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Tottenham Hotspur v London City Lionesses - FA Continental League Cup - Group Stage One - The Hive

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Match Preview: Sunderland travel to Blackburn Rovers in Conti Cup - Ha’way The Lasses!

All the info as Sunderland Ladies travel to Lancashire for their second #ContiCup match tonight against Blackburn Rovers Ladies this evening.

Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images

Thursday 4th November 2021

Blackburn Rovers Ladies vs Sunderland AFC Ladies

FA Continental Tyres League Cup - Group A

The Sir Tom Finney Stadium, Brownedge Road, Bamber Bridge, PR5 6UX

Kick-Off: 19:45


Tickets & Match Coverage

Tickets: Adults £6, Seniors & Juniors £4, Under 5s Free, Family £16. Pay on the gate.

Travel: Regular trains run from Preston to Bamber Bridge Station, connect in Carlisle for Preston.

Coverage: Follow @SAFCLadies and @RokerReport on Twitter for updates on the action.

Highlights: Highlights and a full match replay are available from Friday on the FA Player.

Podcast: Roker Report’s Lasses Podcast Live will be broadcast, as usual, live on Twitter Spaces from 8-9pm BST next Monday. Just go to @RokerReport to listen in.


The build-up...

This Sunderland’s second outing in the League Cup this season, with the opportunity to go top in their group after Liverpool and Sheffield United drew last night, Liverpool winning on pens. The Lasses’ win against Sheffield United on 14th October gave the whole squad a boost, and with only 22 games in the league this season, this competition provides a vital opportunity for the Lasses to gain experience and develop their play.

Neve Herron and Emily Scarr were on the scoresheet back in September when Blackburn travelled to the Stadium of Light. That 2-0 victory was one of our most impressive attacking performances of the season, but the consensus here at Roker Report is that the visitors were very much off their game that day.

Forward Iris Achterhof remains unavailable for selection tonight, but the likes of Holly Manders, Grace Ede, Libby McInnes, and Eve Blakey will be in line for more league cup game time and we could see a return for Claudia Moan in goal.

In her preview on the official SAFC website Mel Reay made the now-familiar prediction of a hard-fought encounter with another FA Women’s Championship side on a surface that might not quite be up to the standards of those we play on at home at Eppleton or the Stadium of Light:

We’re expecting a tough battle with Blackburn. We anticipate the pitch to be quite heavy, given the recent weather conditions, and some of our players have been working and travelling a lot – so it’s a game we do have to manage carefully.

It’ll be a tough test, but it’s one we’re definitely excited for and hopefully players can showcase what they can do, and we can take another positive result in the group.

Sheffield United Women v Sunderland Ladies - FA Women’s Continental Tyres League Cup
Sunderland Ladies celebrate after winning the penalty shoot out during the FA Women’s Continental Tyres League Cup match between Sheffield United Women and Sunderland Ladies at Technique Stadium on October 14, 2021 in Chesterfield, England.
Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images

Rovers did not feature in Matchday 1 of the Conti Cup, and will hope to make up ground on the other sides with a win at the home of Bamber Bridge FC, just along the M65 from Blackburn itself. Manager Gemma Donnelly has a vast amount of experience, taking over in 2013 and guiding them to the Women’s Championship in emphatic style in 2019.

She spoke to the Lancashire Telegraph after seeing her side return to winning ways against Coventry United last weekend:

We were deserving of the result in the end, albeit we made ridiculously hard work of it. I was absolutely fuming in the fact that we’d allowed them to get back into the game because up until that point, I thought it was all us so I hope you can understand how unbelievably pleased I am to get that winning goal right at the death.

I thought we started really well. Obviously, getting an early goal settles you a little bit but then the opposition are trying to get that equaliser. I thought we were pretty comfortable in the first half and had we been more clinical in front of goal, it would’ve afforded us to be probably two or three in front at half-time so whilst I was pleased with the first-half performance, I was a little bit disappointed that we weren’t going in with two or three goals in front.

Midfielder Annabel Blanchard and striker Saffron Jordon both made the FA Women’s Championship team of the week, and former Lewes midfielder Ellie Leek, who also scored in the 3-2 win, took to Twitter to celebrate in the wake of their victory:

I love this team so much and they deserve so many more points than they’ve got this season so to help get them the three points and to score my first goal is just amazing.


League Form (last 5 FA Women’s Championship Fixtures)

Sunderland AFC Ladies - DDLLW

Sunderland’s got back to winning ways in the league on Sunday, and with two points earned the penalty victory in the Conti Cup over Sheffield United the other week, they’ll be looking to maintain this momentum and put pressure on Liverpool at the top of the group.

Blackburn Rovers Ladies - WLLLW

This is Blackburn’s first outing in the Conti Cup this season, and their league form is patchy, to say the least. The last-minute winner against Coventry United on Sunday will be a huge boost to their confidence after three losses on the bounce.


The Stats...

The figures from FootyStats provide us with a mixed picture.

Blackburn are more likely to score at home than Sunderland are to score away from home. At home, Blackburn’s Expected Goals (xG) is 1.42, whereas Sunderland’s xG away from home is currently 0.83.

In terms of Expected Goals Against, Blackburn are more likely to concede at home, with an xGA of 1.27 than Sunderland, with an impressive xGA of 0.74, are when playing away.

But the actual goals scored by Blackburn at home is an average of 2.25, and Sunderland have scored an average of 1 goal per away game. So we should be expecting another close encounter between two sides that have played each other many times down the years.

Sunderland Ladies v Durham Women - Barclays FA Women’s Championship
Scoring away from home? Grace McCatty can do that
Photo by Stu Forster - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

Last time we played at Blackburn Rovers...

10th February 2019

FA Women’s National League North

Blackburn Rovers LFC 2-1 Sunderland AFC Ladies

Flint (2) Ramshaw

This was Maria Farrugia’s debut for the Lasses. Read the match report from The Sunderland Echo and view the highlights below.


Head to head...

(All venues, all competitions, including friendlies)

Sunderland wins: 3

Draws: 0

Blackburn Rovers wins: 4

Sunderland goals: 7

Blackburn Rovers goals: 14

Sunderland Ladies v Blackburn Rovers - Barclays FA Women’s Championship
Neve Herron of Sunderland celebrates with teammates after scoring during the FA Women’s Championship match between Sunderland and Blackburn Rovers at the Stadium Of Light, Sunderland on Sunday 5th September 2021.
Photo by Will Matthews/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

One to watch... Saffron Jordan

The Blackburn captain is one of the most experienced goalscorers in the FA Women’s Championship. She played and studies in Florida before joining Blackburn in 2014, and has remained at the club ever since.

She has scored only two so far this season and has struggled to find the net regularly in the previous two campaigns, but her 47 goals in 36 appearances were vital as her team gained promotion in 2018-2019 - beating Sunderland twice along the way.

Sunderland’s defence will have to be on their guard if Jordan is to be prevented from getting more goals to add to her impressive record tonight.

Sunderland Ladies v Blackburn Rovers - Barclays FA Women’s Championship Photo by Will Matthews/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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