Rovers Ladies manager Gemma Donnelly is expecting a tough encounter when her side face Sunderland Ladies in the FA Women’s National League Cup Third Round this weekend.
The Blues are yet to meet Sunderland in the league yet and Sunday will be the first time the two sides have played each other in a competitive match.
Donnelly said: “I know both teams will be well drilled and ready for a tough test. We expect a hard encounter.”
The Blues are the holders of the League Cup, but Donnelly insists that this does not guarantee success this time around.
“This is a competition that we have done well in, although we are realistic in our expectations. We have achieved the fourth round for the past few seasons and so it’s not really an option to reduce those expectations this season.”
Rovers beat Fylde Ladies 3-2 in the previous round, thanks to goals from Saffron Jordan, Natasha Fenton and Jess Holbrook. The Blues come into this game off the back of a 4-0 victory over Wolves.
“We found Wolves difficult to break down, but after remaining incredibly patient, we took advantage of a lack of concentration and capitalised on this by taking the lead.
“There was a short spell of 10 minutes which meant that we went in at half-time 3-0 up. This then gave us the breathing space we needed to enjoy the game and assert our dominance over the opposition.”
Meanwhile, the Black Cats are in third position in the league table, six points behind Rovers having played a game more.
They lost 3-1 to Fylde Ladies in the SSE Women’s FA Cup last time out.
“Sunderland have found themselves in our league after playing in WSL 1 in 2017/18. They are readjusting to being outside the limelight and appear to be one of the stronger teams in this league.
“Mel (Copeland) has managed to retain several of her key full time players along with attracting very good quality youth players.”
As for Rovers, Saffron Jordan and Charlotte Stuart are both pushing for a starting berth. Stuart made her return from injury as a substitute last weekend, while Jordan was an unused substitute for that win at Wolves.
“Saffron will be eager to get back on the score sheet and hopefully we can give some additional useful minutes for Charlotte Stuart. Both of them are hungry to be in the starting 11.”
There’s free entry for the game at Accrington and Rossendale College.
You can also follow all the action on our official Twitter account, @RoversLadies.