GOALDEN GIRL Beth Mead wants to say thank-you to her Sunderland “family” with a 30th goal of a stunning first season in senior football.
The teenage striker was a raw recruit to the Sunderland Women side this season, but has been a goalscoring revelation.
Having scored the goal that sealed the Premier League championship at Cardiff last Sunday, she’s hoping there’s one more goal left in her locker as the Lady Black Cats head into their final game of the campaign this weekend – the League Cup final against Leeds United at Northampton Town’s Sixfields Stadium.
“It’s been an amazing season,” said the 16-year-old.
“I don’t think it’s sunk in yet that in my first year of playing with the girls we’ve won the league title – and I scored the winning goal.
“Working with the manager (Mick Mulhern) has been great. He has spent so much time on trying to improve every aspect of my game and all the lasses have given me great support.
“They are my Sunderland family – and they mean the world to me!”
The Lady Black Cats needed to win at Cardiff on Sunday to climb above Leeds in the table and seal a succesful defence of their national title. Nicola Devine opened the scoring in stormy conditions to lift hopes, only for the home side to level and add to the tension. Mead struck after the break though and Sunderland saw out the game to secure the championship.
“I was nervous all week,” she laughed. “It was my first time of potentially winning the league with the lasses and it was very nerve-racking. It was very new to me but the manager and all the team kept me on track and helped me stay comfortable. They were there every step of the way.
“I was over the moon when Nicola scored but the pressure was back on when Cardiff equalised, but it didn’t affect us whatsoever – we carried on and played as if our lives depended on it.
“I was absolutely delighted to score in the second half. When the ref blew for full-time it was an instant relief and everyone was so happy. Everyone was jumping over each other!
“All the hard work from the players, coaching staff, parents and supporters has paid off. Personally, I have worked so hard all season and a reward like this makes it all worthwhile. I can’t believe how many goals I’ve scored and I have to thank my team-mates for creating so many chances.”
Now, Mead and her team-mates look to deny Leeds for a second time, by winning the League Cup this Sunday. And the baby sister of the “family” would love to round off the season with another goal – but is expecting a very tight contest. Sunderland won both league games this season and drew 1-1 at Leeds in the group stage of the League Cup.
“I hope there could be a 30th goal of the season but we will have to see what happens on the day,” she said. “There’s no doubt Leeds will be a very tough fixture. All the games between us have been close.
“We have just beaten them to the league title so they will really want to beat us to a trophy.
“Its a game I’m really looking forward to. To play at Northampton’s stadium for such a big event will be another great experience.
“All my family and friends will be coming from different parts of the country. They are such great support and help me through good and bad times. They are a major part of my footballing life.”