Image: Luke James / The Boar
Image: Luke James / The Boar

Preview: Coventry United versus Durham FC

The second tier of English women’s football has reached the point of the season where ambitions and direction start to materialise. For an undefeated Durham side coming to Butts Park Arena, that ambition means challenging league-leaders Leicester City for the singular promotion spot to the Women’s Super League. For United, that means turning defeats into wins and solidifying a spot in the second division.

You would be forgiven for not being sold on Coventry United’s chances against Durham, the hosts have conceded the most goals-per-game in the Women’s Championship this year. The Butts Park Arena side have also lost four straight games, although the last of those four defeats showed the Red and Greens are far from condemned to relegation.

In her pre-match address, manager Jay Bradford said United’s loss to London City last week showed an attacking capacity that could have reversed the 2-0 scoreline on another day. Bradford’s emphasis will remain on the forward line, hoping that attacking talents like Beth Merrick and Shannon O’Brien will help the team come good in the final third.

With United’s next four games including London Bees and Charlton, Bradford’s side must make their mark over the festive period. United and the Bees are both on six points, with bottom side Charlton on five.

Lee Sanders’ promotion-hungry will provide a stern test this weekend. Durham attacker Nicki Gears has recently been named as a contender for the league’s Player of the Month for November.

Durham’s last game versus Blackburn was an interesting affair, much more so than the 0-0 scoreline suggests. Albeit a disappointing result, the scoreless draw served as yet another example of Durham’s defensive excellence – they have conceded just five goals in nine games, tied with Sheffield United.

The formbook would suggest another Durham victory is on the way, as Coventry’s 5-2 away loss indicated earlier this season. However, a chance has presented itself for Coventry United to get their first home win of the season and take a massive stride towards securing their safety. This will not come easy by any stretch; but for the red and greens, this matchup could be the catalyst for a season shift.

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