Ladies' spirit praised after defeat

by Laura Foad

Head coach reflects following home reverse.

Sunderland Ladies head coach Claire Robinson praised the side’s second-half performance despite seeing the Lady Black Cats lose 2-0 to Everton Ladies.

Goals from Nikita Parris and Lauren Davies meant that the Lady Black Cats’ hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals of the FA WSL Continental Cup came to an end, but Sunderland showed real character by dominating the match after the half-time break.

Two first-half yellow cards, picked up in quick succession by Abby Holmes, meant that the home team had to play 45 minutes a player down.

This did little to deter the home side, who came out of the dressing room hoping to get something from their WSL 1 opponents and demonstrating the attitude and determination prevalent throughout the squad.

“Defensively I couldn’t have asked anything more of the girls and I was happy that in the second half, we had some chances and could have even gone ahead and won the game,” said Robinson.

“The girls worked hard today and it was a good test for us.”

Sunderland went in at the break 1-0 down and having just lost Holmes, Robinson knew that she would have to re-think her tactics to focus her team on the challenge ahead.

“The girls didn't need too much gearing up, they just needed a bit of guidance and re-organisation which is why we went 4-4-1.

“Then it was just pinning down a bit of detail, discussing what to do when we didn't have the ball and how we could be constructive and positive when we do get on the ball.

“We knew we couldn’t affect the decision that had already gone but we asked ourselves what we could get from the second half that could be positive and help us to move forward.”

Captain Stephanie Bannon, who made her first home appearance since being sidelined through injury, was also keen to praise the second-half performance.

She said: “We were much better in the second half and the crowd were brilliant today, but unfortunately we could get the right result for them or us.

“It was just a case of having no fear, as we were a goal down and a player down and we knew that if we were going to win the game then we would have to do something special - unfortunately that didn't come.”

Sunderland’s next match sees them return to WSL 2 action where they are undefeated and Robinson believes that in spite of their last two results, the team will move forward positively.

She said: “Today is a good starting block because playing WSL 1 sides is where we want to be.

“It was a good test and losing a player meant we got a little bit of extra fitness for our girls.

“Now the focus is back on to the league and we will take each game at a time."

Bannon remains positive that her team mates will return to winning ways in the league and believes that the two matches against WSL 1 opponents have been a positive experience for them.

She said: “We haven't lost yet in the league which is a great omen for us.

“We have played WSL 1 teams and even though we didn't get the results we'd hoped for, we have really tested ourselves and it shows that we are nearly there, but not quite yet.

“We will go into the Doncaster Rovers Belles game off the back of a defeat but we will train hard and go back to the drawing board and hopefully we can find our form again.”

Fans are being asked to register their interest in travelling to support the SAFC Ladies in their crucial top-of-the-table clash against Doncaster Rovers Belles at the Keepmoat Stadium on Saturday 26th July, KO 6.30pm.

To register your interest in travelling on the SAFC Ladies supporters' bus, please email before Friday 18th July.