Brighton & Hove Albion women’s development squad lead coach Jack Fagan believes that the team can come away with their 'heads held high' following a narrow 1-0 defeat to Chichester City in the Sussex Women’s Challenge Cup Final.
Albion’s young players fought well against their more experienced opponents, and Fagan was impressed with how they reacted after conceding inside two minutes.
He said, “The girls were fantastic and they can come away from this game with their heads held high. It wasn’t quite our day.
“Maya Le Tissier’s free-kick crashed against the crossbar and didn’t quite go in, but it was so close. We kept pushing and pushing and the fact we stayed in the game against a very good, physical side, as well as playing nice football meant that the people who came to watch today could see what we were about. We still have a game next week so they need to keep their heads up.
“You can lose your head if you concede early, and especially in a final. It was a great strike from their player [Mollie Clark] and there is not much Laura Hartley could have done to stop it. If you’re not careful and then you concede another goal to go two-nil down, and you can almost wave goodbye to the match.
“But we stayed in the game, kept battling and started to win a few more of our individual battles. It was unfortunate that we didn’t quite get that one chance we needed to put away.”
Fagan also explained the positive effects the match will have on the players’ development, and how it can help push them on to the next level.
“This is massive for the players’ development, going up against women who are playing at a good level of football. A few of the players here train with the first-team, and they have put in a positive performance.
“This match has been great for them to play in at this age and to get used to it, especially if they want to move up to a senior level. Playing in the first-team is a shock physically and matches like this will help them get used to it, and the more they do it, the more they will be ready for that.”
The match was also played under the watchful eye of women’s first-team manager Hope Powell and her assistant Amy Merricks and Fagan believes his team were able to showcase their ability to the senior staff.
“We will continue training for our final match next week and a few of these players will be involved with the first-team, as they have been all season.
“It will be a good opportunity for them to progress and impress Hope and Amy who were both here tonight and were happy with the way the girls pushed and performed, and hopefully they can kick on again.”