SUNDERLAND Ladies are on course to go into the first break of the Women’s Super League 1 season on a high – if they can get something from tonight’s match at Notts County.
Carlton Fairweather’s side are fourth in the division and just two games away from two-month lull for the Women’s World Cup.
We will have to work hard and play well at Notts County.
Should they collect a point or, better still, all three at Meadow Lane this evening and then see off Birmingham at Hetton on May 9, they will resume their league programme in July in the top half of the table.
While Sunday’s defeat at Arsenal left them with tired bodies and minds, a positive result this evening in Nottingham would put smiles back on their faces (kick-off 7.30pm).
Defender Hayley Sharp said: “We’ve surprised a lot of people how well we’ve started in WSL1.
“But it proves if you work hard and play well then you can get your rewards.
“We will have to work hard and play well at Notts County.
“They have a great set-up, they are a very strong, well-established team with a lot of good players.”
Notts County are just one point and one position below the Lady Black Cats.
The Magpies won 5-2 at bottom club Bristol Academy on Sunday, the same day Sunderland were being put through the mill at Arsenal.
But Sharp says the Sunderland squad are up for this evening’s game and are looking to put the 4-1 defeat at Borehamwood behind them.
“We lost to a very good Arsenal team,” said the centre-half.
“We know we need to pick ourselves up quickly and we have the opportunity to do that.
“We’ve got to forget Sunday and we have to be positive.”
Notts County have more than the Women’s Super League on their agenda.
On Sunday, they will face Everton at Goodison Park in the FA Cup semi-final.
Sharp though insists the Magpies will not be distracted by the lure of a Wembley final.
“Notts County are good professionals with a number of internationals,” she said. “They will just see it as their next match.
“Notts County have a big game against us first, I’m certain the FA Cup will not be on their minds.
“They’ll be going for the points tonight but we’re also going there to try to take the points off them.”
Manager Carlton Fairweather must change his starting line-up for the first time tonight.
Sunderland will be without Abby Holmes who was sent off at Arsenal. It means Tori Williams will switch from left-back to the ride side of the back four.
Last season’s regular left-back Vicki Greenwell will make her first start of WSL1.
The Cats will hope to have star midfielder Rachel Furness fit for action this evening.
The midfielder did not make it out for the second half against Arsenal after hurting her groin in the opening 45 minutes.
Should Furness miss out, Fairweather could start with Kelly McDougall, who has come on as a sub in the last two games.
Notts County are just a point behind Sunderland after registering their first win on Sunday.
The Lady Pies ran riot at managerless Bristol Academy, winning 5-2, thanks to goals by Rachel Williams (2), Aileen Whelan, Fern Whelan and Alex Greenwood.