The Build Up
The Lasses travel to South Yorkshire for their final away game of the 2022/23 season this Sunday. Kick off is at 14:00 at Bramall Lane with just one league table position between their opponents, Sheffield United Women, and themselves.
A victory would grant Sunderland equal points with Sheffield going into the final game of the season against lowly Blackburn Rovers. Sheffield United however, would have an away game on the South coast at Southampton to contend with.
One last chance is afforded to Mel Reay’s team to push for a 9th place finish.
Last week’s drubbing at the hands of Bristol will have left few with the desire to recall the match. Some positives to draw out of it however are there for the braver fans willing to rewatch the highlights.
Firstly, a number of defensive errors last match came as a result of Sunderland’s higher press. For a good portion of the game, Sunderland held their own against Bristol and were able to disrupt play and dispense to forwards like Liz Ejupi to threaten up top. Although this strategy didn’t pay off against the league’s best defence, it may well suit against better-matched opposition in the form of Sheffield United.
Danielle Brown, pictured below, has impressed in the past few matches with her passing play and is a reliable midfielder. Grace Ede too did well coming on as a substitute into a challenging match, it would be positive to see her get more minutes this match.
Finally, at the end of the game Mel Reay had the entire squad gathered on the pitch in a circle for a few choice words. We don’t know what was said, but it may well have been a stern talking to with a reminder to see out the season strong. After all, this is Sunderland, if you want low level football you need to cross the Tyne for that sort of nonsense.
Sheffield United have, rather annoyingly, run into a recent run of good form. A convincing win of 4-0 at Coventry and a sterling 1-0 victory against Bristol are not to be ignored. Bristol have only lost 3 matches this season and it was Sheffield’s Courtney Sweetman-Kirk with the winner.
She is one to watch out for. A former top tier Liverpool player, she has the nous to sniff out a goal given a chance and Neve Herron would be best placed to keep an eye out for her. Claudia Moan too for that matter. Sweetman-Kirk is on 7 goals this season with 3 assists on top of that.
The Lasses have a point to prove after last week’s performance, and although Sheffield United are no pushovers, they’re a lot more vulnerable than Bristol City. With better communication between our defenders and a healthy sprinkling of luck, Sunderland could be well placed to pip our opposition’s place in the league come the end of the season. It could be like Manchester City’s exploits to beat Manchester United in the 2011/12 season of the Premier League. Only without a trophy, or Sergio Aguero.
Recent League Form
Sunderland: W D D L L
Sheffield United: L D L W W
Last Time Out
Sunderland 1 - 1 Sheffield United // Enderby 18’, Joice 69’