When Victoria Williams reflects on Brighton’s performance over the course of last season, the experienced defender describes it as “a bit up and down”.
They had not won a game in two-and-a-half months ahead of their visit to Bristol City at the end of January 2021 and were still licking their wounds after a 7-1 thumping by Manchester City the weekend before.
Brighton fell behind at Bristol after just three minutes – with a red card for Kayleigh Green adding insult to injury after goals either side of half-time from Ebony Salmon condemned them to a 3-0 loss against a team who would ultimately suffer relegation to the Women’s Championship.
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The result seemed like the worst possible preparation for a showdown with title-chasing Chelsea but the painful away-day defeat turned out to be the catalyst for Brighton’s season.
“I had an injury late October time, then I ended up getting Covid and we went down to Bristol away, and that was my first game [back]. It turned out to be the defining moment in Brighton’s season,” Williams explains in the second episode of our four-part Brighton: Beyond the Pitch series.
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Williams’ team-mate and partner Emily Simpkins has a vivid recollection of the mood in the Brighton changing room after the defeat.
“I just remember the changing room after that, like, there was tears and all sorts,” she said.
“Hope (Powell, manager) said ‘right, two players who were willing to get up call the team out and each other, like, come and deliver it’. So obviously, it was me and Trev (Victoria’s nickname). We didn’t want to stand up in front of everybody and say this is it – it was more of an open conversation.”
The message clearly got through as Brighton ended Chelsea’s incredible 33-match unbeaten with a 2-1 win at the home of the eventual champions before going on to consolidate their place in the Women’s Super League by finishing mid-table.
“We took that into Chelsea and went from there (low down in the table) to there (much higher up). We finished on a massive high, competing at that top level and we’ve proven to ourselves now that we can do that.
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“We can finish anywhere [this season] that’s the thing. We’re not restricting ourselves to just fifth or sixth, we’re going to go for it.”
Williams adds: “I want to win the league, but it’s easier said than done. Anything can happen really. I wouldn’t say it’s out of our reach because nothing is. We’ll see, but it’s not going to be easy.”
Watch the Barclays FA Women’s Super League live on Sky Sports
Sky Sports has announced a three-year deal with the FA to become the primary broadcaster of the Barclays FA Women’s Super League from September 2021, becoming one of Sky Sports flagship offerings.
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The deal will see Sky Sports show at least 35 games exclusively live per season and further strengthens the broadcaster’s commitment to women’s sport.
Sky Sports are recruiting for the best-in-class on-and-off-screen production team as part of the plan to align WSL with the broadcaster’s other big sporting leagues and events.
The WSL will get the full Sky Sports treatment with lengthy build-ups and reaction to all live matches, plus daily news from the competition across Sky Sports News and Sky Sports’ digital platforms.
Click play on the video at the top of the page to watch the second episode of Brighton: Beyond the Pitch, airing across Sky platforms on Wednesday
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