The top two teams in the Championship go head to head on Sunday in a flagship game for the league‘s title race.
After the original fixture was cancelled in February due to snow, Leicester City will at last travel to the North East on Sunday to face Durham. With no Women’s Super League football this weekend, this match could prove a real showcase for the Women’s Championship.
Despite finishing a humble sixth last season, Leicester look primed for promotion to the WSL this year. In the summer of 2020, they were bought by the parent company of the men’s side. They subsequently became fully professional and drew in experienced WSL players such as Remi Allen, Millie Farrow and Esme de Graaf. They currently sit top of the table with a game in-hand over Durham, a win tomorrow could put the title race to bed.
However, the fight for the crowning spot may not be over quite yet. Despite not being fully professional or affiliated with a top men’s club, Durham have been a consistent performer in the Championship since its inception in 2014. This season, they are hot on Leicester’s heels with both clubs sitting on 38 points.
Durham have demanded respect this season and gained a reputation as a tough team to crack. They are yet to lose in the league and have ground out five draws. The Wildcats also boast the best defensive record in the Championship this season, conceding just nine goals so far.
Last Sunday, two second-half goals from Bridget Galloway and Sarah McFadden saw Durham take all three points away at Blackburn Rovers.
Leicester on the other hand have been the league’s most prolific scorers, scoring an incredible 44 goals so far.
Their game last week saw an emphatic 7-0 victory over the struggling London Bees. With five different players on the scoresheet, it was a demonstration of the ambitious, talented squad Leicester have built this season.
They have lost just once, a surprising 4-1 defeat to London City Lionesses but have only settled for a point twice this season.
With both teams enjoying such successful streaks, it may take a moment of magic to break the deadlock.
Last time out
The last time the two title race contenders faced each other, it ended in a 2-2 draw. Durham opened the scoring with a lethal volley from Emily Roberts and were ahead at the break. An exquisite chip over the keeper from Allen got the Foxes level.
However, they went behind again after Beth Hepple converted a free-kick. The usually resolute Durham defence couldn’t withstand Leicester’s pressure to collect all three points. In the 90th minute, substitute Lachante Paul brought the sides level again.
Leicester manager Jonathan Morgan has praised Durham as “a team full of people that want to graft and want to fight for each other”.
He predicts Sunday will bring “a mentally absorbing game and it’s going to be physically demanding.”
Leicester player Sophie Barker spoke about the high stakes: “It’s not a title decider, but it is in the sense that we know that Durham are probably one of the strongest teams in this league.”
Durham vs Leicester City will kick off at 12pm and will be streamed live on the FA Player and on Durham’s Facebook page. Durham have encouraged viewers to donate towards their drive to #ENDCHILDFOODPOVERTY here.