Matt Beard reckons the timing of Maya Le Tissier’s early opener for Brighton was the decisive moment in Bristol City Women’s failed survival bid, after a 3-1 defeat against the Seagulls saw the Vixens relegated from the Barclays FA WSL.
City headed into their final clash of the campaign bottom of the table, needing to beat Brighton and either Aston Villa or Birmingham to lose in order to avoid the drop.
But their uphill task became even steeper when 19-year-old Le Tissier fired home from close range on seven minutes after a Brighton corner, before Manchester City loanee Lee Geum-min made it 2-0 soon after the break.
Abi Harrison gave City hope of a dramatic turnaround with a goal just past the hour, but Inessa Kaagman’s free-kick deflected in 14 minutes from time to seal the fate of Beard’s side.
“We started well, and then we conceded early from a set-play which doesn’t help,” said Beard, who took over when Tanya Oxtoby went on maternity leave in January.
“After that we didn’t do the fundamentals well enough – there was still plenty of time for us to do what we needed to do at that point.
“But the players have left everything on the pitch. It’s not through the want of trying but unfortunately we just couldn’t get over the line in this relegation battle.
“We’re all obviously devastated – you could see that with the reaction after the game.”
City ended the season two points adrift of safety, having managed just two wins from 22 league games, and conceded 72 goals.
And while Beard accepted relegation was a product of their form across the whole season, he is quickly turning his attention to getting ready for a tilt at securing promotion from the FA Women’s Championship next season.
He added: “I think if you look at some of the games where we could’ve maybe got more points – West Ham and Birmingham away especially – we’ve had chances to get points. It’s not only about today – it’s about the whole season.
“I’ve said all week that the players deserve an enormous amount of credit for getting themselves in the position they were in before this game, considering where we were when I came in.
“But we’re a young team and we’ll learn from experiences like this. We need to get today out of the way, tomorrow’s a new day and we’ll deal with it from there.”
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