Graeme Field says...
I’m confident we can pick up a win against Lewes. The management team have had two weeks to work on their game plan, after the defeat to Blackburn Rovers. To be fair, we could have been celebrating a win in that game if it weren’t for a strong performance from their goalkeeper Shanell Salgado.
Why do I think we’ll get the win? What gives me hope? I’ve been happy with us defensively this season, so I think Lewes will find us difficult to create chances against. I also think manager Mel Reay will be expecting us to have more possession than we’ve had this season and will be planning our play, with this in mind.
She’ll also have something in mind on how to solve the problem of no Maria, or Keira, or Abbey. (See what I did there!)
As Durham signed Maria Farrugia in the summer, Keira Ramshaw is injured and Abbey Joice has not been in the squad at all recently, that work will have been done on improving the link-up play between our midfield and our lone striker Emily Scarr.
Could Joice be back, or will Reay look to someone else to fill that gap?
The home crowd will give the lasses a lift and the team will benefit from that extra boost. I expect a good size crowd who’ll be right behind them. Our four league points have all come away from home, and they’ll be looking to change that.
Rich Speight says...
Why do I think we’ll win today? The law of averages points in that direction.
The margins have been so fine this season - only in the Birmingham and London City games have our defeats been by more than a single goal - that I can’t help but feel that it is only a matter of time before both the run of the ball, the decisions of the officials, and the results start to go our way.
Our play has developed well over the course of the nine games we’ve played since August, and the record of one win and one draw isn’t true value for how the side has competed. Only in the game at the Stadium of Light have we looked like a side that should be languishing in second-last place in the table.
This belief is based upon more than just a hunch. I’ve been playing around with the stats tables, and in terms of expected goals scored, we’re actually ahead of sixth-placed Blackburn to whom we lost narrowly last time out, and we’re essentially level with Lewes who we play today, on just over one xG per game.
But we’ve only actually scored five goals all season, and despite Claudia Moan looking more confident and our defence appearing dominant at times, we’ve only kept one clean sheet so far. Lady luck, at times, simply hasn’t been with us.
Certainly, the standard of professionalism and preparation of the opposition, both on and off the pitch, has improved significantly this season, and this reduces the impact of our own advances.
But when I speak to opposition fans they’re all pretty much united in their view that eleventh place isn’t where we will end up this season and their belief that more points must surely arrive for us soon.
Charlotte Patterson says...
For me, it is the belief I have in the Lasses that they always give 100%. No matter the occasion or who the opponent is, we always see a strong and determined performance, with the girls showing fight.
It is easy to forget, at times, that Sunderland are one of four [Ed: ...ish] sides in the division who are still part-time. Each week and each game, we see Sunderland develop and improve, working on their weaknesses and taking the match to the opposition.
I have the utmost confidence in Mel Reay, Steph Libbey, and the rest of the coaching staff that they can get the most out of these girls and unlock their potential. They have just had a 14-day league break due to international action and I’m confident that the club will have utilised that time for additional recovery and training.
Last season we also struggled to find results, but, after the new year, we saw the Lasses put in some exemplary performances and get some much-needed results. This is Sunderland’s last home league game of 2022, so there is no better way to capitalise at home this weekend, than with an important three points in front of our own fans.