Mel Reay reflects on Sunderland's season so far ahead of return to home turf in the Championship

Mel Reay is hopeful that a return to home turf can see Sunderland secure their first Championship win on Sunday.

Sunderland boss Mel Reay
Sunderland boss Mel Reay

A narrow 1-0 defeat to Bristol City last weekend means Reay's side have one point from three but the head coach believes that given the challenging fixture list so far, there are reasons to be upbeat.

Charlton Athletic's visit on Sunday will be Sunderland's second home game of the campaign and their first at Eppleton (11.30am KO), where Reay hopes a positive atmosphere can make a big difference.

"Everyone will always look at results but we've improved as we've gone," Reay said.

"We've had three tough games, Durham away was always going to be a tough game and we were delighted both with the point and the performance.

"Birmingham at the Stadium of Light we've had a blip and then we've gone away to Bristol City, played well but not been able to get anything from it.

"We're hoping our fortunes change on Sunday and it'll come together for us to get some points on the board.

"We've spoken this week about getting back to Eppleton and making it a fortress, it's a long time since we've had a league game there and we're looking forward to it.

"The support we get there is massive and spurs the team on."

Sunderland had been forced to wait three weeks from their disappointing 4-0 defeat to former WSL side Birmingham City at the Stadium of Light to return to action, and Reay was pleased with much of what she saw from her side against currently top of the table Bristol City.

"There was a huge improvement from the Birmingham game - we'd waited so long from that one to get back on the pitch and to put that right," Reay said.

"We defended excellently and it's unfortunate that we've been caught out from a transition on our own attacking throw in.

"We've had numerous opportunities to score but we're just missing that little bit of luck in front of goal, there were a lot of blocked shots through the game.

"Naturally we're disappointed because we felt we deserved something from the game.

"For us it's just about getting the right balance.

"We've had new players coming into the team, we played a bit differently on Sunday because of how they set up, and we nullified their attack other than one moment where they got in behind us and punished us, but that's the small margins in sport and we need to make sure we're switched on for the full 90 minutes."

Charlton bounced back from a disappointing defeat against London City Lionesses to secure an impressive win over Birmingham in their last Championship game.

"It's just the league in general and something we speak about a lot, anyone can beat anyone on any given day so you need to turn up and focus on your own performance," Reay said.

"We take belief from winning both games last year, but we know that'll be a big motivation for them to prevent that from happening again. So it'll be a tough game, as they all are, we'll be prepared properly."