Brighton & Hove Albion defender Fliss Gibbons hailed the marked improvement among the squad since the turn of the year, and feels the squad have now adapted to life in the top flight.
Albion have lost just one of their five FA Women’s Super League games in 2019, and Gibbons says the players no longer pay too much respect to their opponents.
She said, “We’ve picked up considerably more points since Christmas compared to the start of the season. We’ve really grown as the season has gone on.
“I really do think there’s a big difference in terms of how we’re playing. At the beginning of the year, there was a lot of the team that hadn’t played full time football before, and hadn’t played in this league either.
“We probably feared our opponents going into games, and I don’t think that would be unfair to say that. The Chelsea game would probably be the turning point, and despite losing the game, we got a confident boost knowing that we could compete with them.
“Since Christmas, we’re almost like a different team and we’re going into games with no fear, trusting ourselves and knowing our roles individually and collectively.”
The defender reflected on Wednesday’s impressive 2-1 win over Birmingham City, and despite the win, Gibbons admits there is still work to be done to retain their top-flight status.
“It was a really good result as Birmingham are fourth in the league at the moment, and it’s a massive boost for us.
“We went 1-0 down, so we showed really good character to bring the game back to 2-1, and it’s a big step to safety.
“Our goal is to stay in the FAWSL; we know that we’re by no means safe at the moment, but it was a huge boost for us to know that we can compete with the top teams in the league and ultimately, beat them.”
Gibbons spoke more generally about the step up this season, and feels that the hard graft in training is starting to pay off.
“The step up in the leagues has made a big difference. We’re playing against the best teams in the country and Europe too.
“The English league is one of the best now and the step up in the quality of football has been a big difference. Even the intensity of training has increased.
“There are more physiological effects on your body too, but we’ve taken everything into our stride going into the season and it seems like it’s paying off.”