Sunderland boss demands positive reaction

Beth Mead scores for Sunderland. Pic by Susan Gutteridge.
Beth Mead scores for Sunderland. Pic by Susan Gutteridge.
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MICK Mulhern says he will not tolerate doubt or disappointment from his title-chasing footballers in training this week.

The Sunderland Ladies manager was as dejected as any of his players on Saturday night after failing to get the victory over Doncaster Belles which would have guaranteed promotion to the Womens’ Super League 1.

But he says it is imperative the Lady Black Cats now bounce back – physically and mentally.

“We didn’t play too badly but we lost the game, so now we have to forget about an off-night in terms of the result and push on,” he said.

“I fully expect my players to have picked themselves up over the weekend and be properly up for our next game – away to Oxford on Sunday.

“If they haven’t, I will sense it in training tomorrow and it’s something I won’t accept.

“If they want to be playing this Sunday then they have to have a smile on their face tomorrow, otherwise I will be thinking about somebody else for their position.”

Not that Mulhern is questioning the character of his squad.

“This group of players will pick themselves up, dust themselves down and go again,” he said.

“They will learn, move on and they will be fine against Oxford – I’ve got no doubts in my mind that we will come home with the points from that match.”

Should Sunderland accomplish that next Sunday, then they have every chance of being promoted.

But Mulhern was hugely frustrated that his team could not get over the winning line on Saturday by notching a win over second-placed Doncaster Belles which would have seen the Wearsiders crowned league champions.

The manager said he felt “mugged” by the Belles after his side succumbed to two second-half goals.

“It’s a massive disappointment,” he admitted.

“We controlled large parts of the game, especially in the first half and it looked as though it was going to plan.

“We had the lion’s share of play and created the better chances but in the last 30 minutes we were too cautious, not brave enough.

“We had to see it out and tried our best to do that.

“But in the end it came down to a couple of individual errors, a couple of poor judgements for the two goals we conceded.

“Doncaster didn’t have too much in the way of goalscoring chances apart from that and I wasn’t that impressed with them – I thought they were very direct.

“We did enough to get a point out of the game. On another night we might have got all three.

“It could easily have gone our way, which is why I feel mugged.”