Bristol City end of season review

Bristol City end of season review

Vixens return to top flight with a point to prove

Sophie Lawson

Only away from the top flight for a season, Bristol City benefited from a risk-free Spring Series to get a re-feel for the changing league, their experience parried into the new season.

Strong start

Having lost a handful of significant players over the summer, Willie Kirk was quick to bring in Belgian duo Yana Daniëls and Julie Biesmans (Lorca Van De Putte also signed though injury prevented her from playing a part). With the Belgians came Danique Kerkdijk from FC Twente, the young defender on the fringes of the Dutch national team, Charlie Estcourt returned for another loan as Carla Humphrey was acquired from Arsenal and Sophie Baggaley joined on a loan.

The young team didn’t have to wait long for their first success of the season, fast bouncing-back from an opening day 6-0 loss away to Chelsea, a narrow in over Yeovil enough to see them work up the table. The win followed by a surprise draw in Borehamwood, the Vixens had arrived, or at least that was the impression they gave, four consecutive losses telling a different story. Wins over Yeovil and Brighton in the league cup an early Christmas present before their 2017 ended with a loss to Manchester City, wrapping up their involvement in the cup.

Starting the new year with a 2-1 win over Everton, Bristol again showed their inability to find consistency as they fell to seven consecutive losses, Everton extracting swift revenge by taking them out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle, their league position slipping. Having lost 2-1 at home to the Lady Black Cats in February, the Vixens had more joy away from home, besting their opposition by the same score in South Shields. A heavy loss at home to Man City followed before back-to-back wins, the double done over both Everton and Yeovil, the season ending with two losses at home to Arsenal and Chelsea.

Uncertainty ahead

There were plenty of plus points for the Vixens over the season, the young team adapting well but there remains an umbrella of uncertainty over the squad. As assumed, teenage wonder Lauren Hemp has already left for green pastures, but more surprisingly Kirk who has been so key to Bristol’s success has departed too. Although a new manager announcement is on the horizon for the Vixens, it’s already clear that the team next season will look different enough to that of this season. Though if the new manager, can keep as many of the core players as possible and fast reinforce a specific style, not necessarily one that apes Kirk's style but that sees the team well balanced, the team could yet find firm ground.