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London Bees v Brighton and Hove Albion Women - FA Women’s Continental League Cup

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Match Preview: Sunderland Ladies v Lewes takes centre stage in FA Women’s Championship today

The FA’s cameras will broadcast the game live this afternoon, but there’s nothing quite like getting down to support the Lasses at the SoL. So get down there this afternoon if you can, grab your ticket now!

Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

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Sunday 26th September 2021

Sunderland AFC Ladies vs Lewes FC Women

FA Women’s Championship

The Stadium of Light, Sunderland

Kick-Off: 14:00

Tickets & Match Coverage

Tickets: £5 for adults, £2.50 for Under 16s and Over 65s available here. Men’s Season Card holders get 50% discount on tickets. Eppleton Season Card holders can enter the Stadium of Light through Turnstile 8. Please note: this is an all-ticket event, tickets must be bought in advance, the ticket office will not be open and you are unable to pay with cash or card on the turnstiles.

Stream: Full live match coverage is available for free on the FA Player, with highlights and a full match replay available from Monday.

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

The build-up...

Crystal Palace Women v Sunderland Ladies - Barclays FA Women’s Championship
Louise Griffiths 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

Sunderland are top of the league after three games, still unbeaten and looking impressive with a settled starting line-up. On Friday afternoon the club announced the signing of 6 foot former Dutch Under 21 international forward, Iris Achterhof, who was recently released by local rivals Durham Wildcats.

She’s recently recovered from a long-term ACL injury, but has played and scored for Durham this season, and joins on a season-long non-contract basis. Following the announcement, Iris wrote on Twitter:

Happy to have signed with SAFC Ladies for the rest of the season. Can’t wait to get out there with the girls. The North East is not getting rid of me just yet! Thanks to S4S Agency for all the help. See ya Sunday.

Captain Keira Ramshaw made a return after injury against Crystal Palace, coming off the bench to rescue a point for the Lasses at Selhurst Park, and should be expected to return to the starting XI this afternoon. It’s early doors but, in this league, it’s clear that every game is going to be highly competitive and everyone is capable of putting a performance together.

Midfield dynamo Maria Farrugia has been away on international duty with Malta, scoring a screamer in their 2-2 World Cup Qualifying draw against Bosnia & Herzegovina on Tuesday night.

Sunderland boss Mel Reay spoke to the Sunderland AFC website this week to review the season so far, and was really positive about playing yet another home game in the city centre while the club works to get the Eppleton CW venue ready for the rest of the FA Women’s Championship campaign:

The Stadium of Light certainly isn’t a bad second ground to play at! We’re delighted to be back there again and hopefully we can get a decent crowd behind us – it made a real difference when we played Blackburn there.

Lewes are a good side – they’ve been in the league for a couple of years, so we’ll do our research and we’ve got plenty of time to plan for the game.

The club have told Roker Report that, from next week, the gaffer will be answering questions from the local press in a weekly pre-match zoom call, in another step forward in the coverage of Lasses and progress towards the promise of providing the women’s section of our club with equal access to all the off the field support available behind the scenes at Sunderland AFC.

Crystal Palace Women v Sunderland Ladies - Barclays FA Women’s Championship
Megan Beer 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

Our opponents today are a truly unique club in world football, the fan-owned Sussex club has become renowned for the fact provides both its women’s and men’s squads with equal paying budgets, equal marketing coverage, sponsorship deals are shared equally and ticket prices are the same for both of their senior squads’ games at their home, the Dripping Pan.

The women, who were established within the Rooks in 2002, are much higher up the pyramid than the men who, despite having been around since 1885, play in tier seven. The result of their relentless focus on equality is that crowds are relatively equal for both the men’s and the women’s home games.

The club’s new head of performance, former USWNT player Kelly Lindsey, spoke to The Guardian about her plans for club, echoing chairman Stuart Fuller who has previously spoken about his ambition being to take the women’s side of the club all the way up to the WSL and beyond to play in the UEFA Champions League.

We’re eager to do something that the world doesn’t believe is possible, to take this little club and become champions on the world stage and make sure we do it with all the right values.

So much that is holding back sport in general, but especially women’s sport, is just because we don’t view life equally. It’s so important that we can help transition the mentality, within the club and among the people we work with but also with every team that we play against and as we stretch out into England and across the world.

We can help people see that you can really perform at a high level, care, equally, and make professional decisions equally for men and women, because: why not? Why are men and women not considered equal on this planet? I will never understand. I think we can send a really powerful message to the world.

Lewes striker Ini-Abasi Umotong spoke to the FA Women’s Championship Highlights Show last week about their start to the season and gave her thoughts looking ahead to today’s game:

It’s a massive relief [to finally get three points], this pre-season has been so hard physically, and we knew we had talent and it’s really rewarding when all our hard work comes together. It was so important, especially because London City were a team that hadn’t lost any points yet this season, so we obviously wanted to break that because we want to be finishing right up there this season. It was a massive confidence boost knowing we can do that, so we’ll try and do the exact same thing against Sunderland.

They’re a truly forward-thinking and inclusive outfit, who have been good enough to put their captain Rhian Cleverly and Media Manager Hannah forward to speak to us here at Roker Report on our Lasses Podcast Live on Twitter Spaces. They’re a brilliant example of what is possible if women’s football is treated very seriously by clubs, and given the resources and prominence it serves.

They’re a very welcome addition to the teams Sunderland AFC have welcomed to our home at the Stadium of Light.

Bristol City Women v Lewes Women - FA Women’s Championship
Ini-Abasi Umotong of Lewes celebrates with team mates after scoring the opening goal of the game during the FA Women’s Championship match between Bristol City Women and Lewes Women at Robins High Performance Centre on September 05, 2021 in Bristol, England.
Photo by Ben Hoskins - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

League form...

Sunderland AFC Ladies - W - W - D

Seven points from three games and top of the pile, even the most optimistic of Lasses fans would have taken that at the start of the season. We’re the early pace-setters, so continuing this form will be important on the hallowed turf of the Stadium of Light this afternoon. Let’s hope there’s a good crowd to cheer them on.

Lewes FC Women - L - W

A win against London City Lionnesses was very welcome after a 2-1 loss at Bristol City in their opening game. They had their first fixture of the season against Charlton Athletic called off due to a covid outbreak at the South London club. They’ll be excited to be playing on such a big stage today.

One to watch...

Freda Ayisi

The skilful young playmaker joined Lewes in the summer from Arsenal, and her driving run was instrumental in the move for the goal that ended London City’s unbeaten run in Gameweek 3. Umotong, who was the beneficiary of her work and scored the goal, praised Ayisi in her interview with the Highlights show:

She’s every striker’s dream player to play with, she has the vision, the technical ability, she knows where I want the ball without even having to communicate with me, we just have that wavelength - she’s the perfect partner

Ayisi has real pedigree, having won the FA Cup with the Gunners - and has the skills to impress legends like Ian Wright.


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