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Sheffield United v Sunderland - Barclays FA Women’s Championship

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Lasses Fan Focus: Blades fan John gives us the lowdown on SAFC Women’s opponents today

After both Sunderland and Sheffield United were knocked out of the FA Cup at the weekend, we spoke with Blades fan John Slingsby to see how he feels about the upcoming league fixture this weekend.

Photo by Barrington Coombs - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

Thanks for chatting with us John! It has been a while since these two sides met, with us playing each other back in the league on 3rd Sept and in the Conti Cup on the 11th October. How have Sheffield performed since then?

John Slingsby: It has been a while! We usually seem to be playing each other every other week it seems at times!

We’ve been in decent form, with some eye catching performances against Charlton and Spurs in our last two games alongside some less eye catching performances against Birmingham and Durham.

The aforementioned last two against Charlton and Tottenham have been encouraging performances however, so, hopefully, we shouldn’t be far off moving up the table soon!

RR: The blades certainly gave WSL side Tottenham a run for their money in the FA Cup last weekend. Unfortunately just losing out in the end. How did you view the game?

JS: We really took it to a Spurs team that have had a lot of money ploughed into them. The performance was superb and the amount of heart the team showed in being 20 minutes away from getting a result at a decent WSL outfit shows the potential that this team has. Hopefully, we’ll be seeing more of that in the second half of the season!

RR: Sheffield’s form and results recently have been interesting to say the least. The aforementioned 3-2 loss to Spurs in the FA Cup, a 2-2 draw with Charlton in the league, a 3-2 win over Rugby Borough in the FA Cup third round and a 3-1 win over Watford in the league. This team certainly seem prolific in front of goal, who or what is this down to?

JS: The name that instantly jumps off the page when talking about goals is our number 10 Izzy Goodwin. A sublime player who can do it all. Izzy has taken to being a Blade like a duck to water. 10 goals in 15 games (including a hat trick against Rugby) is a superb debut campaign in red and white. She can do more than just score though and is a constant menace up top and is superb at holding the ball and bringing others into play. She’ll be a WSL player sooner rather than later.

Also getting a hat trick in the Rugby game, although that being a hat trick of assists, is Bex Rayner. Now or longest serving player, Bex is a superb technical player. I liken her to Iliman Ndiaye when he played for United last season. She’s just got that innate ability to make a ball stick to her when it really should have been taken off her. She’s also capable of the spectacular, take a look at her goal against Charlton to see a proper banger of a goal.

Sheffield United v London City Lionesses - Barclays Women’s Championship - Bramall Lane Photo by Tim Markland/PA Images via Getty Images

RR: Whilst scoring plenty, there’s also been a few going in at the other end. Is this down to the style of play and tactics of United or more so to lapses in concentration/fatigue towards the end of games?

JS: I’d definitely say it may be due to tiredness. Believe or not, despite conceding 5 goals in our last two games and conceding so later, I feel like we have got better defensively as of late.

It just seems to be that we’re not able to kill off games that we are in a very good position to win (we’ve also led by two goals at some point in our last two games) I think once the tiredness is cut out, we should be able to start getting points to stick on the board.

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

JS: The aforementioned Goodwin and Rayner should cause problems. But am unsung hero of late for United has been Jodie Hutton. Joining from Bristol City in the summer, Jodie has been superb defensively at the back but has also added goals to her game as of late and all of them are superb.

Another very good technical player whose set piece delivery has caused chaos as of late for the opposition. She’s a dual threat that should cause problems.

RR: It’s always tough to give a score prediction, but how do you see this game panning out?

JS: I’d like to come away with points against a Sunderland team that looks like a well oiled machine from the outside looking in. I’ll go for a 1-1 draw!

RR: And lastly, what are your expectations for Sheffield for the remainder of this season?

JS: Just to start making those would be wins stick. And to start climbing the table on a more regular basis. Away from the pitch, I think it’d be nice if the club would be more open to change a culture that just seems to allow certain people to do and act how they please with little to no repercussions.

Tottenham Hotspur Women v Sheffield United Women - Adobe Women’s FA Cup Fourth Round Photo by Steve Bardens - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

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