Sunderland skipper warns against complacency in final game of season
Sunderland Ladies captain Lucy Staniforth is taking nothing for granted when they host bottom side Yeovil in the final game of the FA WSL1 season on Sunday.
The visitors have endured a torrid season in the top flight - scoring just one goal in their 17 league fixtures so far, and conceding 52.
At one point, it looked like they would go through the entire season losing every game, but they did manage two creditable goalless draws at home to Birmingham City and Arsenal last month to pick up their only two points to date.
Sunderland won 1-0 at Yeovil in October but after a decent first half to the campaign, the Lady Black Cats’ season has fallen away - they have lost their last six games and are now second bottom in the 10-team league.
A Sunderland win on Sunday (12.30pm kick-off) though could see them climb to seventh in the final table.
Three points would lift Sunderland above both Bristol City and Everton, who have tough games at home to Arsenal and away to Manchester City respectively.
Both Arsenal and City are in need of wins as they battle to seal the second Champions League spot, behind champions Chelsea.
Staniforth is looking for a significant improvement on the Sunderland performance in Wednesday evening’s 2-0 home loss to Arsenal.
“It is not a given,” she stressed.
“Yeovil have shown in the second half of the season that they are going to pick up points and they are willing to graft.
“They are not an easy team who are going to roll over and be beaten so they are going to come here and look to take what they can from the game.
“The things that are a bare minimum in football – hard work and graft – we need to turn up on Sunday and do that.
“The pressure is on us to do it. It’s in our hands.
“We’ve beaten them away and we have won along the way this season.
“We have put in some good performances.
“The team that showed up on Wednesday can’t show up on Sunday.”
After Sunday’s game, Sunderland are expected to learn their fate in the new women’s football structure on Sunday next week.
The club has applied to remain in the top flight, and is working in conjunction with Northumbria University who will contribute to the financial running of the club.
There were suggestions of a potential change of club name, but it is believed they will retain the Sunderland name.
What remains to be seen, though, is what commitment potential new owner Stewart Donald will have to the women’s team.