With the 2021/2022 FA Women’s Championship season over and Sunderland having secured another year in the second tier of women’s football, it’s time to stop and reflect.
Want to learn more about your favourite footballer or fun facts about some of the lasses biggest stars? Then look no further....
This summer, Roker Report is profiling some of the SAFC Women players by asking them some interesting questions, delving into their stats, and sharing our thoughts on them as both players and as people.
Where were you born? Gateshead, England
Former teams you’ve played for? I’ve played for my both my primary and secondary school, Leam Rangers, Felling Magpies, Newcastle Foundation, Sunderland District, Durham County and for Sunderland RTC the last seven seasons until I was called up into the senior squad last year.
Favourite food? My favourite food has to be pasta! I love all types, but Carbonara is my definitely my go to. You can’t beat it!
Favourite music genre/artist/band? The music I listen to really depends on my mood really. I wouldn’t necessarily say I have a favourite kind of genre or musician. I love all kinds of music.
Who inspired or inspires you? I would have to say that I was inspired by Lucy Bronze and I still am to this day. She’s an incredibly talented footballer and she started off her career at Sunderland too, so she’s an inspiration to most girls from this area.
Do you have any superstitions or pre-match rituals? I wouldn’t say I have any superstitions really. I don’t think much about what I do before each match, I just turn up and play, leaving my all out on the pitch.
Any other hobbies? I don’t really have any other hobbies other than football related ones if I’m honest. I like to focus solely on my game and football is a huge passion of mine. However, I also enjoy activities such as running and going to the gym.
What would you sing on the team bus karaoke? I would probably sing Sweet Caroline as everyone knows it, knows the words and joins in to sing. It’s a staple song in football.
Who is your favourite women’s footballer past or present? Like I mentioned before, Lucy Bronze is my favourite player and someone I look up to. She sets the precedent for most aspiring footballers.
If you weren’t playing football, what do you think you would do or want to do? It’s something I’ve never really thought about to be honest. Football has always been a big passion of mine and I’ve played my whole life, being a professional footballer has always been my dream and my goal.
With only a few appearances to her name this season - all coming as a substitute - it has been difficult to note a trajectory or change in performance over the games she played.
However, what I can say categorically is that even in the small cameos that Watson appeared in, she did in fact stand out as player to watch and someone who does not shirk in her duties.
Watson is highly agile, changing direction and speed with ease, allowing her to make the most of confined places. She understands how to bring her body over the ball and how to modify angles subtly so that she can burst onto the inside or outside of her opponent at any time.
Watson has adapted to being part of a more set, rehearsed, disciplined defensive unit while playing for Sunderland’s senior team, which likes to keep possession and take a conservative strategy at times (depending on the opposition).
She has mostly been used as a right winger or centre forward in a 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-1-1 formation, and playing on the right means she’ll have to work more to stay defensively compact, as well as put in more effort to thwart opposing plays.
Watson is much more than a winger/forward. She’s not afraid to go deep or move into the half-spaces. Due to her physique and persistence she is more comfortable occupying opponents and involving teammates in the game than simply waiting for the ball to come to her.
Her deft mobility isn’t limited to the penalty area, as she can switch between pinning opponents by threatening to attack the goal and peeling away from the defensive line to combine with teammates on the wings.
You’ll have a hard time missing Watson throughout a game; she’ll be the one that never stops moving and is always looking to press and close down opposing players. She is quick, nimble, and direct, and she has a penchant for getting into the scoring zone.
Watson appears a fairly direct passer who will look for quick combinations and to play teammates in if possible, but only if the situation allows it. Her passing is dangerous in transition or when a defence has been unsettled and her short passing is beautiful to watch.
Her ability to combine is reflected in how well she weights her first-time passes from any position on the field. As she has extended her use of the outside of her boot and utilising her weaker foot, those combinations have grown more multi-directional.
Super motivated today!— Charlotte Patterson (@kirbyhazard) June 3, 2022
Two football articles done and now onto the next one. We're going to be looking at our young Sunderland star Katy Watson.
Despite not featuring too much when she joined in January, she certainly made her presence felt on the pitch
️ Wyscout pic.twitter.com/wvyXw638JI
Watson’s defensive game has improved dramatically, but it hasn’t come at the expense of her core attacking abilities. While her attacking output has decreased, much of this can be ascribed to her changed roles, the step up in quality, and limited playing time. The fundamentals that made her such a hot prospect at Sunderland RTC, however, remain.
Her ability to go one-on-one with opponents and beat them remains an important aspect of her attacking game. This is especially effective for an attacking player who frequently runs at disorganised defences in transition, and when combined with good off-ball movement from teammates, it’s a recipe for counter-attacking success.
Watson can offer a spark even in situations where her team has retained the ball and maintained control by taking one or two opposing players out of the game with her exceptional technique.
She also has a wonderful capacity to discover pockets of space in hostile environments. Watson frequently drifts into central areas from a wide right position, while an attacking full back holds the space on the flank.
This ability to find space, combined with her proclivity for looking for and executing crisp one-two passes, makes her a fantastic attacking playmaker whenever she enters the final third.
She is at ease receiving in space, where her initial touch is always positive and directed toward the opposing goal, or when under pressure. Watson’s frame helps her to receive the ball and take defender contact; she also has a low centre of gravity, allowing her to spin away and attack space behind her marker. Watson is a dangerous player because of her agility and suppleness.
Whilst raw, there is a great deal of potential for Watson at this club and can only continue to improve as she gets more opportunities with the senior side and acclimatise to professional football.
2021-22 Season Stats (Averages)
- 8 Appearances
- 8 Substitute Appearances
- 205 Minutes Played
- 39.07 Total Actions
- 1 Goal
- 7.9 Passes
- 61.1% Passing Accuracy
- 15.37 Duels
- 1.76 Aerial Duels
- 1.76 Dribbles
- 1.76 Interceptions
- 1.32 Recoveries
- 0.88 Crosses
Ed’s Note [Rich]: Katy Watson is an exceptionally exciting talent. Even though she’s yet to make a senior start, it’s clear that she’s a natural forward who has a nascent skillset that’s ripe for development. At only 16, the next couple of years at Sunderland AFC will be important for her; she will need patience when it comes to getting starts for the first team and utilising the opportunities across the club - including the Under 23 squad - to learn her trade, but the club also needs to match the ambitions of youngsters like Watson. Their inspirations are superstar professionals like Lucy Bronze - their expectations are to be able to forge a professional career in the game.