Remember the time when the men could be expected to go out and do the business? Not that long ago. Now, they are under heavy pressure – largely of their own making – to finish the season with a belated flourish, at Craven Cottage on Sunday and at home to the confirmed or would-be champions Manchester United a week after that.
With the Lasses, it’s different, or seems to be. Give them a task and out they go to accomplish it. Bravo!, Chapeau! to Sunderland Women’s Football Club for bouncing back from shocking exclusion from the Super League to retain the Premier League title by beating Cardiff City 2-1 away yesterday. That is some achievement and there’s a cup final still to come on Sunday.
The BBC reported the title-clinching victory in Wales like this:
Beth Mead hit the winner in a 2-1 victory after Nicola Devine’s goal was cancelled out by Terri Beddows.
The Black Cats went into the game knowing they had to win to pip Leeds United, who had completed their games but were two points clear at the top.
As the manager Mick Mulhern pointed out, the team’s exploits are all the more impressive because missing out, in clear defiance of natural justice, on Super League status meant some key players left at the end of another title-winning season a year ago.
“We gave away a few points early doors,” he said (and for once we’ll excuse that awful football cliché), ”but we’ve not lost since October and to win the league again with such a young team is a fantastic achievement.”
Leeds potentially stand in the way again as Sunderland go for a superb double. They’re the opponents in Sunday’s League Cup final at Northampton. If Beth Mead scores again, that’ll be a SuperKev-style 30 or more for the season.
Martin O’Neill may have his work cut out persuading Fulham-bound SAFC supporters that it is worth proceeding to London instead of stopping off in the Midlands to cheer on the Lasses instead.
“Winning the league was the most important thing for us,” said Mulhern, who also tookn his team to the FA Women-s Cup 6th round. “But now we’ve done that it would be amazing to win the cup as well.
“It will be a tough final because Leeds are a very good side and they were worthy title challengers – but it’s my dream now to end the season with a fantastic double.”
* Visit the Sunderland Women’s Football Club site: http://www.sunderlandwfc.co.uk/swfc_002.htm