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Women's Football News
Kelly McDougall has urged her Sunderland team mates to build on their 2-1 victory over Arsenal at the weekend.
The midfielder became the first player to score a match winning goal against the Gunners in a league game since Casey Stoney did so in October 2003 (their only other defeat was 3-0) and she told Women's Soccer Scene that the result was reward for hard work following their 5-1 defeat to Arsenal the previous week.
"We worked on quite a few things in training to turn negatives into positives," she said. "We got stuck into them and didn't give them time on the ball and, after all the effort we put in, it was a well deserved win.
"The previous week, we let in three goals quite quickly and showed a little naivety, but this time we kept our heads up after going behind and scored five minutes later with a good finish from Jordan Nobbs, after Sophie Williams played a great through ball."
Kelly was full of praise for all of the team but warned that more work needs to be done in the future. "It was a great team effort," she enthused, "our two centre halves played really well and coped excellently with Julie Fleeting as well as Kim Little. Everybody stepped up and grew in confidence and it went from there.
"When we came up this season we wanted a top six place but this result has highlighted that the best teams can be turned over on the day. We want to challenge these teams at this level - our team is quite young and have learned quickly. The girls are maturing at a great rate and developing quickly, no one bar myself had any real experience of playing in the top flight at the start of the season.
"However there is a long way to go - we haven't made it yet and must stay strong and focused, there is a lot more hard work to put in now."
The win over Arsenal probably ranks alongside last season's F.A.Women's Cup semi final victory over Chelsea at the best in Sunderland's history. "They were both different wins, but both great wins," says Kelly. "Sunday was nice to send out a message to the rest of the league but the Chelsea match was unbelievable. The Cup run gave us a lot of respect and hopefully we've now shown that it was no fluke - they have been two good experiences but we have set our standard now.
"Rachael Laws has come in this season in place of the injured Helen Alderson in goal and has been fantastic. No one had any doubts about her ability and she is a great shot stopper. Rachael is another of the young players who has come in and taken her opportunity and that has been another bonus for us."
It was Kelly herself who scored the all important goal with just four minutes remaining, to give her side the points. "In the game moment, it was one of my best ever goals," she said. "The fact it came against Arsenal made it extra special. I don't remember much about it to be honest, Jordan (Nobbs) played in a cross and I brought it down before volleying it on the half turn, and it probably caught Emma (Byrne) a little unexpected.
"Everyone was jumping around and the crowd were cheering loudly, it was a great moment for me and the team."
Since joining Sunderland at the start of last season, Kelly has returned to her best form and has not ruled out the chance of international football once again. "I'm enjoying my football right now," she said. "It's a difficult thing regarding England - I always want to play and really enjoyed my experiences with them before.
"I just want to keep playing well for my club, keep progressing and have a good influence on the team. I'll just keep doing what I can and whatever comes comes, I'll see what happens.
"I have developed a nice link in midfield with Jordan Nobbs and we complement each other very well and have a great bond. The team is a very close knit one and I have got great support here in the North East, I want to do my very best for Sunderland."
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