Bristol quar­tet’s house of pain

The Football League Paper - - WOMEN'S FOOTBALL WEEKLY - By Luke Baker

AF­TER a par­tic­u­larly bad day at the of­fice, most peo­ple can head home and for­get about work – but that’s eas­ier said than done for Ang­harad James.

James lives with Bristol Academy team-mates Caro­line Weir, Jas­mine Matthews and Ge­or­gia Evans and ad­mits that the house has not been a pleas­ant place to be fol­low­ing last week­end’s sea­son-killing de­feat to Birm­ing­ham City.

In what was billed as a must­win game, Bristol meekly sur­ren­dered – a 3-0 loss mak­ing rel­e­ga­tion to WSL 2 more or less a for­mal­ity.

Adrift

The Vix­ens, with just one league win to their name this term, now find them­selves five points adrift of the Blues at the foot of the WSL 1 ta­ble with just two games re­main­ing.

A trip to ti­tle-chas­ing Manch­ester City and a clash with reign­ing cham­pi­ons Liver­pool await them and while their fate is not yet math­e­mat­i­cally sealed, James knows the writ­ing is on the wall.

“It does feel like we’re down – there was a re­al­i­sa­tion af­ter the last game that we needed to win it and un­for­tu­nately we didn’t,” said the 21-year-old.

“It’s still math­e­mat­i­cally pos­si­ble but ob­vi­ously that re­lies on Birm­ing­ham get­ting noth­ing and us win­ning both the games – and we’ve got two dif­fi­cult games to fin­ish on.

“I don’t think the per­for­mance against Birm­ing­ham was as bad as the re­sult sug­gests but it’s not about the per­for­mance, it’s about the num­ber of points you get. Af­ter the week­end’s game it was dif­fi­cult for my­self, Caro­line, Jas and Ge­or­gia to be our­selves and we have def­i­nitely been quite down in the house this week.

“We try and keep the football side of things in the football en­vi­ron­ment so when we come back to the house we can for­get about that, and we’re good mates off the pitch.

“We try to keep our­selves busy and dis­tracted but it has been hard this week with ev­ery­thing that has hap­pened.”

It has been a rel­a­tively swift fall from grace for Bristol Academy, who fin­ished sec­ond in the coun­try’s top tier just two years ago and were play­ing Cham­pi­ons League football last sea­son. But an in­creased in­ter­est in the women’s game and an in­flux of money into WSL 1 has left them lag­ging be­hind, with the south­west side un­able to com­pete with the likes of Chelsea, who re­cently paid a Bri­tish record trans­fer fee for Fran Kirby.

Bristol did be­come a full-time out­fit ear­lier this sea­son and while James has no­ticed the ben­e­fits, the midfielder con­cedes the shift came too late to im­pact on their fate.

“It’s ob­vi­ously a strug­gle when we haven’t got the same fi­nan­cial back­ing as some WSL 1 clubs,” added the Wales in­ter­na­tional. “We have gone full-time but peo­ple still have jobs to do, so it has been dif­fi­cult jug­gling that.

“It makes a huge dif­fer­ence train­ing twice a day as op­posed to two or three times a week like we were at the start of the sea­son.You can see in our per­for­mances that things have be­gun to click but it was just a bit too late.

“Hope­fully we can learn from that, con­tinue to be full-time and get straight back up if it is the case that we go down.”

RE­AL­IS­TIC: Ang­harad James

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