap between English female football’s return to a winter game from its pleasant summer spectacle, ends tomorrow

It has been short and sweet and will prove sweet in the extreme for Sunderland Ladies should they beat Reading at Hetton (kick-off 3.30pm).

The Lady Black Cats can guarantee themselves fifth spot with three points against the Royals.

With the elite sides Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool occupying the top four, it would mean Reay’s side would be the ‘best of the rest’, not a bad way to go into their summer break.

Sunderland should have been going into tomorrow’s match on a high, having taken a point from champions City on Wednesday night, only to lose to a controversial injury-time Georgia Stanway winner.

While the teenager’s strike was an excellent one, she was fortunate to avoid beiong penalised for climbing all over home sub Mollie Lambert.

“I’ve told them to take all their horrible thoughts and negative energy and turn it into a positive by finishing on a high against Reading,” said Reay.

It will be a big ask, given her players put so much into the contest, physically and mentally.

But the Wearsiders proved what they were capable of.

“It was a great performance from the girls,” added Reay, who saw Steph Roche and Abbey Joice go close with gilt-edged opportunities..

“We can do it, but we must find consistency.

“We were unlucky to lose in the first minute of injury time to the champions, but we lost 7-0 to Chelsea.

“We have to find consistent performances.”

A draw would be good enough to seal fifth place, providing Birmingham do not beat leaders Chelsea.

But Sunderland want to complete the eight-game series with a victory.

“It would be a nice way to sign off and to do it in front of our fans would be great,” added Reay.