Sunday 30th January 2022
Birmingham City Women v Sunderland AFC Ladies
Vitality Women’s FA Cup
St Andrew’s Stadium, Birmingham
Tickets & Match Coverage
Tickets: Away tickets are £8 for adults, £6 for Over 65s, £3 for 13-18-year-olds, and £1 for Under 13s (Sections PFC and PFW are for away fans). Book tickets here.
Travel: If you’re reading this, you’ve already missed the only train that will get you from Durham station to Birmingham New Street in time for the game. Information on getting to the ground by car - and you’ll have to leave right away to make it from the North East - is available on the BCFC website.
Coverage: Unlike in the men’s FA Cup, there will be only one game that gets coverage in the Women’s FA Cup this weekend.
Fans unable to make it to the game will have to refresh their Twitter feeds to get updates from the game from @SAFCLadies, and here at @RokerReport we will be commenting and posting images and videos from the game throughout.
Highlights: All the action will be on the FA Player from Monday, including highlights and a full match replay.
Podcast: The Roker Report Lasses Podcast Live will be broadcast live again on Monday 8.30-9.30pm on Twitter Spaces - and it’s now recorded too. Listen in live and join the discussion, or listen back afterwards. Last Monday’s edition is still available.
The men’s pathetic performance at Bolton yesterday means that Sunderland supporters’ hopes of salvaging something from the weekend - even if it’s just a bit of pride in seeing a team battle for 90 minutes and give their all for the shirt - falls on the women’s team.
Mentioning the club’s two senior sides in the same breath might get up the noses all the right people, but for those of us who do care, following both the Lads and the Lasses offers a second chance at glory most weekends and the FA Cup is extra special.
Despite their patchy form of late, Sunderland AFC Ladies remain a bright light this season. No big-name signings with vast experience have come in during the transfer window, no loans of top young talent from the top tier; they remain a talented bunch of mainly local footballers who work or study alongside their training with Mel Reay - and today they’re looking to cause a massive upset against a WSL side.
Emma Kelly will be hopeful of recovering from the knock that saw her leave the pitch early last weekend in time to face her former club, who are themselves managed by former Sunderland loanee Darren Carter.
The signing of pacy hot-shot forward Katy Watson from the Regional Talent Club is an exciting development; there’ve been whispers around Eppleton CW about her exceptional speed and finishing ability for a little while and she may be thrown straight into the side for this one as goals are what we’re lacking right now - especially given that Emily Scarr is struggling with an injury.
Watson has an impressive 27 goals in 12 appearances for the youth side, and has worked with Reay at Gateshead college for a while, so the gaffer knows exactly what she can expect and wouldn’t have brought her into the senior set-up at this stage if she didn’t expect that she could make an impact.
✍️ #SAFCLadies are delighted to complete the signing of RTC forward Katy Watson!— Sunderland AFC Ladies (@SAFCLadies) January 28, 2022
Reay spoke to Phil Smith from the Sunderland Echo again this week, and as well as explaining that we’re still in the market for north-east based players who aren’t contracted to their current clubs, gave her view on the game at St Andrew’s today:
Sunday is another challenge for us, a good test. They are at the bottom of the WSL and we’re at the lower end of the Championship, we’re the underdogs going into the game but we’ve seen before that anything can happen on the day. It’s business as usual for us, we’ll hopefully be hard to play against.
We’ve come together this week as a collective, we’ve had two bad results but it’s only three weeks ago that we beat Liverpool in the Conti Cup. It’s part of the journey and it’s a really, really young team. We’ve stressed about not getting too low with the lows and not certainly not getting carried away with the highs. It’s about long-term targets, and keeping working hard toward that. That’s all I can ask of them.
Birmingham City might have pulled off a shock 2-0 win against the mighty Arsenal a couple of weeks back, but it was back down to Earth in their last two games with a 5-0 defeat to Manchester United before throwing away a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 against Reading last week.
They are still favourites to be relegated and haven’t joined in the frenzy of WSL activity during the transfer window. After a turbulent time following the departure of their previous manager and many of their star players to their city rivals Aston Villa in the summer, they will be hoping that they don’t fall foul to the plucky underdogs from the north east as so often happens to struggling top-flight sides when faced with a cup tie.
Carter spoke with Sky Sports recently about the challenge of managing his beloved Birmingham City even as they fight for their place in the WSL:
The players deserve to be at this level. You just remind them of their qualities. I have been there. That is how you build momentum.I have seen a change of mindset. Players are starting to enjoy it again. That is big for me. In any industry, if you are not enjoying it, if it becomes a grind, you aren’t going to get the best out of people. It is about creating that environment and putting smiles on faces.
According to the club’s match preview, the Blues will be without Marie Hourihan and Cecilie Sandvej, as well as two players with long-term injuries in Arabella Suttie and Lily Simkin.
This is only the 51st year of the women’s version of the Football Association Challenge Cup competition, largely due to the ban imposed by men on women taking part in football on FA licensed grounds that was in place between 1921 and 1971.
The players from both teams will have trained all week ahead of this 90 minute game of association football between two clubs with long and proud histories in the game, but the game is deemed by the FA to be 45 times less valuable than a match at the same stage in the men’s FA Cup.
The winners will take home £2,000, the losers will hardly cover their costs and take home a meager £500. Even so, both sides will certainly give 100% effort for their shirts and their fans.
If they progress through the rounds and lift the FA Cup at Wembley in May, the triumphant side will earn their place in the history books and take home £5,000 less than the losers of the men’s non-league FA Trophy final.
Under pressure from fans, media, and not least senior managers like Hope Powell, Mark Skinner, and Emma Hayes, the FA announced that they will increase the prize money significantly from next season. But there’s no indication that this will mean the prize money will reach anything near that on offer to the men’s competition.
League Form... (Last 5 league games home and away)
Sunderland AFC Ladies - LDLLL
Birmingham City FC Women - DLWLL
Head to head...
(All venues, all competitions)
Played - 8
Sunderland Wins - 2
Birmingham Wins - 4
Draws - 2
Sunderland Goals - 8
Birmingham Goals - 12
Full head to head stats can be viewed on Footystats.org
Last time out...
Sunderland Ladies 0-1 Birmingham City Women
Eppleton CW, 16 February 2020
One to watch... Jade Pennock
29-year-old creative midfielder Jade Pennock has been one of the Blues’ most impressive performers so far this term. Yet another graduate of the US collegiate soccer scene, Yorkshire lass Pennock first made an impact in 2018 after moving from Doncaster Belles to Sheffield United. She scored 23 goals in 50 appearances for the Blades and is the all-time leading assist-maker in the FA Women’s Championship, a record that earned her a pro contract in the WSL with Birmingham last summer. Sunderland’s big challenge today will be preventing Pennock from getting into dangerous areas.