Rich Speight predicts... a season-defining win
It’s been a funny old week in the world of Sunderland AFC Ladies, but I think there’s a heightened sense of togetherness and resolve radiating from the camp which I think will carry through into a high-level performance.
We saw it at the beginning of the season; the preparation work paid off and we came out of the blocks all guns blazing. A sustained period of training will have given the coaching staff and players time to really work on their game plan, and that gives me confidence.
I hope that we can find a way to allow Neve Herron to play in the middle alongside Emma Kelly and that Grace Ede is given enough minutes to show her undoubted quality. I’ve looked at the stats in detail and London City score in almost every game, but we are better away than we are at home and a well-drilled Sunderland is capable of keeping most Championship teams at bay.
A victory here will be a statement to the rest of the division - showing that even after losing one of our top performers we can still get results, and I think the will to win is what’s going to be the difference between the two sides.
So I’m calling this as a 2-1 win for Sunderland, coming back from behind in the second half, with Ede coming off the bench to change the game and Sunderland sealing the victory with a late winner from Captain Keys.
Charlotte Patterson predicts... a tough afternoon for the Lasses
This week's game sees the first football action that the lasses see in 2022 and in over a month. With last week's home game against Crystal Palace being postponed due to weather, the lasses have had more time to prepare for this fixture, regain fitness and look at tactics. At the time of writing, there have been no changes within the Sunderland roster, other than Iris Achterof announcing her retirement from football. Undoubtedly a talented player, it hasn’t quite worked with the Red and White Stripes, which maybe comes with a return from an ACL injury.
It would’ve been great to see the addition of some new signings during the winter break, particularly in attack, as this is absolutely an area that is lacking at the moment. Until Sunderland can make some smart and fruitful attacking acquisitions, we are primarily relying on the good defensive line which we have at the back. The likes of Grace McNatty and Neve Herron have been integral pieces to Sunderland and will hopefully link up well to attack from the back and create opportunities.
The last time the lasses played against London City Lionesses it ended up in a 2-0 win to the visitors. Sunderland will have to be wary of the likes of forward Rianna Jarrett who has four goals so far this season. The Lionesses are currently sitting 3rd in the league, losing only three games so far this season and have a goal difference of +3; not bad for a side, which was only founded in 2019 as an independent break away club from Millwall.
A point away would be a great result for Sunderland. But, unfortunately, I think the Lionesses have enough about them to see off a win at home. The lasses have some very tough fixtures coming up in the next few weeks with games against the likes of Liverpool, Charlton, and Lewes. It’ll be interesting to see how Mel Reay rotates the squad and what tactics she employs for these games. Unfortunately, I’ll have to say London City Lionesses 2 - 1 Sunderland.
Graeme Field predicts... a score draw in Dartford
It’s been nearly five weeks since the lasses were last in competitive action and they’ll be raring to go in this one. The game will likely come too early for the injured full back Faye Mullen based on the comments in the Sunderland Echo this week from manager Mel Reay.
I like many others was impressed with London City Lionesses in the reverse fixture at the Hetton Centre earlier in the season. The lionesses are a professional outfit and they will hope that gives them the edge over Sunderland, as they too haven’t played for coming up to five weeks.
Sunderland have been dealt a blow with centre half Charlotte Potts moving to play her league football in Switzerland. She will be a massive miss after her excellent performances to date. The manager will be looking for a replacement for Potts and possibly a forward too, in order to give help to her young and talented squad.
I’m still confident that we can have a strong second half to this campaign. The Lasses won’t mind being underdogs, it’s when they’re at their most dangerous. It's a long trip for them and I don’t think they’ll be coming back empty-handed. I’m going for a 2-2 draw with goals from Kelly and Brown. Haway the lasses.
Ant Waterson predicts... a hard-fought draw
Sunderland make the long travel to London to play their first game of 2022 after last weeks game at home to Palace was called off.
In the reverse fixture, London ran out 2 0 winners but Sunderland were in the game for long periods. We just conceded goals at the wrong times, one early on and one late on the day.
I was very impressed by London and they will be favourites to win but I’m sure the lasses will be wanting to get a taste of revenge.
Team-wise, we are pretty much the same as was planned for last week. No players have come in at this time of writing so I’m expecting Mel to play the side minus Potts. This would probably mean Grace Ede drops to the bench but I’m sure her chance will come during the season. It would be nice to see Jess Brown back in the line-up, if she is fully fit.
Result wise, I’m going for a 1-1 draw. I just think we will get something on Sunday. I’ll go for Ramshaw to score to put the icing on her birthday week. It’s live on the FA player for all those wanting to watch. Enjoy the game. Haway the lasses.