Sunderland skipper fired up for big derby clash
Sunderland Ladies captain Lucy Staniforth is expecting a real battle when they take on local rivals Durham Women tonight.
Durham have home advantage in the opening fixture of the FA WSL Continental Tyres Cup at New Ferens Park (7.30pm).
And they will be looking to gain their first positive result against the Lady Black Cats, having lost all four of their previous competitive meetings.
The clubs last met, also in the Contintental Cup, in 2015 with Sunderland edging it 2-1 thanks to a late strike from Vicki Greenwell, who is now assistant to coach Melanie Reay.
This season, both sides sit third in their respective divisions - Sunderland in the WSL1 and Durham in WSL2 - after two wins and one defeat in the fledgling league campaigns.
“I’m expecting it to be a really hard game because it’s a local derby and I know Durham will not want to lose to us,” said Staniforth.
“We played them in pre-season (Sunderland won 1-0). They’re a good team and caused us a few problems so it’s definitely not a game we’ll be taking lightly.
“For their players, they look at us and want to try and show they’re worthy of WSL1 and look at this game as a chance to prove that.”
Sunderland’s away form has been good this season, winning 1-0 at both Reading and Yeovil thanks to goals from Simona Koren and Keira Ramshaw.
The home game was not so clever - losing 6-0 to Chelsea - although they put in another great effort before running out of steam and conceding several late goals.
Sunderland have six points from their three games, three behind Manchester City and Chelsea, who boast 100 per cent records.
Durham started their campaign with a 2-1 win over Tottenham, followed by a narrow 3-2 loss at Brighton.
Sunday brought a 4-0 win at Watford to sit just one point behind top two Millwall and Oxford United in WSL2. Their most dangerous player is midfielder Beth Hepple, who has scored four goals in their three games.