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Charlton Athletic v Sunderland - Barclays FA Women’s Championship

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Lasses Match Preview: Conti Cup Nights at Eppleton against WSL Opposition, Aston Villa

Sunderland host Villa on a cold windy night in Hetton where victory would lead us on to the knockout stages

Photo by Henry Browne - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

The Lasses will face their second of three opponents in a week this Wednesday with Round 5 of the Conti Cup taking place at home, 7:30pm. With current storm winds, Isha gonna be a bit breezy at the ground but as the players proved this weekend against Sheffield United, gales and gusts don’t bother us.

After an undefeated group stage thus far, the Lasses sit second in Group A, with our opponents in first.

Now, the two options facing us as it stands is that we win and go automatically through to the quarter-finals OR, we dive into the second place rankings group.

Yes. This is where it gets weird. As of this moment and before any matches have been played, this is how the second place rankings group stands. This group is made up of teams that are second in their respective qualifying groups (A-E).

2nd Placed teams in the Conti Cup group stages as of 22/01/2024
Wikipedia

The top two teams in this group, after the group stages are automatically promoted into the quarter-finals alongside Chelsea who automatically qualify at this stage due to Champions League status, and the remaining group winners. Which will most likely be all WSL teams plus Palace.

Of course, this route would also require Manchester United to beat City in their match, also on Wednesday night same time. Or for both Sunderland and City to draw their games with other second placed group sides not picking up enough points to leapfrog.

In short, we could really do with at least a point against WSL side Aston Villa. Who just happen to have players like Daphne van Domselaar in goal, Scotland captain Rachel Corsie, Lionesses Rachel Daly and Jordan Nobbs, former Lasses player. Mind, Villa have conceded 19 goals this season with van Domselaar between the sticks and the last time Corsie was on Wearside she led a Scotland team into annihilation at the Stadium of Light against England.

Aston Villa v Brighton & Hove Albion - Barclays Women´s Super League
Rachel Daly for Aston Villa in the WSL
Photo by Morgan Harlow/Getty Images

Not to mention, Sunderland’s very own Emily Scarr is back and raring to go with two goals scored in our last match. And, we have our very own celebrity keeper with Claudia Moan, who makes wearing a knee brace look the height of fashion.

With significant squad rotation in our league match against Sheffield United and playing younger players such as Mary Corbyn and Libbi McInnes, we might expect to see a more experienced line-up for Villa. Emily Scarr though will probably be banging on the manager’s door after a stellar performance and Ellen Jones too. Bearing in mind we have Blackburn away on Saturday, I would expect us to set up highly defensively and still see Liz Ejupi as a deep lying forward.

The league will likely remain our priority and as this side knows how to defend well, just look back at our match against Reading, I think Wednesday will be a defensive display. Which is not to say it won’t be entertaining, but it’ll be a nervy game where the tight passes will be key to breaking down either end.

Following Wednesday’s cup match, the Lasses travel away to Blackburn for a league match on Saturday.

Ha’way the Lasses!

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