Sunderland coach gets players ready for Man City test

Rachel Furness
Rachel Furness
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CARLTON Fairweather says his Sunderland Ladies side are ready for their next big test when mighty Manchester City come to town.

The Lady Black Cats, buoyant after their brilliant win at Liverpool in their Women’s Super League 1 opener, stage their first home match tomorrow at Hetton (kick-off 6.30pm).

I needed them to get their minds on Man City because, obviously, it’s a very important game.

It promises to be every bit as tough as the match at Widnes last Wednesday.

City are one of the richest clubs on the planet and their wealth is reflected in the ladies squad which boasts some incredible talent.

But Sunderland displayed their credentials against champions Liverpool and will need a similar effort tomorrow, with Fairweather feeling he needed to banish any celebrations quickly.

“I had to bring the girls back down to earth pretty much straight away,” he told the Echo.

“It was a great win and the girls played really well.

“But I needed them to get their minds on Man City because, obviously, it’s a very important game.

“With the two matches being in close proximity to each other, we had less than a week to get geared up and prepare.

“Now obviously it is just over a day away and we’re looking forward to it.”

City opened their WSL1 programme on Sunday with a goalless draw against Birmingham City.

But it was a game they should have won with England striker Toni Duggan guilty of missing City’s best chances.

Birmingham were also reduced to ten players just before half-time when Freda Ayisi was sent off for an off-the-ball incident.

TV cameras subsequently showed City and England keeper Karen Bardsley had been involved – and she has been charged with violent conduct.

Bardsley has until this evening to make an appeal, but she now looks set to miss the Sunderland game.

Fairweather, meanwhile, acknowledges that his side must show patience and discipline against a team who play a possession game.

Aside from one early lapse, the Sunderland back four last week performed superbly with full-backs Abby Holmes and Tori Williams flanking Steph Bannon and Hayley Sharp in the centre of defence.

The experienced Sarah McFadden also made her presence count as did Rachel Furness, who was an excellent link between the defensive line and the advanced players.

“City are a team who look to keep the ball,” said the Cats head coach.

“I’ve watched clips of them and they are a very tidy side, they play a very similar game to their first team.

“City have some top players and we must make sure we watch the likes of Jill Scott and Toni Duggan. They are a very dangerous side, full stop.

“We held our shape very well last week and kept the ball in good spells.

“We’ve got to keep our shape again and do our jobs because they are a very dangerous side.”

Sunderland hope to have Furness fit after the midfielder took a knock against Liverpool.

But Suzanne Mulvey remains doubtful because of illness after the Scottish striker missed the trip to the Halton Stadium.