Sunderland’s promotion dream in Rachael’s hands

Rachael Laws.
Rachael Laws.
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RACHAEL Laws knows if Sunderland Ladies are to win promotion this weekend she is likely to have her hands full – literally!

The Lady Black Cats’ goalkeeper is braced for a barrage from title rivals Doncaster Belles on Saturday, with the Yorkshire outfit knowing they must win at Eppleton CW if they are to keep their faint promotion hopes alive.

And that means Hebburn-born Laws, who recently won a call-up to the senior England squad, will be in the firing line as the Belles go for goal in a must-win match.

“I’m kind of expecting it,” smiled the 23-year-old. “I said to the girls this week it would be nice if I could have a quiet evening when the game gets under way.

“But I know I’ve got to be on my best game because Doncaster have to win this game if they are going to close the gap at the top of the table.

“And that means they are going to have to go for goal.

“I’ve got to be ready for anything – whatever their tactics might be.

“But I think the one thing we can be certain of is that they’ll give it a real go, and that’s likely to mean a busy night for me.”

Laws will at least provide a formidable barrier to the Belles’ hopes of leaving Hetton with all three points.

The top prospect has kept the tightest defence in the division this season – a major factor in Sunderland being eight points clear at the top of the table.

She has conceded only six times in the league all campaign.

But the Belles, who have four matches remaining and a game in hand on Sunderland, are no slouches in front of goal.

Only Reading, in FA Women’s Super League 2, have scored more goals than them this season.

And Laws admitted: “They’re a good side, there’s no doubt about that.

“But we’re all looking forward to the game.

“I’m excited about it.

“And even though we’ve got more games if we don’t win this one, we’d really love to finish the job this weekend in front of our home supporters.”

Winning a title would be nothing new to Rachael – she has a winner’s medal from Women’s Super League 1 after helping Liverpool become champions of England while on loan last season.

But, fantastic though that experience was, she says it will be extra special to win a promotion with her home team.

“Sunderland is my team,” she told the Echo. “My WSL1 medal has pride of place at home. But it would be different for me to win the league with Sunderland.

“The club means so much to me because so many of us have known each other for so long and it really is like one big family.

“Going to Liverpool last season, though, was fantastic for me.

“It really helped bring my game on and I’ve benefited from that this season.

“Now I’m hoping that by the end of the weekend we’ll have the win we need to go up and I can look forward to being in the same division as Liverpool next season!”