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Southampton v Charlton: Barclays FA Women’s Championship

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Lasses Match Preview: Sunderland take on Durham Women at Maiden Castle!

Eyes on revenge? The Lasses will look to right the wrongs of last year on the opening day of the 2022/2023 Championship campaign with a win over local rivals, Durham.

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

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Sunday 21st August 2022

Durham Women v Sunderland Women

FA Women’s Championship - 12:30pm kick off

Maiden Castle, Stockton Road, Durham. DH1 3SE

Tickets & match coverage

Tickets: This game is now sold out!

Travel: If you are coming through the centre of Durham, head towards Shincliffe via Stockton Road (A177) and you’ll find Maiden Castle on the left-hand side. If you’re travelling by bus, you can get the X20 from Sunderland Interchange to Durham Bus Station, then get either the 56 or X12 to Maiden Castle from the station.

Parking: Parking is available at Maiden Castle as you enter the site, and a volunteer will signpost you on where to go. This is marked as Car Park 1 on the map below.

For high-capacity fixtures, fans may have to use an alternative car park which is roughly a fifteen-minute walk away from Maiden Castle. This is marked as Car Park 2 on the map below

Away supporters: It is an unsegregated crowd, but we will congregate at the far end of the pitch, where the SAFC flags from Eppleton will be there for you to wave.

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

Coverage: BBC Radio Newcastle will be providing live commentary on the game. Updates will be provided on Twitter via @SAFCWomen, and we will be sharing photos, videos and comments on the game via our Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok accounts.

Podcast: All things being well, we will have the ‘Lasses Live’ Twitter Space as usual on Monday night between 8.30-9.30pm and a new episode of the ‘Roker Report-The Lasses’ podcast will arrive later in the week.

The build-up...

After 112 days, the 2022-2023 Barclays Championship finally gets underway, and what a game we have in store to kick the season off.

July and August have been immensely positive for women’s football, after the outstanding achievement by England’s Lionesses at the 2022 Women’s Euros.

Bolstered by that triumph, we have seen more people begin to take an interest in women’s football, with season ticket sales increasing, Barclays becoming the main sponsor of the league, and numerous teams transitioning from part-time to full-time status.

Whilst Sunderland have not yet made the switch, the same cannot be said for their neighbours down the A690 as they took the decision to become a full-time outfit.

Last season saw Durham come away with the bragging rights, with the Wildcats winning two games out of two against the Lasses; first with a 2-0 away victory at Eppleton in October 2021, and a 3-0 home win in front of a sold-out crowd at Maiden Castle in April 2022.

Both teams have strengthened and added depth over the summer, and will be targeting improved league positions in 2022/2023.

Yet again, we will see a capacity crowd at Maiden Castle today as the two sides battle it out not only for pride, but for the first three points of the season.

The Lasses

Sunderland head into this fixture on the back of a fantastic pre-season.

They won four friendlies out of four during the summer, scoring thirteen goals and conceding just two in matches against Motherwell, Hibernian, Newcastle and Nottingham Forest, respectively.

During this time, we saw some incredible performances from our new signings, with Tyler Dodds, Nicki Gears, Danielle Brown and Abby Holmes all making an impact. All four players got onto the scoresheet across the three friendlies, with Gears notching two goals, and Holmes, Dodds and Brown bagging one each.

The newest addition, Brianna Westrup, also started in the final game against Nottingham Forest and looked calm, composed and assured in a strong defensive partnership with the experienced Grace McCatty.

It would be remiss of us, however, to overlook some emphatic displays by our young players, particularly Grace Ede, Katy Watson and Libbi McInnes.

There is a mood of positivity, excitement and optimism amongst Sunderland fans, and although we haven’t made the jump to professional status or brought in ‘big name signings’, there is a feeling of cohesion, passion, and determination from both the players and staff.

The opposition

Durham have been very busy during the summer, signing several players, retaining key players, and also going full-time.

With that in mind, it will be interesting to see how our neighbours fare in what will be a very competitive league. There is always an expectation from both the club and fans alike that they should be competitive and in the promotion mix.

The Wildcats routinely start quite well, but they often struggle to maintain their consistency and to keep up with the rest of the pack. Last season, Durham were in first place for four consecutive weeks before their form began to dip.

2021/2022 saw Durham finish sixth, earning 34 points with ten wins, four draws and eight losses. The Wildcats won six of their opening seven games, but slowly began to slide down the table and only enjoyed sporadic wins for the remainder of the campaign.

Heading into the new season, it is hard to assess how Durham will fare, given the fact that all of their friendlies were played behind closed doors.

With four signings arriving in the shape of forward Jess Clarke, defender Georgia Robert, goalkeeper Tatiana Saunders and ex-Sunderland player Maria Farrugia, it is difficult to gauge just how well they will perform, and whether they have acclimatised to their new surroundings, teammates and tactics.

One issue that manager Lee Sanders will face is deciding who his forward, or forwards should be, with no less than seven players to choose from.

Whilst there have been incomings, there have also been departures too.

Danielle Brown, Nicky Gears and Abby Holmes have all made the switch to Sunderland, whilst defender Kathryn Hill left to join Rangers WFC for an undisclosed fee.

Given the numerous changes at the club, it will certainly be an interesting affair on Sunday!

Head to head...

(All venues, WSL2/Championship + Continental Tyres Cup since 2014)

Played: 7

Sunderland wins: 4

Durham wins: 2

Draws: 1 (Sunderland win on penalties)

Sunderland goals: 11

Durham goals: 8

Last time out...

Durham 3 - 0 Sunderland

Maiden Castle, 24th April 2022

Lambert 3’

Bradley 51’

Hepple 53’

Played for both... Maria Farrugia

It’s safe to say that when you watch a ‘River Wear derby’, you are likely to see players who have played for both teams, and one of the newer faces at Durham happens to be former Sunderland forward, Maria Farrugia.

She left Wearside this summer after rejecting the offer of a new contract, and given the news of Durham going full-time a few weeks ago, the move would have made sense, however it was still something of a surprise.

On her day, Farrugia can be an incredibly influential player, with finesse, pace, and technical skills all part of her repertoire. None of us will forget her wonderful chipped goal against Sheffield United any time soon.

Sunderland Ladies v Liverpool Women- FA Women’s Continental Tyres League Cup Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images


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