Brighton & Hove Albion’s women’s first-team manager Hope Powell is encouraging her players to play without pressure when they face Manchester City at the Broadfield Stadium this afternoon.
Albion face a City side that is still unbeaten from their opening five games, and Powell believes her team can use the underdog tag to their advantage.
She said, “We know the expectation is that they’ll beat us, but we can take heart from Bristol’s performance against them, where they got a draw, so we’re going into the game with every intention to get something.
“If we don’t win the game or get a draw, then we’ll be looking putting in a decent performance at the very least. In a way, it’s a less pressurised game because the expectation gives us freedom to play the way we want to.
“We know they’ve got quality players with pace, power and strength in every department. Like Chelsea, the players played them last season and know what to expect.
"They’re going to have more possession than we will, so rather than trying to press high we don’t want to expose ourselves too much. They’ve got pace, so we’ll have to sit a bit deeper, be patient and the key is to use the ball better when we have it. That’s the story in most of our games.”
The Seagulls head into the match after gaining their first point and goals on the board following last Sunday’s thrilling 3-3 draw at Everton, and Powell explained how it was a timely confidence boost for the squad.
“After a relatively good result on Sunday, everybody is buoyed and happy that we’ve got a point on the board and three goals.
“It felt like a win and credit to the girls, after coming back from 3-1 to get to 3-3 and get a point has really lifted everyone’s spirits and its proof of everyone’s hard work paying off.
“To get a reward for that is brilliant.”
Despite the positive nature of last week’s result, the Seagulls boss is urging her team to be more ruthless in front of goal, and explained there are still areas for improvement.
“We have to be clinical, and while we scored three good goals on Sunday, we also conceded three, which was disappointing.
“We have to take our opportunities because there have been too many games like that this season. Against Chelsea and Liverpool we had a number of chances but couldn’t take them, so we’re still a work in progress.”