2017-18 WSL 2 season preview: Brighton & Hove Albion

How will the Seagulls fare in their first season in the WSL 2?

2017-18 WSL 2 season preview: Brighton & Hove Albion
Image Credit: NurPhoto / Getty Images

It's double delight for Brighton & Hove Albion this autumn as the Seagulls are not only enjoying life in the Premier League, but Brighton women will finally be able to have a taste of life in the Women's Super League following their promotion in June of last year.

Brighton will make their first forays in the WSL 2 as they open their campaign with a trip to Aston Villa on Sunday 24th September and the chairman and board of directors certainly have high aspirations going forward.

Chief executive Paul Barber has recently recapitulated his club's "ongoing commitment" in promoting women's football at the club. And, whilst talking about the club's off-the-field strategy,

Barber has also revealed how he visited Manchester City to "get ideas on how they have integrated their Women's team into their new training facility"

Brighton's board and backroom staff have spent the period from promotion to WSL 2 Spring Series, all the way through to the start of this September's 2017/2018 season building a team and a group of players who have the ability to not only stay in the Women's Super League, but also thrive and look towards promotion to the WSL 1.

Arrivals & departures 

The Seagulls appointed former England manager Hope Powell in the off season, with Amy Merricks taking the role of her assistant and interim manager George Parris reverting back to the position of Regional Talent Club Technical Director. 

During her 15-year tenure in charge of the national team, Powell also took charge of the Great Britain Women's football team at the London Olympics in 2012. 

Powell was England boss between 1998 and 2013 and will bring a wealth of coaching experience at the highest level, to a club with high ambitions of claiming back to back promotions to the top flight. 

An impressive acquisition for Brighton is, of course, Ini Umotong. The 23-year-old joined the club from fellow WSL 2 side Oxford United in July, where she had an outstanding season for the U's.

The Nigerian international claimed both the WSL 2 Top Goalscorer, scoring 13 goals in 19 appearances, and also won the Players' Player of The Year award. She has also had a prolific spell at Portsmouth in recent years, scoring 29 goals in their 2014/15 FA Women’s Premier League Southern Division title-winning campaign.

Thus, It is evident that Umotong is a proven goal scorer and Hope Powell will no doubt be hoping she can fire on all cyclinders once again this season.

Brighton also signed Fern and Aileen Whelan from Notts County in September, the defender and striker respectively will bring required Women's Super League experience for the new side.

The Seagulls have also strengthened their goalkeeping ranks in recent weeks following the departure of Faye Baker to neighbours Lewes Ladies and also due to the retirement of Emma Byrne. 

Brighton were desperate to add some experience to their number one spot and in a matter of days Powell signed England under-20 goalkeeper Chloe Sansom and former Watford keeper Lucy Gillett.

Gillett is a player Brighton have been well aware of in recent years and has played for the Lady Hornets in the 2016 FA Women’s Super League 2 season and in this year’s Spring Series.

Prior to arriving at Watford in March 2016, she rose to prominence playing for Springfield College and Hofstra University in America, before transferring to Knattspyrnufelagio Fram in Iceland. 

How did Brighton fare in the WSL 2 Spring Series?

The Seagulls finished sixth in the WSL 2 Spring Series, closing out the campaign with two victories, four draws and three losses. Brighton & Hove Albion ended their Spring Series season on a winning note though, after recording a comfortable 3-1 victory over Sheffield FC Ladies at the Amex