Mikey Harris looking to build on newfound confidence
(Credit: Dan Mullan via Getty Images)

Mikey Harris is hoping Sunday’s win against Bristol City will provide his team with a newfound confidence heading into the remainder of the season.

The Seagulls hadn’t won in the WSL since the end of January, but ended their run in remarkable fashion, beating Bristol City 4-3.

Harris’ only win in charge before this was against Wolves in the FA Cup, but says this win felt good, especially for a couple of senior players.

“To get the first WSL win as a group and for me personally is a wonderful feeling. To score seven goals with six different goal scorers is even better.

“It’s a really nice feeling, and it was nice for several reasons today. It was Guro Bergsvand’s birthday today, so we wanted to win for her.

“One of Tatiana Pinto’s close friends who she used to play with unfortunately passed away at a very young age this week. She’s been through a lot and the whole group has got round her.

“She scored today and that was a goal she can dedicate to her friend. That’s an amazing thing for her to have that moment.”

It could have been a very different story for Harris and Brighton.

Bristol had pulled the game back to 4-3, and they were looking like completing an unlikely and impossible comeback.

But it was Brighton who held their nerve and stretched their lead. Harris hailed their work in the first half, which he believed got them the big win.

“We know moments can change games in football, and they had a couple of big moments in which they brought the game back to 4-3.

“If I’m being totally honest, I always felt relatively calm throughout that situation.

“I always felt that, because of our dominance in the first half in terms of possession and territory, that Bristol City would find it difficult to maintain their energy for the whole game.

“Full credit to them because they never gave in today, and you can see Lauren [Smith] has got them fighting for everything. It was a tough game today.

“The result will probably paper over a few cracks. I don’t think we were four goals better today, but we’ll take it.

“In the last few games, there’s probably been moments that haven’t gone our way, so I’m pleased with the performance in large spells.”

Robinson's potential

A crucial reason as to why Brighton won this game was down to Katie Robinson.

The Lioness took the game by the scruff of the neck in the final furlongs of the and dragged her team to victory.

Harris believes Robinson is a special player who can go incredibly far in her career.

“I thought Robbo was excellent today. She was a constant threat, was always really positive.

“We’ve been encouraging her to take the one-vs.-ones and be really direct, because she can terrorise defenders across this league.

“I have a huge amount of confidence in her and really believe she can go on and be a top player. I’m delighted she scored today, because it was well taken and not an easy goal to score.”

Another player who performed admirably was Veatriki Sarri.

For all the Katie Robinson’s and Elisabeth Terland’s in the Brighton squad, Sarri adds calmness and quality to this team.

While her efforts can go unnoticed by many, Harris was keen to praise an important cog in his system.

“I think V is a top player. My selection decisions around her demonstrate how much I believe in her.

“She’s started all the WSL games, and I think she’s got wonderful qualities. She had a big moment in the first half where she nearly scored from distance.

“She’s a goal threat, she can create, she’s very good from a technical perspective, and she also works hard for the team.”

Strong finish

Brighton end the season with a handful of games against teams in and around them, which could provide them with even more points.

After a difficult start, Harris is hoping this win can be a catalyst for a late surge up the table.

“Everyone looks at the table and we were second from bottom before today, and everyone said, understandably, that this was a must-win game, a season defining one. I never saw it like that.

“We’ve got seven games to go, and there’s a lot of points to play for.

“I’ve always thought with the group that we have, and the players we’ve got, and the quality of staff, that we should be looking up the table.

“Hopefully today is a big step in that direction.”

Immediate attention, however, turns to Sunday and an FA Cup quarter-final clash with Manchester United.

United ended Brighton’s FA Cup run last season, but the interim manager is looking forward to the test, especially with more belief than ever under his belt.

“We’ll go into that game really confident off the back of today.

“Having six different scorers will give all those individuals a lift, and it can give the whole group a lift going into a fantastic cup tie.

“We’ve sold a lot of tickets for the game, and there’ll be an amazing atmosphere which will drive us on.

“Between now and then, we’ve got to recover the best we can, prepare the best we can, and we’ll go in full of confidence and try and progress to the semi-final.”