Mulhern eyes derby success

UP FOR THE CUP: Sunderland Women manager Mick Mulhern and captain Steph Bannon after winning the League Cup last season.
UP FOR THE CUP: Sunderland Women manager Mick Mulhern and captain Steph Bannon after winning the League Cup last season.
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IT’S Ladies first when it comes to the big Wear-Tyne derby clash!

Sunderland Women take on their Newcastle rivals tomorrow, with manager Mick Mulhern eager to get a big week off on the right note.

The Lady Black Cats boss is red and white through and through ... and, like all Sunderland fans, is desperate for a home win for Martin O’Neill’s men at the Stadium of Light a week tomorrow.

First though, he wants to see Newcastle despatched on the Eppleton CW pitch in Hetton tomorrow (2pm kick-off) when the ladies meet in a League Cup group clash.

Sunderland won the cup last season and Mulhern is again targeting a League and Cup double after last year’s successes.

“I’m greedy,” he laughed. “I want to beat Newcastle tomorrow, I want to go on and win the league and cup again, and I also want to see Sunderland beat Newcastle next weekend!”

Sunderland Women are stong favourites going into tomorrow’s game. They lead the Women’s Premier League again and have suffered only one defeat in the last 12 months – and that was against Super League side Birmingham in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

Newcastle are mid-table in the division below Sunderland, with three wins and three defeats from their six league games.

But Mulhern will make sure his players have the right attitude going into the game.

“It’s a funny game,” he said. “A lot of the Newcastle team are my former players – and they will be out to prove a point.

“The players on each side will know each other quite well. It’s probably the same with the men’s team, but that will go out of the window when the game kicks off. They’ll be getting stuck into each other, that’s for sure!”

“Newcastle know they will have to raise their game. We are the better team, there’s no doubt about that, but we’ll have to be in the right frame of mind.”

Sunderland’s won their first six of this season, but last Sunday were held to a 2-2 draw at Watford – and Mulhern was not happy.

“It was a game we should have won. We dominated in the second half and got ahead, and then had chances to seal it. But sometimes the chances do not go in. We gave them the chance with a rash challenge to give away a penalty and they punished us.”

The League Cup was won at Northampton Town’s Sixfields Stadium last season with a 2-1 win against Leeds United and the Sunderland boss would love to experience another big final.

“One of the my greatest experiences was the 2009 FA Cup final, even though we lost to Arsenal. It was a fantastic build-up and great weekend.

“Winning the League Cup earlier this year was brilliant too. When we clinched the league title at Cardiff, it was a terrible day and not many people there. When we won the cup at Northampton, there was a good crowd. It has a very different feel to it.

“I’m sure we can go all the way again.”

Sunderland are in a group of five teams alongside Newcastle, Leeds United, Nottingham Forest and Sheffield. The top two, along with the best four third-placed teams, will progress to the last 16 of the League Cup.

This is the second fixture in the competition for both teams. Sunderland beat Sheffield, while Newcastle lost to Forest.

Admission tomorrow is £3 for adults, £1 concessions.