Ant Waterson predicts... a high-scoring Eppleton classic!
Sunderland entertain Coventry today, and the fact the game is even taking place is a great achievement for the midland side as they fight to stay up this season. Coventry almost went bust and have received a 10 point deduction, but they are fighting their hearts out to try and stay up. Led by Katie Wilkinson, they will prove another stern test for Mel Reay's side.
However, when Sunderland play football on the floor, they are a match for anyone in this league and I’m sure the players will be looking to make three league wins in a row.
I’m expecting Mel to shuffle the pack slightly. Grace McCatty and Neve Herron are a yellow card away from a suspension and thus missing the derby game vs Durham, so it would make sense to rest the duo. Grace Boyes has been very patient this season and I can see her getting a chance alongside fellow RTC graduate Abbey Towers.
Keira Ramshaw is fit again and can slot straight into midfield to replace Herron. Emily Scarr is back at training which is brilliant news for her after a horrible head injury last week, but I think Sunday may come too soon for her.
Katy Watson came on to score last week so could get her first start for the club. Grace Ede and Jess Brown could also be in contention to replace Scarr.
I’m expecting this game to be an absolute classic. Coventry will come out more than Watford did last week but I feel Sunderland will just have enough to win.
I’m going for a classic 3 - win for the lasses with Farrugia, Watson, and Abbey Joice to score.
Charlotte Patterson predicts... Sunderland to make it three in a row!
The lasses head into this fixture on the back of two consecutive wins and appear confident, as they look to finish out the season on a high. However, Coventry have relegation in the line and have to ensure that they win their remaining fixtures and hope other results go their way if they have any hope of avoiding the drop.
Coventry’s efforts recently have been nothing short of inspiring and incredible despite the situation they find themselves in. They are undefeated in their last 4 games and will be heading into this fixture with relentless fight and hope.
Katie Wilkinson is the side's top scorer with 5 goals and they are bolstered by players who get forward in numbers when countering. Particularly that of Olivia Ferguson, who has the speed and pace to beat a defender if given a decent through ball in behind. Coventry also have goalkeeper Lucy Thomas who is in fine form at the moment and has pulled off some spectacular saves to keep her side in it.
Sunderland on the other hand, have nothing to play for. The lasses are mathematically safe and have achieved their goal of surviving their first season back in the championship. It could well be a period of time that gaffer Mel Reay and her staff use to give minutes to the younger and less experienced players in the squad.
But, in all honesty, I can see the team wanting to finish on a good note, with positivity and confidence heading into next season. Therefore, Reay will most likely be playing the strongest 11 and bench she has. Captain Keira Ramshaw could be back for the lasses after being out with COVID-19, naturally, it depends on what last effects it may have had on her condition and fitness.
We could also see the likes of Grace Ede rejoin the squad after being away on international duty with England U17s, starting in the 8-0 demolition of Croatia this week. It is unlikely that Emily Scarr will be back in the squad following her head injury last weekend; whilst appearing fine, concussion protocols are notoriously strict which will mean she has to sit this game out.
The lasses have looked really cohesive recently, with all players putting in fine displays in all positions on the pitch. The confidence and mood from the two consecutive wins, as well as the home advantage, gives me the impression that Sunderland will just edge this. I do think it’ll be a tight game and be one which will be at 1-1 for a large majority of the game, but perhaps the lasses can get the winning goal on a counter in the final moments of the match. Sunderland 2 - 1 Coventry United
Graeme Field predicts... a narrow victory for the Lasses!
I’m glad this game is going ahead at all this weekend, after everything that happened at Coventry earlier this season. It looked at one point as though they wouldn’t have a club three or four months ago, and no football fan wanted that.
Sunderland Ladies come into the game after another good performance against a Watford side that was below them in the Championship table. We coped well with being favourites in that game, and will look to do it again against Coventry.
I believe Coventry are a better side than Watford and the lasses will again need to be sharp with their passing and be spot on with their pressing if we want to take all three points. It’s great for manager Mel Reay and First Team Coach Steph Libbey to have the option to give more minutes to some of the players who’ve been on the bench recently.
Emily Scarr will likely miss the game due to head injury protocol, but the manager has a number of options that can replace her. I think captain Keira Ramshaw will start, but only if she is fully fit after having Covid-19.
Also, Reay will look to bring the younger squad members off the bench in the second half, but will likely be mindful of the integrity of the league, and may not be too experimental as Coventry are still in a relegation battle with Watford. I’m going for another 2-1 win for Sunderland. Joice and Farrugia with the goals.
Rich Speight predicts... Coventry United will grab a point!
Quite simply, I believe that Coventry United are a better side than Watford. Without the points deduction imposed following their slip into administration over Christmas, they’d be four points above last week’s vanquished opponents. They’re unbeaten in four games, having taken eight points from the last 12 available, and have a realistic chance of pulling off one of the greatest escapes in the history of modern football.
Yes, we’re probably a good bit ahead of them in terms of talent and the development of our style of play, but they have every motivation to come up here and do a job on us this afternoon. A point for the red & greens will be a great result and, assuming Watford don’t pull off a surprise win at home to Durham, they will still have every chance of catching the Golden Girls on in their final day showdown.
We saw against Arsenal in the FA Cup that they can defend against a ball playing side - albeit they eventually capitulated, players like N’Dow at the back will be a new kind of challenge for Sunderland’s forwards who’ve profited well in the last few games. Their talismanic striker Katie Wilkinson is big a step up in terms of quality from some of the attackers that young Abby Towers has dominated since claiming her spot in the Lasses back four.
Even so, I think our excellent form and increase in chance creation means we’ll still score a couple, and a 2-2 draw is my prediction with Farrugia and Kelly - who both impressed last week - on the scoresheet for Sunderland.