Beth: We’ve got to be­lieve to achieve

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By Char­lie Tal­bot-Smith

RED-HOT Sun­der­land striker Beth Mead has told her team-mates to em­brace, not fear, the big­gest game of their ca­reers when they meet Manch­ester City to­day.

Last sea­son’s Women’s Su­per League 2 cham­pi­ons set them­selves the tar­get of sim­ply re­tain­ing their place in the top-flight this term.

But an open­ing day win against back-to-back cham­pi­ons Liver­pool has set the tone for an ex­tra­or­di­nary cam­paign at the Het­ton Cen­tre.

One by one the Lady Black Cats have picked off the chal­lengers be­fore them and now, with three games to go, win­ning the league ti­tle is a re­al­is­tic pos­si­bil­ity.

Vic­tory over star-stud­ded Manch­ester City at the Academy Sta­dium will edge them closer to the sil­ver­ware and Mead wants one last push from her team-mates.

“This is the big­gest game of our sea­son, and I think for a few of the girls this is prob­a­bly the big­gest game of their ca­reers so far,” said Mead, who has struck 11 goals in 11 WSL 1 games this term.

“Man City have got a lot of mo­men­tum at the mo­ment and have got a re­ally good side. Their team is full of Eng­land play­ers, great play­ers all over the pitch, so we will need to watch them and make sure we are ready.

Con­fi­dent

“We can­not af­ford to switch off for a sec­ond, our last three games are all cup fi­nals for us. Each team at the top has to play each other and hope­fully we can go out there and put a span­ner in the works for the other sides.

“If you had asked me at the start of the sea­son I would have bit­ten your hand off to be sec­ond and just safe from rel­e­ga­tion. But now we have the belief and con­fi­dence that we are more than ca­pa­ble of beat­ing these teams. We need to bring that at­ti­tude and belief into these fi­nal three games – and then we can win them and win that ti­tle.”

Else­where to­day, Notts County will be look­ing for re­venge on WSL 1 lead­ers Chelsea, who beat them 1-0 in the Women’s FA Cup fi­nal.

The Blues re­main on course for a clean sweep of do­mes­tic hon­ours, hav­ing also reached the Con­ti­nen­tal Tyres Cup quar­ter-fi­nals. But the Lady Pies are in fine fet­tle, hav­ing gone five games un­beaten in all com­pe­ti­tions.

In the sec­ond tier, Yeovil Town have a mam­moth jour­ney north to Durham for to­day’s lunch-time kick-off.

Third-placed Yeovil went into the week­end eight points out­side of the all-im­por­tant top two and de­feat in the north-east may well end their pro­mo­tion charge. Ready to pounce on any slip-ups are fourth­placed Ever­ton, who welcome As­ton Villa to the Se­lect Se­cu­rity Sta­dium. The Tof­fees are also some way short of Don­caster Rovers Belles and Read­ing, but with two games in hand on those clubs still to squeeze in, look per­haps best­placed to gate­crash the party.

And though there may ap­pear to be lit­tle more than pride at stake as Ox­ford United travel to Mill­wall, both are de­ter­mined to con­tinue to show­case their progress and beat last sea­son’s re­spec­tive ninth and eighth-place fin­ishes.

LAST TIME: Sun­der­land were edged out 1-0 by Manch­ester City when they met in Women’s Su­per League 1 at the start of April IN­SIDE: EMMA FOL­LIS BIG IN­TER­VIEW

SEEK­ING RE­VENGE: Notts County’s Ellen White will be out to beat Chelsea

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