Brighton & Hove Albion women’s first-team assistant manager Amy Merricks says she can’t fault her players' endeavour, after a 7-1 defeat to Manchester City in the Continental Tyres Cup quarter-finals.
City advanced to the semi-finals after defeating Albion, scoring their final four goals in the last six minutes, but Merricks believes that the Seagulls matched their opponents for the first 70 minutes.
She said, “I can’t fault the girls' work rate. It has been another long journey after our trip to Liverpool last week, and the girls worked extemely hard then too.
“They competed really well for 70 minutes and in the first 45 I thought we were really compact and gave them a number of problems. We prevented their forward passes, created a couple of good opportunities and had the penalty.
“As we tired, our decision making dropped, and at times we were quite careless on the ball. That gave them a chance to win the ball back and create spaces for them to attack us, especially in the last ten minutes.
“This was a very good opportunity to see what they are like when we come back here again in the league.”
Another positive Merricks took was the debut of 16-year-old Ellie Hack, who was brought in from the development squad.
“We had a 16-year-old [Ellie Hack] make her debut today and that is a positive to take. I thought she did very well when she came on, especially in the difficult circumstances.
“She took it in her stride and she deserves a lot of credit for that. Physically she’s very good and she has a lot of age group experience playing for England.
“She’s been with us in training quite often and worked really hard. She reads the game well and she’s technically very good in possession.”
Merricks was taking charge from the dugout as manager Hope Powell didn’t travel to Manchester due to illness and she was grateful for the experience.
“Hope wouldn’t have missed the game for anything, but she is very poorly. The preparation for the game is exactly the same, and Hope was very heavily involved in the prep work, it’s just the past couple of days where she wasn’t with us.
“It’s a great experience for me to get an opportunity to be in the dugout and be that first person. The roles on the pitch, the way we play and what the girls do is exactly the same, so hopefully she can pick out some positives from the game.”
Merricks then looked ahead to the next match against Everton and is hoping being back at home will make the difference.
“The great thing about football is that the next game is just a few days away. I’m not saying it’s going to be an easy game at all because they are a good side.
“It will be a different game and hopefully we will have more of the ball. It’s at our home ground as well which makes a difference, and I know the girls are looking forward to playing there.
“Now it’s about recovering properly, getting back in the classroom and taking the positives from the Liverpool game last week and also the positives from today. We’ll go again and there’s no time to take our foot off the gas.”
Tickets for Albion’s next FA Women’s Super League match against Everton this Sunday 13th January are still available to purchase online at a price of £7 for adults and £3 for under-10s. Visit BrightonAndHoveAlbion.com/tickets to buy yours.