Lauren Smith reflects on Sunday's 'embarrassment'
(Credit: Dan Mullan via Getty Images)

Bristol City manager Lauren Smith has spoken about her embarrassment over her side’s 7-3 home defeat to Brighton on Sunday.

In a game that had so many twists and turns, the Robins conceded seven, the highest number of goals they’ve conceded in a game this season.

It could have been so different. The first half was tight and cagey, with City having chances, but they couldn’t take them to Smith’s frustration.

“The first half did feel like it was there for the taking, and half time, it was very easy to get the team together.

“We felt we could take the game; the two goals we conceded in the first half were goals that didn’t resemble how the first half went.

“We weren’t cut open, we didn’t give away clear chances, but we defended poorly in some key moments. But ultimately, Brighton couldn’t play out of the back and our press was working.

“They gave us the ball on six occasions from goal kicks, but we have to make sure we get something off of the back of that.

“That’s the whole purpose of the high press, but we were wasteful with those opportunities.”

Despite going into the break 2-0 down, Bristol found themselves 4-1 shortly after the hour mark.

Smith believed the game was done and dusted but praised her team’s resilience to bring the tie back to 4-3.

“I did feel like it was game on after we scored our first. I turned back, but when I turned around, we were 4-1 down.

“If I’m being brutally honest, at that point, I felt that the game had gone.

“I was then planning on either sealing up and defending a 4-1, or slowly make our way back into it and just save face if anything.

“The players did that all by themselves which is something that is great in this team and has been all season.

“We have fight, we have resilience, we have comeback ability, and we did show that as a team.

“Getting back to 4-3 was a key moment, and there was quite a bit of time left as we sat on 4-3, but then the goals we conceded from that point are really disappointing defensive errors.”

For all their guts and glory, three late goals cost the Robins and condemned them to their biggest defeat of the season, against a relegation rival no less.

Their last home game was a loss to fellow strugglers West Ham, a game that left City battered and bruised.

This defeat to Brighton, however, leaves a far bigger sting that could be felt for a longer period.

“It’s a different feeling to the West Ham game.

“There’s an embarrassment, an embarrassment for the scoreline, an embarrassment for how the goals were scored, and the players will be feeling that as well.

“The other part is the gap has gotten bigger. So now there’s a bit of realism down in the dressing room, because there’s a lot of reflection going on.

“There’s some upset faces as well which is understandable.”

Fans belief

Bristol City have recorded remarkable attendances at Ashton Gate this season, with another 3500+ attending the Brighton game.

For all their raucous support, they have still yet to see their team pick up a point at home.

Smith praised the fans once again for their passion on Sunday and apologised for what they saw.

“Every single time we score a goal at Ashton Gate, you can hear the excitement of the crowd, and it does really lift us.

“I’m thankful for them today for lifting us and getting us to 4-3. The team needed it at that point, they needed belief, and they got that from the fans.

“It’s unbelievable, and really, it’s more of an apology to the fans that they’ve had to witness that scoreline today.”

WSL survival

With West Ham picking up a point, Bristol City now have a six-point gap from safety.

To make matters worse, their next six games are against the WSL’s top six, before rounding off the season against Everton at home.

Smith says the squad have to give everything until the end of the season, and believe the fight is still alive.

“I’m absolutely tempted to go for it from this point. That will be a point the players will get to as well.

“It comes down to which group you want to be in. Do you want to be in the one that just accepts it and exits, or do you want to be in one that fights until the very death until you’re done.

“We all jump to the latter side, and not a single person in this squad and club would simply accept our fate right now. We have to have that attitude now.”