Sunderland manager Mel Reay declared her team were “full of confidence” ahead of their FA Cup tie against Manchester United.
The fourth round of the competition takes place on Sunday, with the Women’s Super League leaders travelling to the north-east to face the Black Cats at Eppleton Colliery.
Neve Herron’s goal against Blackburn earlier this month sent Sunderland through to the next round and Reay is looking forward to their first competitive meeting with United.
She told the PA news agency: “I think off the back of two league victories so far in January, the team’s full of confidence and it’s a welcome break, probably, from the pressure of playing in the league and what a tie at Eppleton it’s going to be.
“Playing against Manchester United at home in particular, at a sell-out ground, it’s got the appetite for everyone in the north-east because everyone’s talking about it.
“They’re a team in form and the two clubs haven’t played each other before.
“I’ve obviously had lots of fixtures against (United boss) Marc Skinner – we’ve been in opposite dugouts numerous times when he was at Birmingham but we’re looking forward to the game and superstars are hopefully travelling to the north east.”
After a tough start to their second year in the Championship, Sunderland’s season has taken off since that Blackburn victory, winning their last three consecutive league games to sit eighth in the table.
One of those wins came in a thrilling 3-2 derby victory against Durham and Reay is delighted with her team’s turnaround.
She added: “I think we had a tough start, players found it difficult to maybe get some form, maybe a lack of confidence at times stepping on the pitch, but I think the months leading up to Christmas we were really unlucky.
“We kind of hit the restart button at Christmas and to be fair to the players, they’ve worked hard over the Christmas period.
“We had kind of the ‘warm-up’ fixture against Blackburn in the FA Cup to make sure we were ready for Durham and an unbelievable result at Durham – a much-needed three points in a local derby is very hard to do.
“We carried that form going into St Andrews against Birmingham. They came up here earlier in the season and beat us heavily, 4-0 at the Stadium of Light which was disappointing.
“To go there and put in the performance of the season so far and bring back the three points was a huge team effort and one that everyone was delighted with.”
Defending FA Cup champions Chelsea face WSL rivals Liverpool at Kingsmeadow, while Arsenal take on Leeds, who play in the National League Division One North.
Three-time FA Cup winners Manchester City are preparing to welcome Sheffield United, who sit second-from-bottom in the Championship and City boss Gareth Taylor is on the hunt for another trophy.
He told a press conference: “It’s always an aim for us (to win the FA Cup). I think some people or teams might look at certain competitions as more important than others.
“We accept that the league is the competition you really want to win because you have to be faultless and it’s often the marker of a good team.
“In cup competitions you can win six to eight games and it’s not necessarily the best team who wins, but you have to be consistent in those games.
“The last two or three years our record in the FA Cup has been really good.
“It’s a great competition and one that’s still admired by supporters and players, it means a lot to them.”
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