After what has been a fantastic start to the 23/23 campaign for Sunderland Women, head coach Mel Reay was awarded with October’s Barclays Women’s Championship Manager of the Month.
Reay led the Lasses to an undefeated month in October, winning four and drawing one, with the Black Cats defeating Watford 2-1 at home to begin the month, battling to come away with a 1-1 draw against Birmingham at St. Andrew’s.
Sunderland then travelled to Sheffield and the Impact Arena in Alfreton Town to face the blades in the Conti Cup, defeating them 3-2 despite being 1-0 down. Goals coming from Emily Scarr, Mollie Rouse and Mary Corbyn, the latter two getting their first ever goals for Sunderland.
Before ending the month of October with an impressive 3-1 win over relegated Women’s Super League side Reading FC at home and then travelling down to East Sussex to win comfortably 2-0 on the road against Lewes.
It’s been a phrase thrown around a lot or certainly repeated routinely from myself, but this Sunderland team are doing something special. With a large part of that being due to the hard work, intelligence and tactical adroitness displayed by Reay and her coaching staff. Despite being one of few remaining clubs in the division to not be entirely professional, the staff are certainly putting in the hard yards to invigorate, encourage and support these girls into becoming fine and exceptional players. The confidence, humbleness and exuberance illustrated is there for everyone to see and it can only keep the good times rolling.
Yet despite winning the accolade, Reay is mindful and deferential to the fact that this achievement is part of a wider collective, stating:
I know this is supposed to be a personal award, but I see it more as recognition for the great hard work done by a tremendous set of players and just rewards for the diligent efforts made by our staff behind the scenes. Long may it continue.
Sunderland are almost at the halfway point of the season and still sit top of the Championship table without losing a game, conceding four and managing five clean sheets. Thankfully unlike October, November is a slightly calmer month in terms of fixtures. With two matches already being played against Durham Women in both instances, finishing in one win and one draw.
The lasses have two remaining games for November, this Sunday at home against a (on paper) struggling Blackburn Rovers team, before one of Sunderland’s toughest game of the season as they travel down to third place Charlton Athletic who are only three points behind the lasses and have only lost one game all season.
Regardless, the next two weeks will provide an enjoyable challenge for Reay and her team, one which they will surely relish and hope to keep the unbeaten streak going.