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London Bees v Brighton and Hove Albion Women - FA Women’s Continental League Cup

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Lasses Match Preview: Sunderland host Crystal Palace at Eppleton CW at noon

Sunderland Ladies play their rescheduled game with Crystal Palace this lunchtime, and we have all of the information you need ahead of the game.

Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Sunday 27th February 2022

Sunderland AFC Ladies v Crystal Palance Women FC

FA Women’s Championship

Eppleton CW Ground, Hetton-le-Hole, Sunderland

Kick-Off: 12:00


Tickets & Match Coverage

Tickets: Tickets are £5 for adults and £2.50 for Under 16s and Over 65s. Under 14s get in for free today. Sunderland men’s season ticket holders can also get a 1⁄2 price ticket for this match. Book online now or pay on the gate with a card.

Travel: Take the number 55 bus from Sunderland Interchange (Stand K) to Houghton Road-Caroline Street, Hetton.

Coverage: Updates on Twitter via @SAFCLadies and we’ll be sharing photos, videos and comments on the game throughout via the @RokerReport account

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

Podcast: All things being well, we will have the Lasses Podcast Live as usual on Monday night, 8.30-9.30 pm. Our Graeme appeared with our friends on The Eagle Eye View twitter space earlier this week to preview this game.


The Build-Up

After a two week hiatus due to a break for international football, the lasses return to action this Sunday in the rescheduled game against Crystal Palace. The fixture was originally meant to be played on the 9th January, but was postponed due to the pitch being frozen.

Since then, both teams have played 5 games, with Sunderland collecting 1 point and Palace collecting 6.

The last time these two sides played each other in the league was back in September 2021, in which both sides shared the point after two second half goals from Palace’s Mille Farrow and Sunderland’s Keira Ramshaw.

Sunderland v Sheffield United: FA Women’s Championship Photo by Will Matthews/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Lasses

In recent weeks, Sunderland have been performing much better. Despite results not showing that. Gaffer, Mel Reay said in her post-match interview against Liverpool that there have been “Huge positives.

Three good performances in a row, but unfortunately, you don’t get points for playing well”. We all know first hand the level of determination both Mel and the team display, even when things aren’t going their way, they never stop trying. Sunderland will have the likes of key and experience player Grace McNatty returning to the side, following her three match suspension.

Sunderland also announced the signing of defender Abby Towers from Middlesbrough on Wednesday. She’s now in her second spell with the club and returns to bolster our back-line, which could free up Neve Herron to play in midfield.

The two week break has hopefully been a welcome reprieve and time to reflect and make plans going forward. The Lasses should hopefully be bolstered by the returns of Neve Herron and Maria Farrugia who have been away on international duty, as well as Emma Kelly who has been out of action for the last few games


The Opponents

The Eagles currently sit 6th in the league, with 7 wins, 3 draws and 5 losses in 15 games. While they boast the third highest total in terms of goals scored, they actually have the worst defensive record in the league, surpassing that of 11th and 12th placed Watford and Coventry United. With 32 goals conceded. It is clear to see where the strengths and weaknesses lie in this Palace side. They have also deployed numerous variations of formations throughout the season, from 4-3-3, 3-4-2-1, 3-5-1-1 and 4-2-3-1, with the latter being the most primary used. Statistically 32% of the time.

In terms of playing style, Palace generally like to keep possession and play a passing game, averaging around 344 passes per game, with a success rate of 70.8%. From the highlights I saw, Palace like to play down the wings and look to catch the opposition out with through balls in between the backline or balls over the top and into space for forwards to run onto.

Crystal Palace Women v Sunderland Ladies - Barclays FA Women’s Championship
Millie Farrow of Crystal Palace celebrates after scoring their team’s first goal with her team mates during the Barclays FA Women’s Championship match between Crystal Palace and Sunderland at Selhurst Park on September 12, 2021 in London, England.
Photo by Jacques Feeney/Getty Images

The likes of current club top scorer Millie Farrow have some fantastic pace to take the ball past a player and drive forwards onto goal, with 5 under her belt for the season thus far. Undoubtedly, Palace’s counterattack will be a huge danger for the lasses and one which they must deal with, given Palace’s tenacity, speed and ferocity in the attack.

The Lasses will have to either time the offside trap well or potentially look at playing a deeper backline to countermeasure this usual tactic. The danger players Sunderland will need to watch for are: Millie Farrow, Kirsty Barton, Bianca Baptiste and Siobhan Wilson.

A lot of Palace defensive frailties seem to stem from a lack of communication in the backline and being taken out of the game with some good one-touch passing, luring the defender forwards, but meaning they leave a gap in behind. They also fail to close down the opposition quick enough, with numerous clips showing how opponents can go on long unchallenged runs, having the time and space to shoot from outside the box.

Watford Ladies v Crystal Palace Ladies - Barclays FA Women’s Championship
Bianca Baptiste of Crystal Palace shoots during the Barclays FA Women’s Championship match between Watford FC and Crystal Palace FC at Vicarage Road on October 31, 2021 in Watford, England.
Photo by Marc Atkins - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

Expectation

I feel like this is a game which can go any way. Both are in a bad run of form in terms of results not going their way and both will be looking to turn around. Crystal Palace will undoubtedly be the favourites, but Sunderland may well be able to cause an upset. Goals and an entertaining end-to-end match, seem most likely.


Head to Head

(All venues, all competitions, including friendlies)

Played 1

Sunderland Wins: 0

Draws: 1

Crystal Palace Wins: 0

Sunderland Goals: 1

Crystal Palace Goals: 1


Recent League Form

Sunderland: DLLDL

Crystal Palace: DWLWL


One to watch

Without a shadow of a doubt, Millie Farrow will be Sunderland’s biggest threat. With 5 goals to her name, so far this season. Whilst not someone who take a shot on from outside the box or even takes many during the game. Farrow has this innate ability to get herself into great positions to receive the ball. She reads the game and play well, knowing when to time her runs and looking to move into an unoccupied or unchallenged space.

Millie Farrow’s heat map this season
Data from Wyscout

Farrow isn’t your typical forward. She likes to drop deep to receive the ball and be part of the build up in an attack, linking up with her teammates and even moving over towards the left wing to create alternative routes and opportunities. If the lasses are to keep Farrow out of the game, then they need mark tightly and keep a close eye on when she peels off to make a run. Preventing or limiting through balls to her will be key.

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