Head coach Melanie Reay described herself as satisfied after Sunderland Ladies registered a goalless draw at Sheffield in their final game before the WSL1 Spring Series.
The Lady Black Cats open their league programme a week on Sunday at Birmingham City and a clean sheet at Dronfield was an encouraging afternoon’s work-out for Reay and the side.
Sunderland had the bulk of the play - with keeper Anke Preuss having little to do at the other end - but they could not turn their pressure into goals.
“I was really pleased with a clean sheet,” said Reay. “That was one of our defensive targets. It was disappointing not to have converted the numerous chances we created - we just were not clinical enough in the final third.
“The pitch didn’t help but we should still have done better. But we are 90 minutes closer in our development for the season and we’re going in the right direction.”
All that was missing was a goal, though they went close several times.
Lucy Staniforth had the best opening after making a good run to get on the end of a Tori Willimas cross from the left, only to shoot over the bar.
Forward Keira Ramshaw headed wide from a Beverly Leon cross.
After the break, Abbey Joice had a shot saved by the keeper, Staniforth went wide while sub Mollie Lambert put herself about successfully and impressed up front without being able to get any reward.
Sunderland operated with a back three of skipper Steph Bannon, Hayley Sharp and Williams with Danielle Brown and young England international, Poppy Pattinson as wing backs.
The squad was minus Abby Holmes, who has been ill, Steph Roche, away on Ireland duty and Maddie Hill, who is back home in Canada for a short break.
It meant Sunderland only had a relatively small squad but Reay has been happy with the the side’s build-up.
“It’s been a good first few weeks in charge and the team are starting to understand how I want them to play,” she said.
“We now have two weeks to prepare for Birmingham.”
Sunderland: Preuss; Bannon (capt), Sharp, Williams; Brown, Staniforth, Joice, Bruinerberg, Pattinson; Leon, Ramshaw. Subs used: Lambert, Watt.