Robinson on draw

by Adam Capper

Coach reflects on Reading game.

Sunderland Ladies’ head coach Claire Robinson has praised the character of the Wearsiders following their 1-1 draw against third placed Reading.

The Lady Black Cats fell behind in an out of character first half performance thanks to FA WSL 2’s top scorer Fran Kirby, who scored a stunning solo effort.

But Sunderland battled back in the second period and Rachel Furness’s powerful volley ended Reading’s 100% home record – preserving the Wearsiders’ unbeaten season.

“I couldn’t ask anything more of the girls and they showed great character against a good side who we have said from the begging would be up there at the end of the the season so I think it’s a good point,” said Robinson.

Sunderland started the game sluggishly and survived three scares in the first ten minutes in Farnborough.

The deadlock was finally broken shortly before the break when Kirby was allowed to cut inside a curl a fine effort into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.

“I think a lot of the time in the first half we undid ourselves; we needed to have a bit more quality on the ball and a bit more organisation.

“The girls don’t like losing and when we got to half time they were only one behind so it was certainly within our grasp to turn the game around” said Robinson.

The draw leaves Sunderland two points clear at the top of the table following Doncaster’s 5-1 win over Oxford on Sunday.

“It’s an absolutely vital point, this is a difficult place to come and Doncaster have to come here next week too but we’ll focus on our games and what we have to do. Yes we want to be promoted by until that happens we’ll keep going.”

The ladies’ squad was boosted by the returns of attacking duo Beth Mead and Abbey Joice. Mead had been on duty with England under-20s at the FIFA under-20 World Cup in Canada and completed the 90 minutes while Joice, an unused substitute on Saturday, has been recovering from an ankle injury picked up in May.

“It’s great to have Beth and Abbey back around the squad. Abbey is in our ear all the time wanting to play and to be involved but we’ve got to make sure that she’s ready before we put her back in.”

“Beth is back earlier which is a shame for her and England but, even though we’ve done well while she’s been away, it’s fantastic to have a player with her quality coming back to us.”

The ladies return to home action next weekend when Aston Villa visit the Hetton Centre at 3pm on Saturday 30 August.