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Finding ways of rattling rivals the challenge for Bristol City says Smith

Finding ways of rattling rivals the challenge for Bristol City says Smith
Finding ways of rattling rivals the challenge for Bristol City says Smith

Bristol City head coach Lauren Smith says that her side need to find ways of rattling their rivals in the coming weeks.

The Robins are five points adrift of safety at the bottom of the Barclays Women’s Super League table with just eight games to play. Bristol City face a daunting run of fixtures at the business end of the season with matches against all of the teams occupying places in the top half of the table.

In Smith’s three seasons in charge of Bristol City, the club have always been fighting for something at this stage of the year, whether that be promotion or league survival. Smith believes that similarities can be pulled from both challenges but the difference this year is that The Robins need to unnerve the teams above them in the table.

“It’s actually not that different to a relegation [battle] conversation that we are having right now,” Smith told WSL Full-Time when comparing the managerial differences between leading a team at the top and bottom of the table. “Last year, when we were the best team, we were winning and were top of the league for most of the season but when it got to this point, the pressure was huge. It was really tough at times to push the team forward.

“I don’t think that it has changed that much for the outcome that we want; we are fighting regardless of what it looks like. We are the team that everyone has to beat and that’s the same from both years. That stuff and the pressure is very similar.

“The biggest difference is that everyone loves each other when you’re winning, it’s a lot easier to walk in with a smile on your face. When you’re not getting results or not winning, that’s the biggest motivator; that players understand how valued they are, how good they are and what they can bring to the team. Those are the differences between last year and this year. Last year was about retaining focus and making sure nothing rattled us and this year, we are looking to find ways of rattling others.”

Bristol City face 11th-placed Brighton & Hove Albion at Ashton Gate on Sunday in what promises to be a huge fixture in the battle for survival. Smith said that her team were hurting after losing the reverse fixture but she is hoping that experience helps drive Bristol City on this weekend.

She said “They’ve all been ‘must-win’ games since Christmas really and we haven’t got to that point. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves in the last couple of games, especially against Leicester. It felt a pretty hefty loss given the type of game that it was and some of the errors that we made.

“An international break sometimes feels good, so hopefully, everyone has had a chance to reflect and we can push forward.

“At Brighton, we felt that it slipped away from us a little bit, those last five minutes were chaotic and the cross [for the third goal] will be something that fills my nightmares for some time. We came away feeling angry and frustrated from those final moments of the game but hopefully, we can use that to our advantage.”

Bristol City’s Barclays Women’s Super League fixture at Brighton & Hove Albion kicks-off at 2pm on Sunday afternoon. Tickets remain on-sale and can be purchased by clicking here.