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Bristol City Women v Sunderland Ladies - Barclays FA Women’s Championship

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Lasses Match Preview: Crystal Palace Women v Sunderland Women at Bromley FC this lunchtime

The Lasses head to the capital for the first time this season to face promotion-chasing Crystal Palace. We’ve all the details for SAFC fans travelling to the game in our comprehensive match preview.

Photo by Ryan Hiscott - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

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Sunday 16th October 2022

Crystal Palance Women vs Sunderland AFC Women

Barclay’s Women’s Championship

Bromley FC, Hayes Lane, Bromley, BR2 9E

Kick-Off: 12:00pm

Tickets & Match Coverage

Tickets: Adults £10, Over 65s £5, U16s free when booked in advance. Book tickets here.

Travel: Train services to Bromley South station run regularly from London Victoria and London Blackfriars, and from Dover Priory, Gillingham, and Sevenoaks in the other direction. Bromley South is 15 minutes walk from the ground.

Programme: The Crystal Palace programme for this match is available to view online below.

Stream: Full match replay and highlights will be available on the FA Player here from Monday

Twitter: Get in-game updates on the match from @SAFCWomen and @CPFC_W

Podcast: Roker Report’s Lasses Podcast Live will be broadcast on Twitter Spaces early this next week. Just go to @RRLasses to listen in.

The build-up...

Sunderland’s squad was rocked by the news this week that defender Faye Mullen is out for the season, falling victim to the dreaded ACL. Other than her and fellow long-term ACL absentees Emily Hutchinson and Abby Towers, Mel Reay has a full contingent of players to choose from.

There’s been a steady improvement in the Lasses’ performances across the five games they’ve played in the first six weeks of the season, but their form certainly hasn’t been helped by the stop-start nature of the Barclay’s Women’s Championship fixture list.

None of our squad were called up for international duty over the last couple of weeks, but Grace McCatty has been away at her twin brother’s wedding in the USA. We will need her fully rested and recharged today as the back line is sure to be severely tested by the attack-minded Eagles.

Bristol City Women v Sunderland Ladies - Barclays FA Women’s Championship Photo by Ryan Hiscott - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

Head Coach Mel Reay, in her preview of the match on, was keenly aware of the challenge posed by Palace but let it be known that she’s got a plan in place to ensure that we’re competitive this afternoon:

Palace are a bit of a reformed team – they’ve gone full-time, recruited a lot of new players and started well. We went to Selhurst Park to play them last year and got a point.

We’re not fearful of anyone, but it’s important to be wary of their strengths and we’ll devise a gameplan to go and get something from the game.

But we’re moving forward too. We’ve got Jono [Johnathan Craig] on board as goalkeeping coach, and we’re delighted to have him in post with the experience he has. He’s a real added asset, and an indication we’re moving forward as a side.

Sunderland still struggle to create opportunities against good sides, we’re back down at 0.85 xG away from home in our difficult start to the season, and we are conceding over a goal a game. But if we look away from the stats and at the performances and quality of our play, the steady improvements are undoubtedly there to see.

Reay was sent off in February when we last met so, hopefully, she has less cause for frustration and more for celebration this time around. That might mean changing things up a little bit, as the combinations haven’t quite been clicking yet this season.

Our hosts had several players away on international duty this week, with Anna Filby and Elise Hughes part of the Welsh squad that narrowly missed out on World Cup Qualification and Chloe Arthur being called up for Scotland as they too failed in their bid to get through the convoluted European playoff system. They also had young ‘keeper Natalia Negri and midfielder Shauna Guyatt called up to the Lionesses U19 squad too.

Wales Womens Training Session
Elise Hughes of Crystal Palace and Wales
Photo by Athena Pictures/Getty Images

Palace manager Dean Davenport described the Conti Cup loss to Bristol City, where he made nine changes to the starting eleven, as disappointing. In his programme notes he tells fans:

I hope you will all enjoy today’s game, which will be a hard-fought contest, but one the players will be ready for and wanting to build on the successful start we’ve had to the league.

Despite improvements in their defence, Palace remain an open, attacking side. This season their xG is 2 at home and they score at the same rate, but their xGA is over 1.5 and they concede at 1.3, so they are vulnerable at the back.

So the scene is set for a great game. It’s going to be a big test for both sides and a tactical as well as a physical battle - with a defence-minded Sunderland coming up against the potency of the likes of Hughes and Molly Sharp, as well as Annabel Blanchard, who we profile below.

Crystal Palace Women v Southampton F.C. Women - Barclays FA Women’s Championship Photo by Henry Browne - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

League form...

Sunderland AFC Women (11th) - D-L-L-L

Are we desperate for a win? It’s getting that way. We’re one decent Coventry United result away from being rock bottom of the Championship table and I don’t think anyone was expecting us to be in a relegation battle this season. It’s only been four games, but results really have to pick up soon.

Crystal Palace (2nd) - W-W-L-W

Despite losing 4-0 in the Conti Cup to title rivals Bristol City, their league form has been pretty impressive. The 1-0 home win over London City Lionesses on the opening day in particular set the tone for what they hope will be a glorious season, but the 1-2 loss at home to Southampton will give encouragement to our Lasses today.

Last time out...

Sunderland 0-1 Crystal Palace

27 Feb 2022, Eppleton CW

Sharpe ‘60

One to Watch... Annabel Blanchard

The 21-year-old forward is already at her fourth club, having started out at her native Liverpool (although she’s an Evertonian). When they dropped down a level, she moved to Leicester and stayed in the WSL, but then stepped down herself to join Blackburn last season.

Her transfer to Palace in the summer was a statement of intent by the club, they’ve set about creating a full-time squad with young WSL quality players. Blanchard has the kind of quality in the final third that can win games.

Crystal Palace v Coventry United: Barclays FA Women’s Championship Photo by Tony Marshall - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

She might not have ever been prolific, having mainly played in struggling sides, but she’s got a great scoring record in the England age group setups and has bags of talent. She’ll be a danger in a side that loves to go forward.

Earlier this year she spoke to the South London Press about how excited she is at the opportunity at Hayes Lane:

I spoke to Dean [Davenport, manager] briefly about what it was that he wanted from me and the vision of the club, and everything seemed to align – I have visions myself of playing at the top level.

I want to be playing at the highest level possible. The men are in the Premier League, and Palace are a big club – they deserve to be playing in the top tier of women’s football as well.

I would love to be playing there with Palace, so that’s the goal. I have never had this level of coaching and detail before. I have improved little aspects already. If you put that together with everything, and the ability of the squad, then it’s scary to see what we could be able to do.

Sunderland’s defence will certainly have to keep a close eye on her this lunchtime if they’re to come away with a win.


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