Manchester City Women face Sunderland AFC Ladies in their second away league game of the season.
City head into the game having won all of their previous league games to nil, and they’ll be looking to continue their fine run of form tonight.
Last season saw City run out as winners in all three games played against Sunderland; two 1-0 wins in the league and a 3-1 away win in the Continental Cup. City’s 1-0 away win came early on in the season, and considering the Blues’ failure to gel as a team up until that point, it was a decent result. Since then, City have settled, becoming much more fluid on the ball, and so should City be able to impose their style of play on Sunderland tonight, the result might turn into something a bit tastier than last season’s 1-0 affair.
Sunderland have improved since early last season too, and the meeting of the two teams should make for an interesting game. However, Sunderland haven’t been in the same form that saw them finish 4th last season, drawing both of their opening league games and suffering a heavy 7-0 defeat away at Arsenal in the FA Cup.
The game sees ex-City servant Krystle Johnston face her old club for the first time since making the switch to Sunderland at the end of last season. Johnston was integral to City Women’s first cup success, providing the cross for Izzy Christiansen’s headed winner in the Continental Cup final in 2014. Johnston is a dangerous player who can break down the wing with pace, and with City’s full-backs liking to bomb forward, the Blues will have to be alert to the threat she poses on the counter, especially with in-form goalscoring midfielder Brooke Chaplen lurking. One thing is for sure though, Johnston will received a warm reception from the Blues’ travelling fans, with them probably wishing that she was still in City colours.
With a home game against Doncaster Rovers Belles coming up in less than 3 days, City could do with resting a couple of players, but with the injury list still seemingly being as long as the list of fit players, changes to the side are unlikely. It’s not clear whether Toni Duggan is fit following missing out last week’s game at Birmingham after a minor injury, despite Cushing reassuring fans after the game that Toni would be back “no problem”. City struggled in tough conditions against Birmingham, and with similar conditions expected at The Hetton Centre, Duggan’s driven play would be a brilliant asset for City to be able to call upon. Concrete good news for City, however, is that Meg Campbell was back in training this week and was spotted kicking a ball at half time at Birmingham, which bodes well for the Blues having some much needed cover at the back very soon.
Ones to Watch:
Jane Ross. On fire for City at the moment, scoring late on against Birmingham to extend her run to 5 goals in 5 games. Ross came to City with a scoring rate averaging 1 in every 2 games, but she looks to be finding her rhythm and is surpassing that by some way at the moment. With tricky weather conditions expected, hopefully her tenacity and fight up-front will help City return to Manchester with all three points.
Brooke Chaplen. Matching Jane Ross’ goalscoring record, the midfielder has scored 5 times in 5 games for the Lady Black Cats. In addition to her being on a fine run of form, City must be alert to the danger she poses when linking up with last season’s league top-scorer, Beth Mead.
Expected City XI: Bardsley, Bronze, Houghton (C), McManus, Stokes, Beattie, Corboz, Scott, Asllani, Parris, Ross.
Prediction: Sunderland AFC Ladies 0 – 2 Manchester City Women
KO: 29th April 2016, 7:45pm, The Hetton Centre.
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Written by Jill Peacock