Brighton & Hove Albion overcame their disastrous 3-0 loss to Bristol City last weekend by beating league leaders Chelsea 2-1 at Kingsmeadow this afternoon.
Going into the fixture, nobody expected Brighton & Hove Albion to break Chelsea’s unbeaten record of 33 Barclays FA Womens Super League games. Yet, with a level of organisation, aggression and attitude that had gone a miss for much of December and January, The Seagulls recorded a big win which manager Hope Powell is hoping will reignite their season.
When discussing the magnitude of their victory in her post-match press conference, in which FAWSL Full-Time were present, Albion boss Powell couldn’t hide her delight in ending Chelsea’s two-year invincibility.
“Obviously, it sadly has to end sometime” said Powell. “I’m really pleased it was us, we didn’t have a very good weekend at Bristol.
“We were disappointed with ourselves. The girls have worked really hard and it has paid off.”
Last weekend, Brighton & Hove Albion were considered the favourites before falling to that 3-0 defeat to Bristol City, a loss which Powell labelled ‘totally unacceptable’. At Kingsmeadow this afternoon, she believes that her side revelled in being the underdog.
She said “We always seem to do better when we are the underdogs.
“Unfortunately, it’s something we’ve really got to work hard at, to beat the teams we are theoretically meant to. We’ve got to do better there.
“I don’t think anyone expected us to beat Chelsea today, I think sometimes that takes pressure off.
“Credit to our girls, they kept going, believed in the game plan and more importantly, executed it. Certainly the underdog mentality gives you a little bit extra, it certainly gives our team a bit extra.”
When asked how Brighton & Hove Albion were able to record such a feat, Powell believed that it was in the strength of the team performance and their defensive concentration.
“We knew Chelsea would have more possession of the ball” said the Albion boss. “It was about us being very organised, disciplined, having a good attitude and good effort.
“Against Chelsea, I’ll take all the luck we can get, sometimes you make your own luck.
“We tried to stifle them as much as possible, deny them space in the middle and that’s what they girls did, they executed it.
“We knew it’d be all about the defending.”
A notable absentee from the Brighton & Hove Albion side was goalkeeper Cecilie Fiskerstrand who had conceded from eight of the last 10 shots on target in which she had faced. When asked whether this had a part to play in Megan Walsh replacing her, Powell insisted that it was a tactical decision rather than one surrounding form as she believed that due to Chelsea’s attacking prowess and pace of Sam Kerr, The Seagulls needed a more reactive goalkeeper.
She said “Both goalkeepers work extremely hard, there isn’t a lot between the two so it was no reflection on Cecilie (Fiskerstrand) and the last two games that we lost.
“Megan’s more reactive, a shot stopper and quick off her line. We know the pace of Kerr in behind and Megan is as quick as any of our outfield players, a combination of that and reflex saves, we thought she’d be the best option today.”
Ultimately, Brighton & Hove Albion stuck to their well-constructed game plan and executed it perfectly to run out deserved 2-1 winners. They’ll be hoping to build on their performance in their fixture against West Ham United on Wednesday night.