SUNDERLAND Ladies’ manager Mick Mulhern is confident his table-topping side can clinch promotion this weekend against the only side in the division capable of denying them it.
The Women’s Super League 2 leaders take on second-placed Doncaster Belles at the Hetton Centre this Saturday knowing a home win guarantees elevation to the top flight.
And Boldon-born Mulhern reckons home advantage coupled with the character of the Black Cats’ squad can help seem them through.
“We all know what’s at stake in this game,” he said.
“We just have to make sure we do our jobs right on the day.
“If we do, we win the title, simple as that.
‘It’s exciting, although it will be a real challenge for us because Doncaster are an excellent team.
“But the good thing is that having won the league for the last three seasons in a row, we’re used to being in this situation.
“We know the importance of keeping our heads and getting over the line.”
This is the third time this season the two teams have met, but the first time the clash has taken place on Wearside soil - something Mulhern hopes to make the most of.
“We’ve beaten them down there in front of a partisan crowd in the cup and we’ve drawn with them in the league,” he said.
“Now we’re looking forward to having them here at the Hetton Centre in front of our own crowd, and hopefully a big crowd.
“I’d love us to show everybody that we are not just a footballing area for the men but for the women too.
“I’d love to see the crowd having their part to play and hopefully giving Donny Belles an atmosphere to really think about.
“And of course it would be great for us if we could win the league in front of our own fans because the last three times we’ve won it, we’ve won it away from home.
“Winning it at home would just make it a bit more special.”
Mulhern says it will be business as usual in the run-up to Saturday’s game, despite the enormity of the fixture.
“I plan to keep our arrangements very similar to how we would approach any other game,” he revealed.
“I don’t need to try to building the players up for this game.
“If they can’t get themselves up for this match then there would be something wrong.
“In fact my job is going to be quite the reverse, I’m going to have to keep their feet on the ground and make sure that, if anything, they don’t get too hyped up.
“The great thing from our point of view is that we’re a fair few points ahead of them at the top of the table and have been for some time.
“We don’t have to win this game; Doncaster do.
“So we’ll try to win the match because that’s what we try to do every simple time we step on to the pitch – but the important thing is that we make sure we don’t lose.
“If we don’t win this weekend, then we’ve still got two games remaining in which to do it.
“But, yes, it would be lovely to do it at home by beating the Belles.
“I don’t know anyone connected with the club who is not excited about the prospect of winning the league this weekend.”
The Ladies game this Saturday was moved back an hour from 6.30pm to 7.30pm to allow supporters to attend both the men’s game at Stoke (kick-off 3pm) and the prospective title-clincher at the Hetton Centre.
Tickets are £2 for adult season-card holders and free for Under 16 card holders, (both on production of their season card).
Tickets for non-season card holders are priced £4 for adults and £1 for under 18s and over 65s.
Tickets are available from the Hetton Centre on the day of the game or in advance from the ticket office at the Stadium of Light.