Sunderland Ladies are determined to be no pushovers this season.
That is the view of energetic midfielder Maddie Hill as the Lady Black Cats build towards their second match of the new season.
Hill was one of the stars of the show as Sunderland opened their 2017 programme by beating Aston Villa 3-2 in an FA Cup thriller.
Unfortunately for Melanie Reay’s team, their cup adventure could be over as quickly as it has begun, having been drawn away to Chelsea in this weekend’s quarter-finals.
But Hill says there is a sense of resolve in the squad after a tough period at the club.
Sunderland have taken the decision to revert to a part-time structure for the squad who have lost three of their best players to rival WSL1 clubs, Brooke Chaplen, Rachel Furness and Beth Mead, plus vice-captain and keeper, Rachael Laws, to neighbours Durham.
“I think all the girls were raring to go, it’s been a long time coming,” said Hill.
“There was pressure on, it was the FA Cup and you can’t afford a slip-up – if you don’t really show up, you are out so we all kind of knew it was going to be a tough match.
“We all came with a lot of energy and a point to prove and we did.
“We have a good core of girls and everyone wanted to come out and show we are a still a strong team who are going to compete in this league.
“We want to prove ourselves – show we are not easy to beat.
“We showed a lot of character. When Villa twice drew level we just kept going and pushing for the decisive goal. We created more than enough chances to win, I think everyone would agree we were probably the better team.
“It will come - we will get clinical around the net.”
Close-range goals by Tori Williams and Hayley Sharp plus Lucy Staniforth’s second-half penalty saw off the WSL2 outfit. Sunday’s trip to London will be as hard a tie as the Cats could have got, but they will go there with nothing to lose.
The Blues, WSL1 champions in 2015, reached the quarter-finals with a 7-0 thrashing of Doncaster Rovers Belles.