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Lewes v Sunderland - Barclays Women’s Championship

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Lasses Analysis: Taking a closer look at Sunderland Women’s towering defender Amy Goddard

Since joining in the summer, Amy Goddard has cemented her place in the Sunderland backline and has become a key cog in Mel Reay’s playing style and tactics. We take a closer look at 6ft centre-back and what she adds to the team.

Photo by Steve Bardens - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

Amy Goddard is nothing short of brave, putting her body on the line, throwing herself in front of the ball and adjusting her body position at a quick rate as she reads the direction of play.

Her agility and nimbleness allows for her dominant in aerial duels despite measuring in at around 6ft in height.

She towers above opposition players, making sure she is first to the ball.

She is the definition of an old school defender. No nonsense type of player, who isn’t interested in the intricacies of dribbling or showboating, relying on her sheer physical strength and mentality.

Goddard is good at slowing down and nullifying an opponent with her presence, disrupting their attacking flow by applying pressure and closing them down, sometimes hard. It forces players to rethink their strategy, you can’t run at Goddard and you certainly can’t dribble past her either. Her ability to time tackles and get stuck in are second to none.

When Goddard has the ball, she shields it well. Not over-exerting herself or allowing an opportunity to be dispossessed. She keeps the ball close to her feet and is confident in her abilities, running with the ball with her head up as she scans the field for an opportunity to pass to a teammate or look to play in a long ball over the top.

Goddard is at her best when pressing up from the back, keeping a low centre of gravity and ensuring she keeps a side-on perspective, allowing her to get a full view of the pitch and easily pivot and/or turn should the opposition begin to counter, giving her time to react, by either coming forward to close them down or drop back.

Lewes v Sunderland - Barclays Women’s Championship Photo by Steve Bardens - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

Simply put, Goddard is a defender who loves to defend, it is her bread and butter, she regularly finds herself the last player back and is someone who is not afraid of getting stuck in. She plays with composed aggression, knowing when to press, when to tackle and when to close down.

Her stalwart nature and defensive prowess mean she is a calming and reassuring figure for the team to look towards. They don’t need to second guess any of her decisions and are confident in the way she composes herself. Never one to find herself out of position, she reads the game constantly.

In the footage I have reviewed from this season, I can regularly see Goddard scanning her surroundings, looking over her shoulder, looking for opportunities to make herself available to receive the pass and in some instances, she is not afraid to get forward and involved in a corner.

Her off-the-ball movement is exemplified in the clip below; short and direct bursts of pace, you could forgive an opposition player for not wanting to tackle her as surges towards them.

Sunderland v Watford - Barclays Women’s Championship Photo by Richard Callis/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

She is a defensive destroyer for the lasses with to her quick reflexes, vision, physicality, unwavering resolve, and ability to move quickly enough to go between and around opponents with her legs. A crucial component, a priceless asset, and unquestionably a trustworthy player on the pitch. It’s no wonder she had played every available minute until recently picking up a foot injury.

Since joining Sunderland under head coach Mel Reay, the playing style of the team requires that players push up the pitch and pressure the ball to win it back as quickly as possible, before transitioning into fast and direct attacks.

That proactive approach suits Goddard as the excellent front-foot defender that she is. Her first instinct is to press up and engage the immediate threat, she reads and reacts to developing situations quickly. Goddard is very good at stepping up to intercept passes, pressure the receiver's touch, or disrupt their next action.

Through physical duels, she overwhelms opponents by cutting in front of them to intercept passes, stifling their touch with one of her long legs, and towering over them to force headers. Her aggressive yet astonishingly clean front-foot defending is a result of her ability to control her anticipation and agility without being reckless, a vital talent that many centre-backs of her calibre, much alone her age, fail to master.

Similarly, it is difficult to get the better of Goddard in wider areas.

Her good change of pace gives her an instant advantage over most opponents, and she is very adept at positioning her large frame between woman and ball to either recover or protect possession - few can move her off it once in position. She also exudes a remarkable elegance and serenity. She is incredibly nimble for a player her stature, allowing her to manoeuvre and adapt in any direction.

All in all, Goddard is a front-foot defender who possesses plenty of valuable traits for a proactive team and has been a revelation at the back.

It is no wonder that she is held in high regard by fans and all at the club.


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