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Katie’s Report: Farrugia shines as Sunderland Ladies get the perfect start

The Lasses played away at Coventry United on Sunday, and our newest Roker Reporter, Katie Hume, was there to watch Mel Reay’s side win the match 1-0 with a fine performance.

See Chris Fryatt’s wonderful photos from the game in glorious HD at
| Photo by Chris Fryatt

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Some people wondered about Holly Manders not being in the starting line-up for Sunderland’s opening game of their FA Women’s Championship season last Sunday, but I think personally it was more surprising to see Eve Blakey not start after her 4 goals for the English Colleges. That said I think Mel went for the right mix of experience and youth. Mel is a very experienced manager, I’ve learned to trust her on lineups because she always gets it right.

After Sunderland had a dominating start the match was even for the first half, so it was fair enough for the sides to go in level at halftime. Both sides had chances but couldn’t produce in the final third.

Going in with the game tied will have shown the lasses that they can hold their own in this league. Half time gave a chance for the Lasses’ nerves to settle and, when they came out for the second half, they were able to play the type of game that they wanted to play. Never underestimate the power of Mel’s team talks either!

I know that Maria Farrugia got a lot of praise on the radio commentary for her battling performance and has won the FAWC Player of the Week poll, and she has the potential to be our key player going forward. She’s been at the club for a few years and grown a lot in confidence since her first few games for us. I look forward to seeing how she develops more going forward.

After a difficult couple of years for the club, it was amazing to watch Jess Brown’s great finish for the goal on the hour mark. I think in the National League you get used to scoring loads of goals and winning games, so they weren’t really celebrated as much. You could see how much it meant to the girls, it was very reminiscent of Beth Mead’s opener on the opening day of the 2015 season.

It’s just brilliant to see a new generation of Sunderland talent stepping up when needed. I was so proud of Jess for taking the shot and getting the goal. She’s got a very bright future.

The only real pressure Claudia Moan faced in the Sunderland goal was during corners, and she did really well at commanding her area and clearing them into empty spaces as soon as they came in. The defence made her job easier. Grace McCatty, Megan Beer and Charlotte Potts all showed their experience well and Louise Griffiths really stepped up her game with a display worthy of Player of the Match.

I was pleasantly surprised to see how many Sunderland fans attended the game at the Butts Park Arena. It was nice to see new faces at the match too. The fans being there will always make a difference with that extra bit of encouragement and, after the game, the players came over to thank the fans for their support and take selfies and sign autographs and it personally meant a lot.

There always seems to be a special connection between the fans and the players at this club, it feels like one big Sunderland family.

So it’s important that as many people as possible get down to the Stadium of Light next Sunday for the Blackburn match. Sunderland lasses very rarely disappoint and the team loves playing at the SOL. In the past two games we’ve played there, Jess and Neve have both scored worldies, so I’m hoping for some really good goals!

Tickets for the game are available from, £5 for adults, £2.50 for U16s & Over 65s.

Roker Report will now be bringing you a weekly Lasses Podcast, broadcast on our main Twitter account through Twitter Spaces. All SAFC Ladies fans are welcome, and you can join Katie, Ant, and Graeme to review all the action from the Blackburn Rovers match.

The Pod will be going out live every Monday evening from 8 to 9 pm (BST). We can’t wait!


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