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Preview: Blues v Brighton & Hove Albion

Blues Women welcome Brighton & Hove Albion to the SportNation.bet Stadium (Damson Park) in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League this Sunday.

The 2pm kick-off is the first of 2021 for Carla Ward’s side and comes over a month since they were last in action due to a combination of postponements and the winter break.

On their last outing back in December, Blues were narrowly beaten by Leicester City in a rearranged Continental Cup fixture three days after they travelled to Arsenal in the league.

Similarly, opponents Brighton have not played competitively since 2020 when they lost at home to Reading in the weekend before Christmas.

The match pits together the division’s seventh and ninth-placed teams, with Blues ahead of the Seagulls by one point as well as holding a superior goal difference despite losing to Brighton 2-0 in September.

That clash was followed up by the second meeting of the month in a Vitality Women’s FA Cup quarter-final. Level at 2-2 after extra time, Blues held their nerve to win 4-2 on penalties and reach the last four of the competition.

Blues will also have new signings, Emily Murphy and Ruesha Littlejohn available for selection.

THE OPPOSITION:

Brighton go into the weekend’s matchup with Blues looking to complete a double over Carla Ward’s side. However, the win they picked up against Blues on the opening weekend combined with a point away to Manchester City seven days later accounts for half of their league total.

And it is fair to say that the Seagulls are going through a tricky patch, having failed to claim anything since their last victory in November over West Ham United.

Despite this, it would be naïve to underestimate the Sussex club. Guided by former England Women’s manager Hope Powell, they are enjoying their third campaign in the WSL having had their application for tier one status accepted ahead of the 2018/19 season.

In the last two terms, they have finished in ninth position, comfortably clear of relegation, and in February 2019 Powell was named manager of the month for the WSL by the League Manager’s Association.

Their current squad, as with so many in the division, boasts a range of talent from across the globe, with Albion’s current roster representing no fewer than nine different nationalities. Amongst others, Ward’s players will need to keep tabs on the visitor’s top scorer, Norwegian Inessa Kaagman, and Ireland international Megan Connolly – both of whom scored in September’s win for the Seagull’s win over Blues.

LAST TIME OUT:

Blues exited the FA Women’s Continental Tyres League Cup after a 6-5 penalty shootout defeat to Leicester City. It could have been a different story had Mollie Green not seen her penalty saved by Kirstie Level, but after more resistance from both backlines, the deadlock remained unbroken as the game went to penalties. It was then the unfortunate Connie Scofield who missed a decisive penalty before Leicester’s Aimee Everett won it for the Foxes.

Brighton lost for the second home game in succession as they tasted defeat against Reading in the WSL. In a 3-1 victory for the Royals, a first-half double from Jess Fishlock did most of the damage. Kaagman did pull one back for Albion, but Rachel Rowe restored Reading’s two-goal advantage late on to deny Powell’s side any hope of a comeback.

WE MEET AGAIN:

Blues 1 Brighton & Hove Albion 0, 19 September 2018

Blues Women made it back-to-back victories at the start of the 2018/19 WSL season.

In a tight game, the difference was Aoife Mannion's well-converted penalty after Emma Follis had been felled in the area by Laura Rafferty on the cusp of halftime.

There were opportunities after the break for Sarah Mayling and Hayley Ladd to double Blues’ lead, but Mannion’s first-half effort proved enough in the West Midlands.

WATCH LIVE:

The game will be streamed live on the FA Player, kick-off is at 2pm.

MATCH OFFICIALS:

Referee: Helen Conley

Assistant Referees: Callum Parke and Magdalena Golba

Fourth Official: Jacob Miles

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