Sunderland Ladies boss has this message after Bristol City defeat as Cats look to bounce back against Durham

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Sunderland Ladies head coach Mel Reay is confident her side will learn from the defeat to Bristol City as they look to bounce back in next week’s Wearside derby.

The Lady Black Cats’ unbeaten start to the season ended in the South West as Melissa Johnson’s penalty and a wind-assisted free-kick from Aimee Palmer wrapped up all three points for the hosts in horrendous conditions.

Despite conceding first in their last two games, Reay’s side has fought back to draw against Crystal Palace and Lewes, with Charlotte Potts’ later header sparking hopes of a repeat against a determined Bristol City side who were relegated from the Women’s Super League last season.

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“I thought it was a tough game,” Reay told the club’s website.

Sunderland Ladies head coach Mel Reay.Sunderland Ladies head coach Mel Reay.
Sunderland Ladies head coach Mel Reay.

“There wasn’t much in the first half; it was pretty even. We changed things slightly in the second half as we wanted to play on the front foot but unfortunately, they’ve scored from two set-pieces which is disappointing.

“It’s important [to show character]. We were never going to go the season unbeaten. Yes, we’ve been beaten but we haven’t been outplayed, we were unfortunate with the handball.”

“We’ve scored ourselves from a corner at the end then had a late flurry of attacks but unfortunately we couldn’t find the end product.”

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Reay’s focus now turns a home derby against Durham which will be the first time the rivals have faced each other since meeting in a League Cup tie in 2017. The Wildcats went top of the FA Championship on Sunday with a 2-0 victory over Lewes, with ex-Black Cat Bridget Galloway among the scorers.

She added: “We’ve done well so far, and we’ve said there is going to be ups and downs. This is a down, they’re disappointed but we’ll be looking to bounce back next week.

“We’ll train hard during the week and hopefully have a good performance at home against Durham.

“I’m sure there will be a good crowd there but it’s important that we concentrate on ourselves and do the right things in order to get points from each game that we play.”

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