Carlton Fairweather is delighted to see Sunderland Ladies back on track – just in time for the daunting challenge of Manchester City.
The Lady Black Cats made a spirited reaction to their FA Cup semi-final trouncing at Arsenal by fighting back to secure their second point of the WSL1 season on Saturday.
Sunderland recovered from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at Liverpool thanks to a Brooke Chaplen double.
It maintained their unbeaten league start and it was just the fillip with a televised match against Man City this Friday at Hetton.
Fairweather was thrilled with the result at Widnes though he said Sunderland could easily have come away from Merseyside with all three points.
“We should have won it in the last minute, but Brooke has gone just over the bar with a free-kick,” said the head coach.
“We should have had a definite penalty after Brooke’s been wiped out – the linesman has flagged for it, but the referee didn’t give it!
“But if I had been offered a 2-2 before the game I’d have taken it.
“I was really pleased with the girls for their great attitude and commitment, they were fantastic.”
Chaplen took star billing, the former Everton forward taking her season’s tally to five.
Ace striker Beth Mead, who was named the PFA Young Player of the Year at the Professional Footballers Association awards on Sunday night, did not score but earned praise from her gaffer.
“Brooke had a great game and deserved her goals and I was pleased how Beth played, her pace and movement up front caused a lot of problems to Liverpool,” said Fairweather.
There was also promise from Stephanie Roche down the left on her first start of the campaign.
But it was at the back where Sunderland showed their mettle.
Already without the suspended Abby Holmes, Sunderland lost Tori Williams to a groin injury in the warm-up.
It meant teenager Megan Beer started at right-back with Hayley Sharp back at centre-half for her first appearance since a cruciate knee injury last summer.
And when new signing Kylla Sjomen was carried off with a knee injury, it forced Fairweather to bring on another teenager, Danielle Brown.
The 17-year-old, capped by England at U18, produced a great display.
And behind them Norway U20 keeper Hilde Olsen had a good first display of the season.
Fairweather said: “Hilde did well. She had no major saves to make, but what she had to do, she did well.”
Next up though for the Lady Black Cats is a huge test at the hands of Manchester City, who have won all three WSL1 games.
“It’s a game to look forward to,” said Fairweather.