The Football League Paper - - WOMEN'S FOOTBALL WEEKLY - By Tony Leighton

PRO­MO­TION-CHAS­ING Bris­tol City will aim for an im­me­di­ate re­turn to win­ning ways when they en­ter­tain WSL2 bot­tom club Wat­ford next Satur­day. Hopes of a rapid re­turn to the top flight, fol­low­ing last sea­son’s rel­e­ga­tion, were dealt a blow in last week’s 1-0 de­feat by Ever­ton.

Vic­tory for sec­ond-inthe-ta­ble Vix­ens would have taken them level on points with lead­ers Yeovil Town. In­stead, the Tof­fees, whose 1-0 win came via a penalty, edged to within two points of City with a game in hand.

“It was an ex­tremely frus­trat­ing de­feat,” said Vix­ens cap­tain Hay­ley Ladd, “es­pe­cially as the penalty de­ci­sion was highly de­bat­able.

“The de­ci­sion looked un­just when we watched the game back, but it’s gone now and we have to bounce back by beat­ing Wat­ford.

“We beat them 2-0 at their place and we are cer­tainly ca­pa­ble of com­plet­ing the dou­ble over them. But they’ve beaten Ever­ton since los­ing to us, which shows they are no walkover. There’s no way we’ll be tak­ing them lightly.”

City can steal a march on their pro­mo­tion ri­vals as their game comes 24 hours be­fore the rest of next week­end’s WSL2 matches.

Yeovil, Ever­ton and fourth-placed Durham, the lat­ter sit­ting just three points be­low Bris­tol with a game in hand, have Sun­day fix­tures.

Just two pro­mo­tion places are up for grabs and Wales in­ter­na­tional Ladd, 22, said: “The race could go right to the wire.

“Our fate is still in our own hands. If we win our last four games, we’ll clinch pro­mo­tion.

“That’s go­ing to be eas­ier said than done be­cause we’ve got re­turn fix­tures against Ever­ton and Durham among those games.

“But Ever­ton have also got to play Yeovil and Durham, so there could be plenty of twists and turns dur­ing the run-in.”

Ladd is des­per­ate to lead her team back to the top flight af­ter last year’s rel­e­ga­tion in her first sea­son with Bris­tol.

Though she will set­tle for a sec­ond-place fin­ish to guar­an­tee pro­mo­tion, she is aim­ing to make it a tri­umphant re­turn to WSL1.

“We’ve def­i­nitely got the ti­tle in our sights,” said the for­mer Arse­nal mid­fielder, who joined the Vix­ens from Premier League Coven­try City.

“Last year was a bit­ter dis­ap­point­ment for me.

“There was only one thing on my mind at the start of this sea­son and that was to help us get back up there.

“There’s a lot of hard work to do if we’re to fin­ish the sea­son ahead of the ex­cel­lent teams around us. We can’t con­cern our­selves with oth­ers, though. We have to con­cen­trate on what we need to do. I think it will come down to who can hold their nerve and form best – we’ve got to make sure that’s us!”

STUCK IN: Hay­ley Ladd, left, fights for the ball

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