Sunderland defender targets clean sheets

Abby Holmes
Abby Holmes
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SUNDERLAND Ladies have shocked the Women’s Super League – though not themselves – with their great start to the season.

The Lady Black Cats have won two of their first three games to sit third in the fledgling table.

It’s nice to see us competing in the top league where we should have been a few years ago.

But there is only one thing missing so far on their record – a clean sheet.

It will be a big ask to register one at Arsenal on Sunday, but defender Abby Holmes believes one is just around the corner.

Sunderland hit back from being a goal down to Bristol Academy to beat the bottom club 2-1 last weekend, so they approach a trip to the Gunners’ Boreham Wood home with some belief.

“As a unit, I thought we defended well against Bristol,” Holmes told the Echo.

“The goal came from a mistake – they never really broke us down.

“We haven’t kept a clean sheet yet, but we’ll get there.

“If we keep it nice and solid at the back then hopefully we’ll get some more wins and come out with clean sheets as well.”

Holmes is living the dream in WSL1, having been a mainstay in a Sunderland outfit who have produced some outstanding players in recent years but are now only getting to enjoy life as a club in the top division.

“WSL1 is where everyone wants to be as a women’s footballer,” said the 23-year-old. “We’ve come up the leagues as a team, we’ve all stuck together.

“We have lost a few players over the years, but the core of the side is still here.

“It’s nice to see us competing in the top league where we should have been a few years ago.”

Holmes mixes iron-strong tackling with an ability to power forward down the right to assist Sunderland’s attacking play.

She saved her side on Saturday with a great last-ditch piece of defending to deny Bristol sub Gabby Bird in the final minute of stoppage time.

Had Sunderland conceded an equaliser, with virtually the last kick of the game, they would have been devastated.

But they held on for a deserved three points.

“We were a bit disappointed with the result the other week (against Man City), so we knew we had to fight,” said Holmes.

“After we went 1-0 down (to Bristol), we had to dig in and we were very pleased to come away with the three points.

“We had a bit of a talking-to at haf time and we knew what we had to do in the second half.

“We knew if we could push them high and press them we could come away with the three points and we did.”