London City Lionesses travel to Blackburn Rovers in the penultimate week of the Barclays Women’s Championship season on Sunday [23 April].
The Lionesses approach the weekend hoping to bounce back from disappointment last time out, with the squad falling to defeat versus Southampton.
London City’s loss saw them loose valuable ground in the title race, dropping to third in the standings behind in-form Birmingham City.
In her weekly media availability, Runnacles emphasized the importance of off-ball movement, creativity, and patience in possession ahead of her squad's trip to Blackburn.
“Blackburn tend to accept that they’re not likely to have much of the ball against us and drop into a defensive shape that makes it difficult for us to break them down,” she explained. “It’s a question that we have to answer in terms of our movement, creativity, and patience on the ball. We expect our possession stats to be really high, but it’s about making sure we move the ball quickly.
The Lionesses will look to their experienced players to lead the way against Blackburn, with veteran centre-back Harley Bennett named SETL Player of the Match for her performance on the South Coast. Lucy Fitzgerald also performed well on her return to the starting eleven, slotting into the squad at left wing-back against the Saints.
“They’re a really tough team to play against,” Fitzgerald said of Blackburn. “Whenever we’ve played against them, it’s been a hard game. They are good defensively in their midblock, but we also know that they can counter-attack effectively.
"We’ve got to be prepared to defend well and be confident with our chances at the other end. If we go into the game with full belief, we will take those chances and come out on top.”
Despite the challenges that lie ahead, the Lionesses are determined to produce an imposing performance and result as the clock ticks down in the second division.
“Disappointment was always going to be the initial reaction,” Runnacles said when asked about the mood in the camp after defeat to Southampton, “and we would expect that to be the case because we’ve been working so hard towards a goal and not picking up those points hurt.
“But we’ve refocused since then, taking responsibility for the results and identifying where we made mistakes – both players and staff. It’s now all on Blackburn, with long travel and a difficult team to playa against, but we know it’s the kind of place you need to secure points from if you want to compete at the top of the table.”
London City Lionesses | Record: 12-3-5 | Position: 3rd
Southampton 1-0 London City
London City 1-0 Charlton Athletic
Durham 3-0 London City
London City 2-0 Bristol City
London City 3-1 Lewes F.C.
Blackburn Rovers | Record: 3-8-8 | Position: 11th
Lewes 1-0 Blackburn
Blackburn 2-2 Durham
Crystal Palace 1-0 Blackburn
Blackburn 1-1 Charlton
Southampton 0-0 Blackburn
London City Lionesses
Goals: Sarah Ewens (ten)
Assists: Shanade Hopcroft (eight)
Saffron Jordan (nine)
Natasha Fenton, Jade Richards, Niamh Murphy (two)
London City Injuries/Suspensions:
Charlotte Fleming (lower-body)
Lily Agg (lower-body)
Sarah Ewens (lower-body)