Mel Reay was disappointed with Sunderland Ladies’ result and performance against Liverpool, but says her side will use the upcoming international break to reflect, recover and prepare for the busy festive schedule.

Despite taking a 20th minute lead through Emily Scarr, the Black Cats fell to a 3-1 defeat to the league leaders with Yana Daniels and Leanne Kiernan turning the game on its head before half time and a fantastic strike from Melissa Lawley on the hour securing a comfortable win for the Reds.

And Reay says her players have got to be better with the ball when they come up against the bigger teams, with Super League outfit Aston Villa at home next up in the League Cup.

“We obviously knew it was going to be a tough game,” she told “But to go one-nil up and to hold that lead for 30 minutes, and it was just the manner we conceded the goals.

“The first one was dubious; I don’t think it was a corner. They have managed to score and then it’s a bit of a sucker punch right before half time when they got the second one. So yeah, we’re disappointed with those two goals in the first half.

“Liverpool were always going to be a threat; we knew they were going to dominate the ball. They are a full-time professional team and that’s what we’re going to be up against. But we stayed strong, our shape was good at times, we’ve just got to be better on the ball.

“That’s the thing I was most disappointed with: we’ve got to be better on the ball, we’ve got to be braver. We’ve got to keep possession better to be able to pose more of a threat against the bigger teams.”

Mel reay

Although Sunderland welcomed Maria Farrugia back into the starting XI after recovering from a leg injury and Abbey Joice – who missed last week’s draw against Watford due to illness – also returning to the midfield, knocks to both Faye Mullen (hip) and Scarr (knee) in either half compounded a bad evening.

But the Lionesses’ World Cup qualifier against Austria at the Stadium of Light on Saturday gives Reay and her team an opportunity to reflect and recover before a hectic December.

Reay said: “It’s a chance to pause again and reflect and see where we are at. We’ve got two Continental Cup games, an FA Cup tie and a league fixture before Christmas so we will make sure that we are learning and are putting in performances that are going to get more points in the future.”