Brighton & Hove Albion midfielder Megan Connolly believes Arsenal ‘showed their class’ in today’s FA Women’s Super League match at the Amex.
The Gunners were crowned FA WSL champions for a third time following their 4-0 victory, but the Republic of Ireland international was happy with the fighting spirit the team showed.
She said, “It was a tough game. Arsenal came out quickly and started well. We tried to implement what we did out on the training pitch to combat their attack, switch the play and keep our discipline well. We managed to stay focused after they scored the early goal; we stuck it out well and kept plugging away.
“Then after going into half time 2-0 down, we came out fighting. We got Arsenal on the back foot more and became more attacking.
"But they just showed how much class they had and took their chances well to get their goals, and proved why they became league champions today.”
Albion played in front of 5,265 – a record attendance for an FA WSL fixture and the midfielder believes the players took encouragement from the fantastic turn out on the pitch.
“It was unbelievable – I loved it. At the start we could hear the Brighton fans shouting, then the Arsenal fans shouting," she continued.
“Then after the match, so many people stayed behind so we could sign autographs for the kids who came down It’s great for the community and the supporters, and even though the result didn’t go our way, it was a good atmosphere and a good game for people to watch.
"When things go well you can hear them and when things aren’t going so well you can also hear them giving encouragement.”
The 22-year-old then reflected on the positives Hope Powell’s side could take from the match into the final match of the season against West Ham United in two weeks time, and highlighted the importance of ending the season on a high.
“There are certain things we can take from the game. For spells, we showed that we could compete with teams like this - the way we played, switching the ball to the wings, putting it in the box and managing to create a few chances against a team like Arsenal.
“It’s about taking that positive, forward play into the West Ham match. Also, when Arsenal had us on the back foot we showed we could stay organised and structured to block the shots and try to keep them out.
"The main thing for us though was that we fought until the end. It was a testament to everyone today that – even though it ended 4-0 – we still tried to press them and we didn't give up.
“It’s massive to end the season on a high. For me, even though I’ve only been here for six months, I’ve still managed to see this team grow.
"Securing our place in the FA WSL next year has been massive so now we’ll look to finish positively, aim for the win and come back after summer raring to go.”