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Southampton v Charlton: Barclays FA Women’s Championship

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Lasses Match Preview: Sunderland Women travel down to St Mary’s to take on newly promoted Southampton

Can the lasses grab three important points away to Southampton FC Women? We have all the latest in the match preview ahead of today’s game at St Mary’s Stadium

Photo by Alex Davidson - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

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30th October 2022

Southampton FC Women v Sunderland AFC Women

FA Women’s Championship

St Mary’s Stadium, Britannia Road, Southampton

Kick-Off: 12:00pm WATCH IT LIVE!!!


Tickets & Match Coverage

Tickets: Tickets cost £8 for adults and £2 for under 18’s. Tickets are still available on Southampton’s website

Travel: If you’re looking to make the trip from the Northeast, then your best bet is to join onto the A1 (M) from either the A19 or A690. Stay on the A1 (M) until you pass Doncaster and then join onto the M18 in order to get to the M1. At Northampton, join onto the A43 and take this until you can link onto the A34. Finally, you join onto the M3 and follow signs for A33 into Southampton.

Whilst you can travel by train, the journey takes roughly six to seven hours and requires at three or four changes, meaning it is probably more feasible to drive.

Coverage: The game is available to watch live and for free on the FA Player this weekend. Get in-game updates on the match from @SAFCWomen and @SaintsFCWomen. @RRLasses will be live tweeting our reflection on the match as it happens.

Highlights: The FA Player will have highlights and a full match replay from Monday afternoon.

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

This weekend sees the Lasses travel down to St Mary’s Stadium in what is their second furthest away game, but Sunderland’s season has not quite started in the way we would have liked. But progress is being made and, with each passing week, we see this team continue to make strides and grow in confidence.

The two sides meet up for the very first time in the league; Southampton FC Women have risen like a rocket from the seventh tier of the women’s football pyramid with five consecutive promotions and announcing a full-time model, the Saints show real grit and determination to become a real force.

It’s also worth noting that Southampton have an array activities planned for the day, which includes giveaways and a chance to see the Women's Euro 2022 trophy won by the Lionesses!


The Lasses

Sunderland head into this fixture on the back of a 2-0 home loss against potential promotion chasers, London City Lionesses. The Lasses have had a difficult start to the 22/23 season, with the fixtures seeing them play all fully professional clubs thus far and, whilst the team have put in some brilliant performances against some top opposition, the results have not come to fruition as yet.

Each week, we see the gameplay which gaffer Mel Reay and her staff look to implement, and we have seen younger players such as Katy Watson being given opportunities to showcase themselves, particularly with the absence of veterans Keira Ramshaw, Faye Mullen, and Abbey Joice for a variety of reasons.

Last week fan favourite and key player Neve Herron received lengthy treatment before being stretchered off in the latter stages of the game following a collision in the box. Since the game, it has been announced that Herron did in fact break her nose, but the coaching staff are quite hopeful that she will be fit for the game this weekend.

It is difficult to predict exactly how the Lasses will fare against Southampton, given that the two sides have never played against each other before and with the Saints being new to the league via promotion.

Whilst Southampton have started stronger, Sunderland are capable of being a nuisance and putting in some great performances in away games, as evidenced by the terrific 2-0 win against Crystal Palace a few weeks back.

We do have some favourable fixtures coming up, facing fellow part-timers Blackburn Rovers away next week, followed by a home game to eighth-placed Lewes, and then away to bottom side Coventry United, with a tough Continental Cup game against Manchester City wedged in between.

There is no better time than now for the Lasses to form and pick up a run of positive results and finish 2022 on a high note.


The Opponents

Season so far

At present Southampton are definitely exceeding expectations. Prior to the commencement of the 22/23 Championship season, most fans would have been happy just to see their side compete with others in the division and finish in a respectable position.

Yet here they are, currently occupying third place in the league on the back of three wins, two draws and one loss.

Sheffield United Women v Southampton F.C. Women - Barclays FA Women’s Championship Photo by Isabelle Field/Southampton FC via Getty Images

Playing style

Southampton mainly adopt either a 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1 formation (using them 33% and 32% of the time respectively)

They boast tremendous attacking attributes and tenacity, with a plethora of players getting on the scoresheet for the club last season. They scored 99 goals in 26 games, with 22-year-old Ella Pusey and 18-year-old Lucia Kendall getting 24 and 21 goals respectively.

The clips of Southampton that I have watched confirm that they like to play a passing game, with a great attacking impetus and urge for their wing-backs to get involved in the play. A lot of Southampton’s game is played on the wings, rather than through the middle, opting to utilise the width of the field to allow open play, long balls and threats from the wide areas.

Numerous goals that I watched came from the wings, usually in the form of a Southampton player taking the ball to the by-line before either cutting it back for an attacking player to run onto or to cross the ball into the box.

Southampton v Wolverhampton Wanderers: The FA Women’s National League Play-off Photo by Isabelle Field/Southampton FC via Getty Images

Southampton are relentless in their attack, opting to play with a high defensive line, asking their wingbacks to get involved and thy love to play through balls behind the defensive line, usually out towards the wing for a player to run onto and cut back or cross into the box.

They are also incredibly fast on the counter and transition, getting forward in numbers when attacking and offering various avenues for the ball to be taken forward and received.

The Saints can be guilty of playing the passing game too much and trying to be too cute at the back. Instead of trying to clear the danger with a lofted ball up the field, they can try to play it out from the back whilst under pressure, which has led to goals being directly scored from these errors.

Whilst they have only conceded six goals so far season, from the footage I watched, the majority of goals they conceded were from lapses in defensive judgement and mistakes, including being dispossessed just outside of their own box or having a poor pass cut out by an opposition player.

Fortunately for them, some brave goalkeeping from Kayla Rendell has bailed them out by being quick off her line to either close down the shot or dive onto the ball.

Southampton v Wolverhampton Wanderers: The FA Women’s National League Play-off Photo by Isabelle Field/Southampton FC via Getty Images

It would be well worth the Sunderland forwards using their pace to close the defenders down on the ball to try and force a mistake, particularly with Southampton playing with a high defensive line. Indeed, at times they are guilty of playing too high up and are vulnerable to getting caught out on a quick transition or counter.

From some of the clips I have observed, their defenders like to get forward and involved in the play, allowing for alternative options and avenues. However, this has led to large gaps opening up in between the backline which would be perfect for pacey players from Sunderland such as Emily Scarr, Nicki Gears and Katy Watson to exploit and run into.

In the National League they had no need to sit deep and could play patiently as they looked to build up the pitch but they will have to adapt and their tactics in the Championship.


Recent League Form

Sunderland: L-L-L-W-L

Southampton: D-W-D-W-W


Ones to watch

It is hard to ignore just how prolific and efficient 22-year-old Ella Pusey and 18-year-old Lucia Kendall were for Southampton last season; the two young guns paved the way for The Saints to win the title with their goal-scoring contributions, but it didn’t just stop there.

Not only were they clinical in front of goal, but the two of them were tenacious, energetic, determined and heavily involved in all aspects of the pitch, providing an option for teammates and dropping deep when required. They linked up well with the likes of Sophia Pharoah who had 12 goals last season, forming part of a spectacular attacking trio.

These three have had great starts to life in the Championship, with Kendall scoring the only goal in a 1-0 away against Birmingham and Pusey scoring the winning goal for the Saints away at Sheffield last weekend.


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