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Lasses Fan Focus: We speak to Birmingham fans Craig & Steve ahead of the big game!

Ahead of tomorrow’s double header fixture, we spoke to Brum fans Craig Hadley and Steve Wright - what can Sunderland Women expect when they take on recently-relegated Birmingham?

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How would you rate Birmingham’s performance over the off-season and opening game against Lewes?

Craig Hadley: Blues finished pre-season unbeaten with a win over WSL side Reading in particular a very promising result. The summer is all about fitness so a few draws against Women’s National League sides didn’t concern me. But I would say we are yet to hit our best yet with new players still being integrated into the squad.

Steve Wright: Birmingham’s pre-season has been superb. They didn’t keep a clean sheet; but neither did they lose a match. It’s been a good series against a variety of teams. It’s given the new players time to settle in; and has helped the whole squad to gel. However, the grit of the pre-season didn’t carry through to the first league game against Lewes. Except for the first ten, and last few, minutes, the remainder was a tough watch. A dominant Lewes were unlucky not to score. In her debut game, ‘keeper Lucy Thomas was outstanding.

Durham Women v Coventry United - FA Women’s Championship Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

What do you make of your transfer business in this window?

CH: With limited means, Blues have done a great job with recruitment. Four new signings and four loan signings. Siobhan Wilson from Crystal Palace already looks like a livewire down the left and Martha Harris has a renewed passion for the game after becoming a bit-part player at Manchester United. New keeper Lucy Thomas also looks to be another smart pick up, having kept a lot of clean sheets in the WC last season. In terms of departure, losing Veatriki Sarri is a big blow but she’ll do well at Brighton.

SW: I’m going to begin by saying how great it is to see Jo Potter back at Birmingham. I really got into Women’s Football during the 2015 World Cup. When I learned that Jo, Karen Carney and Jade Moore played for Birmingham I found the team that I’ve followed ever since; largely as a Season Ticket holder. As far as losses/transfers are concerned, like other supporters I was shocked at some of the leavers. That said, Darren Carter has built a solid squad around the remaining Old Guard.

Birmingham City v Lewes: Barclays FA Women’s Championship Photo by Naomi Baker - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

Do you suspect anyone will have a break-out season or will you likely be relying on key players?

CH: Libby Smith was a tireless runner for Blues last season, but has found her scoring boots in preseason with five in four matches. I could see her finally hitting her potential this season.

SW: I’m going to begin by saying how great it is to see Jo Potter back at Birmingham. I really got into Women’s Football during the 2015 World Cup. When I learned that Jo, Karen Carney and Jade Moore played for Birmingham I found the team that I’ve followed ever since; largely as a Season Ticket holder. As far as losses/transfers are concerned, like other supporters I was shocked at some of the leavers. That said, Darren Carter has built a solid squad around the remaining Old Guard.

Manchester City Women v Birmingham City Women - Barclays FA Women’s Super League Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images

Who would you say could be a thorn in the side for Sunderland? Who do we need to look out for?

CH: Christie Murray. Her eye for a pass is something to behold. If she’s given license to pick her head up she’ll split any side apart.

SW: Wilson and Harris; Ash Hodson and Libby Smith, if she can channel her 5-goal pre-season self, will link up well with the other two.

Aston Villa Women v Birmingham City Women - Barclays FA Women’s Super League Photo by Eddie Keogh/Getty Images

It’s always tough to give a score prediction early in the season, but how do you see this game panning out?

CH: I think it’ll be a tight affair and I will say 1-0 Birmingham.

SW: Blues will know, without being told by their coaches, that they have to take the game to Sunderland. They know that they have to be more crisp in passing and tackling. If they can put the opening game behind them, and channel their pre-season form, I think Sunderland will feel the pressure. If they hesitate, Sunderland will keep them pinned.

And lastly, what are your expectations for Birmingham this season? Should the expectation be to get promoted or at least challenge in the top 3?

CH: I fully expect Blues to be in the title race this season, despite a lacklustre start to the campaign at home to Lewes. Anything less than top three would be a failure and I think with the squad we have we have as good chance as any to be promoted this season.

SW: Understandably, Blues want to be back in the WSL; but there are eleven other teams who want to be in the top tier. They have to respect their current league, whilst adding the edge they have from the WSL. Their final position will depend on how well they can do this.


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