How would you rate Birmingham’s performances recently? Since Sunderland drew with yourselves at St Andrews, the Blues have gone on to win five from five league games and are now up into fifth in the league and two points off top spot.
Craig Hadley: I think it was a case of fitting all the pieces together. The club brought in a lot of players and that takes time to adjust to. I think the manager is finally understanding the right combinations to get the results needed.
Ellie Yates: Very good and very promising. Everything has seemed to gel and we’ve been unstoppable! So, thank you for that draw, haha! To be honest I think everything has just come together. We beat Southampton in the game previous, who were top of the table going into that game, and then drew with Sunderland so I think it just gave the players some confidence and more belief in themselves after a bad run of luck. We have an excellent group of players who are willing to work hard and are very talented.
It may be hard to pinpoint, but what do you think Birmingham’s recent good form is down to?
CH: Lucy Quinn has really stepped up in recent months. I think the fact she’s doing it for Ireland on a regular basis too means her confidence is at an all-time high. Playing with a freedom and a maturity that we knew she had all along.
I’ve noticed that Birmingham have been scoring more goals recently. Is there a reason behind that? A striker hitting form, a player returning from injury or just all round attacking contributions from the whole team?
EY: Goals seem to be coming from all over the place really! Defenders, midfielders, attackers. When we beat Watford 5-2 we had five different goal scorers so I would say it’s a contribution from the whole team. We’ve scored some very nicely worked goals showing a team effort.
Sunderland fans will once again see a very familiar face in Neve Herron playing for the Blues. How has she done since joining Birmingham? It was an interesting battle between her and our winger Mary McAteer last time out.
CH: She took a knock last month which might mean she won’t play at the weekend. But she’s been a great signing. She’s starting to create a great connection with Gemma Lawley and I could see it being a long-term partnership for years to come.
EY: Neve has been outstanding! Neve is a player that you know is just going to get there to make a block, tackle or even just put an attacker off and she’s been a fantastic addition to The Blues.
Who would you say could be a thorn in the side for Sunderland? Who do we need to look out for who has hit good form recently?
CH: Ivana Fuso is starting to find her confidence again and has a dynamic attacking style that can unlock even the tightest defence.
EY: Gemma Lawley will be difficult to get past. She’s a solid defender, comfortable on the ball and can pick out a pass to get an attack going. She’s just won Player of the Month, and rightly so! Lucy Quinn has been on good form with her attacking threat and set pieces. Charlie Devlin has been dazzling defences with her footwork too and scoring goals.
It’s always tough to give a score, but how do you see this game panning out?
CH: Last time out I expected a close game and it was a draw. I don’t expect anything different given Sunderland’s defensive capabilities. Another draw is on the cards.
EY: I think it will be tight. Sunderland are a very hard team to break down but we’re on a good run of form at the moment and I think the momentum will continue. I think it will be 2-1 to Birmingham.
And lastly, what are your hopes for Birmingham for the remainder of this season?
CH: That top spot is looking very appealing. If Blues continue the momentum they showed this past month then I think it’s possible too.
EY: Promotion! We were so close last season and our unbeaten run came just a little bit too late, unfortunately. But we’re having the same run now and there’s plenty of time for that to continue.