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Southampton v Charlton: Barclays FA Women’s Championship

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Lasses Match Preview: Sunderland take on Birmingham Women at the SoL in a double header!

Double Header! Sunderland Women face Birmingham Women in their home opener of the 22/23 Barclays Women’s Championship season at the Stadium of Light in what is a fantastic occasion - here’s everything you need to know

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

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Saturday 27th August 2022

Sunderland Women v Birmingham Women

FA Women’s Championship - 4pm kick off

Stadium of Light, Monkwearmouth, Sunderland, SR5 1SU

Tickets & match coverage

Tickets: Tickets are still available, with all Norwich tickets including FREE access to Sunderland Women’s game against Birmingham.

Fans wishing to attend the Lasses’ fixture only can also secure their seat, with tickets priced at £7 for adults, £3.50 for concessions and £1 for under-16s.

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.

The build-up...

The home opener...

A game at the Stadium of Light...

A game which features as part of a double header...

There is plenty of excitement and pride from Sunderland Women and Sunderland Women’s fans heading into the fixture, in what should hopefully be an incredible spectacle and one which sees both teams come away with three points each.

Whilst the Lads have had a fairly tumultuous 24 hours with off-field news and changes right before the game, the Lasses head into this with fervour and confidence of getting their first win of the season.

Sunderland Men will get the day underway at 1pm as they take on eighth-placed Norwich City and after a quick turnaround, the Lasses will kick their match off against Birmingham City at 4pm to what will hopefully a large and loud crowd.

The Lasses

Sunderland Women head into this fixture looking to add to the spirited performance we saw in the River Wear Derby against Durham last Sunday.

Whilst missing key players in the form of captain Keira Ramshaw and talented midfielder Neve Herron through injury, gaffer Mel Reay showed the faith and trust she has in the squad and it’s depth.

There were a few times last season were the Lasses were short on numbers when it came to players on the bench, but that is something which has been rectified by management over the summer in adding five new signings across varying positions in Tyler Dodds, Nicki Gears, Brianna Westrup, Abby Holmes and Danielle Brown.

Those who were in attendance at Maiden Castle last weekend would have seen all of the aforementioned five start in the opening match against Durham and give us a true illustration of their abilities and skill.

Sunderland’s equalising goal in the 1-1 draw was scored by Brianna Westrup and assisted by Tyler Dodds from the corner, both on their debuts.

Another debutant and ex Durham player, Abby Holmes won the season’s first Barclays Women’s Championship player of the week.

Whereas Danielle Brown and Nicki Gears, both gave a good account of themselves in the game and left fans excited for more given their empathic displays in both defence and attack respectively.

We also saw exactly why club management have so much belief in our younger players, giving 16-year-old forward Katy Watson and 16-year-old winger Grace Ede a fair amount of minutes in the game, none looking out of place. Particularly with latter standing her ground against a physical and tough opposition and playing in some stunning balls to her teammates on the attack.

The Opposition

Birmingham see themselves in the Women’s Championship for the 22/23 season following relegation from the Women’s Super League last year. Darren Carter oversaw the remainder of the campaign - following Scott Booth’s dismissal - and did put on some excellent performances at the conclusion of the season, especially with wins over Arsenal and Aston Villa. This is noteworthy given that the Blues had the lowest budget in the division.

Birmingham played 22 games in the year, winning 3, drawing 2, and losing 17 times while only scoring 15 goals and giving up 51. As a result, the Blues had a goal differential of -36 and ended last in the standings, two points behind Leicester City. Whilst we may have been beaten in extra time in the fourth round of the FA Cup against Birmingham, the then WSL team did not intimidate us.

Last season the Blues mainly adopted a 5-4-1 formation, using it for 22% of their matches. However, they have trialled almost every other possible formation at some point in the season.

Birmingham generally like to play a passing game, averaging around 231.64 passes per game, with a success rate of 64.6%. They also average 76.41 recoveries per game and 36.83% possession. They register an average 6.73 shots per game, with a 32.4% shot accuracy,

Birmingham enjoys playing a passing game, according to the videos I’ve viewed of them. They are content to move forward slowly and develop the play from the back and middle of the field. They wait for openings to arise by using their passes to entice rival players away from their positions.

Birmingham’s weaknesses include a propensity for playing too high up or getting caught up the pitch. As a result, when they are dispossessed, it offers the ideal opportunity to play in a through ball, which is ideal for the pace and accurate passing of Nicki Gears or Emily Scarr as well as Graced Ede or Emma Kelly.

The Blues may be guilty of attempting to be too nice at the back and overusing the passing game. Under pressure, they can attempt to play the ball out from the back rather than clearing the threat with a lofted ball up the field, which has resulted in goals being scored as a direct result of these mistakes.

They keep the ball in their possession for too long, which invites challenges and eliminates any opportunity for a counterattack or charge up the field. They have a hard time keeping their shape and can engage in excessive ball watching.

However it is important to acknowledge that since the end of last season, Birmingham have had both plenty of players come in and go out of the club this summer. The Blues have signed the likes of Martha Harris, Siobhan Wilson, Lucy Thomas on a permanent basis, whilst securing Tara Bourne, Ashley Hodson, Fran Stenson and Charlie Delvin on loan for this season from their respective WSL clubs.

They drew 0-0 in their opening home game against Lewes FC last weekend, in a game which lacked real cutting edge from both sides. Arguably a tale of two halves, it was Lewes who had the better of the chances in the first half, testing new signing and goalkeeper Lucy Thomas on several occasions, however the previous Coventry United shot stopper was equal to it. Birmingham also had chances of their own, but failed to capitalise, seeing their shots go straight at the keeper or wide of the post.

Head to head...

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

Played: 9

Sunderland wins: 2

Birmingham wins: 5

Draws: 2

Sunderland goals: 9

Birmingham goals: 14

Last time out...

Birmingham 2 - 1 Sunderland (AET)

FA Cup

St Andrews, 30th January 2022

Sarri 27’

Ramshaw 86’

Whipp 100’

Birmingham Women score the winner against Sunderland Ladies in extra time at St Andrews
Laura Burton

One to watch...

Whilst it may be hard to see positive in the Birmingham defence after the 54 goals conceded and relegation, there was the performance of 19-year-old centre-back, Gemma Lawley which should give Blues fans lots of hope for next year.

Lawley played in 19 of 22 games in the WSL, averaging 45.7 total actions per game, 13.97 duels, 5.81 interceptions and a 72.7% passing accuracy. It is unsurprising that Lawley was rewarded for her accomplishments when she picked up Players’ Player of the Season and also Young Player of the Season.


Pause for thought


Sunderland are set for a massive summer after the inevitable sacking of Michael Beale!

Fan Letters: “The distraction of Beale is behind us”

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