Sunderland Ladies will be back at work on the training ground at the Academy of Light tonight in a bid to keep their glory hopes alive.
Hopes of reaching the knock-out stages of the Continental Tyres Cup are almost over following last night’s 2-0 defeat at Liverpool - their second loss in the group.
They need to beat Doncaster Rovers Belles at Hetton on Sunday in the final Group B fixture and hope other results are kind in order to clinch one of the best third place spots.
But the Lady Black Cats are still in the Women’s Super League 1 title picture and skipper Steph Bannon says the squad will give it their all as the season comes to a climqax.
A night off training would not be uncommon after tough week on the road - Sunderland drew 1-1 at Birmingham City in WSL1 on Sunday.
But management and players are keen to get things right for what promises to be a difficult final CTC game against the Belles.
Sunderland must collect the points to give themselves a chance of going through but they also need to produce a good performance before going to Manchester City seven days later in a match pivotal to the WSL1 title race.
Carlton Fairweather’s side have shocked everyone, with the possible exception of themselves, to hold down second place going into the last three matches.
And captain Bannon says Sunday will be vital to their cause.
“We need to get back into training tonight and prepare well for the Doncaster game,” said the central defender.
“It will be a tough test for us and we need to go back to the drawing board and do the basics right.
“We had a good performance at Birmingham at the weekend and may be not so good last night.
“Hopefully on Sunday we can put it right.
“We’ve not done as well in the Continental Cup as we would have liked but we’ve done well in the Women’s Super League.
“It’s been a full squad effort to get us to where we are.
“Now we have to keep that effort going to get us over that finish line.”
To say Sunderland were not at their best last night at the Select Securitry Stadium would be an understatement.
They struggled to find any rhythm in a poor first half and while they improved after the break, they were sunk by goals from Natasha Dowie and Katrin Omarsdottir.
“It was a frustrating game and, to be honest, we didn’t deserve anything from it,” admitted Bannon.
“They were better than us all over the pitch - we tried but it just wasn’t our night.
“We’d worked hard in training to prepare for this game, but it just didn’t go our way.
“We need to win on Sunday just to give ourselves a chance of qualifying in third place.
“We knew we needed to get something from last night if we were going to qualify automatically.
“We must now go to Plan B, look to win on Sunday and see where that would take us.”
Sunderland are likely to be without Doncaster-born defender Tori Williams, who injured her ankle early in last night’s defeat.