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Sunderland captain Mel Reay was delighted with her side's second half display as they took a 4-2 lead into the second leg of their play-off tie with Bristol City.
"It was a really hard game," Mel told Women's Soccer Scene. "We started brightly and scored two early goals, then we switched off and let them back into the game. At half time, we put things right in the dressing room, came out fighting and we showed we were the stronger team in the second half."
Mel admitted there had been nerves as a manic first half produced four goals and many other chances at both ends. "I think both teams were panicking, wanting to get forward and get the goals," she said. "With away goals counting double, we knew how important it was.
"There were a few nerves - we have a number of young and inexperienced players and it was up to the older ones to help them along."
Mel scored the vital third goal and is hoping that it has gone a long way to helping the Black Cats stay up, but she warns that there will be no complacency. "It was a good finish and I'm pleased with it," she smiled. "I had a couple of chances in the first half and I was a little disappointed but I'm just glad it went in.
"We know we've scored four away goals and we're always confident playing at home, especially at the Academy of Light. It's a long way for Bristol to travel and I'm sure they'll see that when they come up next week, and hopefully we can put things right on the day.
"We are desperate to stay up, especially as we've struggled financially this year and if we do get relegated it doesn't look bright. But if we can stay up, hopefully we can continue and get stronger and stronger."
Donna Langhan netted two goals in the win, including what could be a decisive fourth one in injury time. "I started it off and finished it off and I'm happy with that," said the striker. "We started well but they got back into it and that encouraged them, but in the second half we played really well.
"The players with the big game experience helped the younger ones out on the day. They (City) tired at the end and we stepped it up and could even have scored a couple more."
The second leg will mark Donna's last appearance for the club as she is to retire at the end of the season, but she is pleased with her contribution in the campaign. "It's my last season and all I wanted to do was to help the lasses, bring the younger ones through and make sure we stay up and build from there," she admits. "This season has done them good and if we can stay there, I'm sure there will be a lot of improvement and we can get higher up the league."
But can Donna sign off with a goal? "That would be ideal," she laughs. "It has been my best season for goals. My Dad will not be happy as he has to give me £5 every time I score, so hopefully I'll sign off quite well and quite happy!"
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