Sunderland Ladies relish Durham derby opener

Sunderland's Bekki Bass takes on Liverpool last weekend
Sunderland's Bekki Bass takes on Liverpool last weekend
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SUNDERLAND Ladies boss Mick Mulhern says the form book will NOT go out of the window in tonight’s derby clash at Durham Women – because there is no form book!

The two sides clash at New Ferens Park in both clubs’ opening game of the new Women’s Super League 2 season (7.30pm).

Not only is it the first game of the new league campaign, but it is newly-formed Durham’s first ever league match.

Even so, the Lady Black Cats will be strong favourites to get their campaign off to a winning start, with Mulhern pressing home on his players the importance of getting into the stride as early as possible.

“It’s a big week for us,” said Mulhern, whose side were knocked out of the FA Cup at the fith round stage on Sunday by Liverpool, the reigning FA WSL1 champions.

“We had our little cup run and now it’s down the league.

“We also have Reading at home on Sunday and they are one of the strong favourites to win the division.

“It’s vital to get a good start. The players know what is expected of them tonight; to set their standards and work very, very hard to achieve them.”

Both teams go into the game on the back of defeats in the fifth round of the FA Cup. Sunderland lost 2-0 to Liverpool, while Durham went down 2-1 to Portsmouth, from the division below.

“It’s a derby, albeit a brand new one,” said Mulhern.

“We’re looking forward to it, and finally getting the league season under way.”

Sunderland have had bad news with Sarah McFadden being diagnosed with an anterior cruciate ligament injury – the same as Natalie Gutteridge, Lauren Briggs and Becky Salicki.

“It’s far from ideal,” added Mulhern. “It means we’ll have a very youthful bench, but we have a lot of good young players coming through.”

Durham head coach Rob Atkin is relishing an historic night.

“We’re all looking forward to it and we’ll use the Portsmouth defeat as a springboard.

“We talked about not wanting to have this losing feeling and some times you lose games in the last minute but that’s the way it goes.

“A local derby is always a bit special and this will be no different.

“Tonight is about the players making history on the pitch as Durham Wildcats take to the pitch at this level for the very first time.”

Admission is £4, with £2 concessions.