WSL1: Sunderland start FA Women's Super League season at Reading

Lucy Staniforth: New Sunderland Ladies skipper
Lucy Staniforth: New Sunderland Ladies skipper

Sunderland Ladies will launch their FA Women’s Super League programme at Reading.

The Lady Black Cats will visit Adams Park on Sunday, September 24.

Melanie Reay's team face Spring Series champions, Chelsea, in their first home game the following weekend, taking on the Blues at the Hetton Centre on Saturday, SEptember 30.

The 2017-18 season marks the controversial return to winter football for the elite end of the women's game.

Sunderland's first two seasons back in the top flight have been played in a calendar year, March to November, but the new WSL campaign will run from September to May.

The Lady Black Cats performed well in the WSL Spring Series, the competition instituted to plug the gap between the switch from summer to winter football.

Sunderland ended dead centre in the nine-team division in fifth, winning two and drawing three of their eight matches.

The side were only 'turned over' twice, 7-0 to an incredible Chelsea side, and 4-0 at Liverpool, their only other defeat being a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Manchester City.

Sunderland will face 18 league games across the course of the winter, with Everton returning to the top echelon following the sad demise of Notts County, just days before the Spring Series.

The Lady Black Cats have a new captain, Lucy Staniforth, following the retirement of legendary skipper, Steph Bannon, and she is looking forward to the start of hostilities next month.

Staniforth told www.safc.com: “We’ll be looking to put all our hard work over pre-season into practice [at Reading].

“Hosting the Champions Chelsea for our first home game of the season should help us to get a big crowd.

"We will definitely be looking for a better performance against them than we managed in the Spring Series.

"It will be a good challenge to start the season with and it will give us a good idea of where we are at.”

SUNDERLAND WSL1 FIXTURES 2017-18

SEPTEMBER
24 Reading (A) 2pm
30 Chelsea (H) 6pm


OCTOBER
8 Yeovil Town (A) 2pm
28 Liverpool (H) 6pm

NOVEMBER
12 Arsenal (A) 2pm

DECEMBER
10 Everton (A) 2pm

JANUARY
6 Birmingham (H) 6pm
27 Manchester City (H) 6pm

FEBRUARY
10 Bristol City (A) 5.30pm
21 Liverpool (A) 7pm

MARCH
24 Arsenal (H) 6pm
28 Everton (H) 7pm


APRIL
1 Birmingham City (A) 2pm
18 Manchester City (A) 6pm
21 Bristol City (H) 6pm
28 Reading (H) 6pm


MAY
12 Chelsea (A) 6pm
20 Yeovil Town (H) TBA