Brighton & Hove Albion women’s manager James Marrs has paid tribute to his players ahead of Sunday’s potential title decider against Keynsham, kick-off 2pm.
The Seagulls must beat the Somerset side at the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre, and hope that West Ham United secure victory over league leaders Portsmouth in order to claim the title and a spot in the Women’s Super League play-off match.
Marrs told seagulls.co.uk, “The players have given me everything they’ve got and are a really hardworking bunch.
“They’re a fantastic group to work with and I cannot fault their endeavour throughout the season. I can’t complain about their efforts or their work rate either.
“We’re unbeaten in the last seven games and we knew that we needed to finish the season strongly to give us any sort of opportunity to win the league.
“I can’t fault our finish to the season and we’ve already managed to eclipse the total of 46 points which won the league last season, so it’s been a really impressive effort.”
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Marrs admitted that the season has been about fine margins, following a frustrating 2-2 draw at West Ham and a narrow 2-1 defeat away at Portsmouth in March, but insists his side will do everything they can to take advantage of a possible Hammers victory.
“This season has shown us how pivotal the key moments are and we could be sitting top if we had managed to pick up a draw with Portsmouth and a win over West Ham.
“Those moments have made a difference and you cannot afford to have too many slip-ups in this league.
“Portsmouth have been the most consistent team so far, but if they slip up then we’ll be there to pounce.
“To have the year we’ve had has certainly exceeded expectations across the board, but to be this close and to still be in with a chance of winning it makes you want it even more.
“We’re not out of it and we’re hoping that West Ham can pick up three points on Sunday - which is well within their grasp. The pressure is all on Portsmouth and they still need to do a job to win the league.
“Everybody would be disappointed on Sunday if we don’t manage to win it, because we’ve come so far and got so close. It’s then my job to make sure that everyone is realistic in their expectations and to ensure we really have a go at winning it again next year.”
However, Marrs is fully aware that a Portsmouth defeat would mean nothing if his side fail to beat Keynsham, which the Albion manager says will be no formality.
“Keynsham will come here with nothing to lose. I thought they played some good football last week and they can definitely hurt us.
“It will be a real kick in the teeth if we don’t pick up the points and Portsmouth lose. We need to make sure we do our job, and to finish the season on 53 points from a possible 66 would be very impressive."