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Roker Roundtable: How can Sunderland Ladies start creating more clear-cut chances?

With top-of-the-table Durham travelling up the A690 on Sunday lunchtime, Sunderland will need to create and score more goals if they’re to get back to winning ways. Here’s what our panel thinks might work...

Does Keira Ramshaw need to play a bit deeper on Sunday?
| Photo by Chris Fryatt

Ant Waterson says...

For me the answer is simple, move Keira back into midfield. She has been left completely isolated the last two games and it is no coincidence that we have struggled to create chances. Keira is our most influential player and I’m afraid Mel Reay has a difficult decision to make on Sunday. For me, I would be resting Maria Farrugia. Maria is always capable of producing something special but has been poor the last two games and took a few heavy knocks on Sunday against Bristol. The obvious choices are Iris Achterhof and Eve Blakey but Eve has seemingly fallen out of favour this season for whatever reason so I would give Achterhof her full debut against her former side.

Early in the season, Sunderland managed to create a lot down to our wingers getting early balls in. We need to replicate this and get our full backs up and down as well. For that reason, I would be bringing Megan Beer back in as I feel she offers more going forward.

Emily Scarr has been very unlucky not to have played more this season so an argument is there for her to come in as well and maybe move Neve Herron to the wing.

Sunday is a difficult game but I feel we can get to Durham as long as we attack them.

Photo by Chis Fratt

Rich Speight says...

The route of more goalscoring opportunities has to go through the footballing philosophy that guides their training and preparation. This season, Sunderland Ladies have looked at their best when they’ve shown confidence in their passing game, and stuck to the plans that Mel Reay has clearly outlined.

Early on against Bristol on Sunday, the Lasses looked like the better side in terms of their overall play - good movement, crisp interplay, combinations down the flanks and through the middle, pressing high up the pitch when out of possession - all that was missing was the final ball. We then, to borrow Lee Johnson’s phrase he uses when describing the worst aspects of the men’s squad’s play - reverted to type; aimless balls that were easily dealt with by an experienced defence, with the forwards feeding off scraps.

The women’s and men’s sections of the club, along with the age group squads, are all meant to be part of the transformation of the brand of football played and coached by everyone at SAFC. Winning, yes, but winning the right way - and trusting that talented, flair players will be able to produce the goods if given the right structure. Sunderland Ladies are clearly pretty solid at the back and have shown flashes of brilliance in the final third.

We may need to freshen up the line-up, but ultimately the Lasses need to stick to their guns, be confident in their abilities, and trust that good football - rather than the route one that some of the other FA Women’s Championship teams play - will produce the results.

Herron & Brown - two of Sunderland’s creative talents
Photo by Chris Fryatt

Graeme Field says...

We’ve found it difficult to create chances in our last two games against both Lewes and Bristol City. To change this and create more opportunities against Durham, I would rest Maria Farrugia. This would allow us to play Emily Scarr up front, with Keira Ramshaw playing in behind.

Also, fullbacks Louise Griffiths and Megan Beer could overlap both of the wide players, Abbey Joice and Jessica Brown, to create the overload when in possession.

This will also allow us to be compact out of possession against a side who are established at this level. Also, the sight of Farrugia coming on later in the game would be a nightmare for the Durham defence, with her strength and trickery.

Crystal Palace Women v Sunderland Ladies - Barclays FA Women’s Championship
Emily Scarr of Sunderland runs with the ball during the Barclays FA Women’s Championship match between Crystal Palace and Sunderland at Selhurst Park on September 12, 2021 in London, England.
Photo by Jacques Feeney/Getty Images

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