Sunderland Women boss Mel Reay reacts to Charlton defeat

Mel Reay believes her side were unlucky not to come away with at least a point against Charlton Athletic after a promising performance was undone by controversial and unlucky equalising goals, a red card and a cruel stoppage time winner.

Emily Scarr’s cool finish gave the Black Cats a deserved lead in the first half in which they were rarely troubled, but on the hour, Ella Rutherford equalised with a powerful far post header from a corner which shouldn’t have really been given.

Captain Emma Kelly restored the hosts’ lead before everything that could go wrong for Reay and her team did in a manic final 10 minutes.

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Keira Skeels’ drew Charlton level again almost immediately with a deflected strike, Abbey Holmes was shown second yellow card for a robust challenge and then Elish N’Dow won the game in added time.

Mel Reay believes her side were unlucky not to come away with at least a point against Charlton Athletic. Chris Fryatt picture.

Reay said: “We’re obviously disappointed and I feel we deserved more.

"I thought we were good value for money in the first half - we controlled the game and had a lot of possession. But we’ve come out in the second half and not really been at it and we’ve gifted them three goals in my opinion.

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“We’ve not been set up properly on the corner and we’ve got to be better organised, solve problems on the pitch and make sure players are marked tighter.

“We certainly expect a reaction [in the second half] from a team that’s behind, but we’ve got to be ready for that. Looking at the first goal back it’s from a corner and the ball doesn’t look like it’s gone out of play, and it’s hard to take when things go against you like that. But you’ve got to be better in the box when it comes in.”

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Sunderland Women narrowly lost 3-2 to Charlton Athletic in a controversial and fiery match at Eppleton CW in the Women’s Championship. Chris Fryatt picture.

Up next for Sunderland is Women’s Super League side Liverpool in the Continental Cup group stage, with Reay seeing the game as a chance to iron out some defensive and tactical kinks which have been evident this season.

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She added: “The Liverpool game can be used in both ways: it takes the pressure off and allows the players to go out and play without the pressure of losing league points, but it’s an opportunity to tighten up and make sure we’re better defending corners for example.

“We’ll see what we’ve got this week and we’ll put a team that we think can go out there and win the game on Sunday because we beat them last time in the Conti Cup.”

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The two teams faced each other in the 2021-22 competition with the Black Cats winning 4-2 on penalties after the game finished goalless after 90 minutes.

With that in mind, and a Super League side featuring former players Rachael Laws and Rachel Furness coming to Eppleton, Reay is hopeful supporters turn out in force on Sunday.

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She said: “The fans would have enjoyed the game today and a lot of them will be thinking we were unlucky not to get anything. So potentially we may see more people coming to the Liverpool game.

“We want the supporters to stick with us, keep coming and supporting the team because they certainly do help.”