Former Brighton & Hove Albion defender Vicky Ashton-Jones believes the team has everything in place to make an impact in the upcoming FA Women’s Super League season.
Ashton-Jones left the club in the summer to join Gillingham in order to continue her career as a police officer, but will still retain close links with the Seagulls, after agreeing to take part in a challenge to climb Mount Kilimanjaro next month in aid of Albion in the Community.
She said, “With Brighton now in the top flight, going full-time sadly wasn’t an option for me because of my job. To have the opportunity to stay involved with the club and still be able to play football, is the best of both worlds for me.
“There are some really big sides in the Women's Super League, and you have to pick your fights with some of them, as there will be some odds-on favourites to win the league.
“But I also think the girls will hold their own. Hope [Powell] has kept the core of the squad together, and has made some very good additions which will improve the team.
“I know they have been working very hard in pre-season doing a lot of fitness work, and a lot of strength and conditioning too, so they’ll be in the best physical condition they can be to challenge this year. I think that’s where they’ll grind out results."
As of this season, Albion will be playing their home matches at Crawley Town’s Broadfield Stadium, a place that hosted one of the club’s most memorable matches of the last campaign.
“I look back at last year and the stand-out performance for me was at home to Doncaster Belles.
“Unless you were there, you can’t fully appreciate the effort the girls put in; it was unbelievable. I haven’t seen anything like the effort which was put into the first hour of the game; I don’t know where they got that energy from.
“They dug in deeper than I’ve ever seen them before, and they deserved to be 1-0 up when they scored. They battled and they fought so hard, and Doncaster were a big and physical side that were top of the league and winning week-in, week-out.
“But they competed and were better than what Doncaster Belles were and deserved to win that game for the performance alone. Going forward, every week will be like that for them now, and they need to be in the best physical condition for them to do that.
“They’ve got the technical ability to hold their own as well; there will be games they will win comfortably and there will be games they’ll have to grind out results.
“But I think they’ll finish well in the league and they’ll aspire to build on that in the coming seasons.”
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