Brighton suffer 3-0 defeat to Arsenal in front of record WSL attendance at Broadfield
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Stina Blackstenius opened the scoring for the away side, capitalising on a poor clearance from Albion defender Jorelyn Carabali and placing the ball in the top left corner.
Despite Albion’s second half efforts, Caitlin Foord drilled the ball into the bottom left corner past Brighton keeper Baggaley to secure the three points for her side.
In additional time, Arsenal capped off their winning performance with a third goal coming from substitute Frida Maanum. The result leaves Brighton Women in 7th place with seven points, whilst Arsenal Women are second with 16 points.
Phillips said: “We’re hugely disappointed by the scoreline and ultimately the result. I think it was really a game of two halves, we found some success in possession and had some real confidence about us coming in from the first half.
"We conceded a really poor, sloppy goal in the first half off the back of a mis clearance, but we were very much in the game. We found space when we switched the point of attack, but we just didn’t find that same space in the second half. We turned into pressure a bit more and struggled to get out of our half for that reason.
"I think the scoreline is a little bit unjust given the timing and the nature of which they scored their goals later in the game. I’m proud of the fight of the group as always and how competitive we were against yet another top opponent.”
Talking about their record 3,921-strong attendance, Phillips said: “The fans have been really excited about the performances out on the pitch throughout despite the results.
"They see the progress and the growth of the team in how organised we are and the fight we have to show, and the fans are a huge part of that. We love that it's a packed house and we can’t thank them enough for their support, long may it continue!”
In the early proceedings the away side looked to impose themselves and created multiple attacks. As the away side continued to probe, a more than unconvincing clearance from Brighton defender, Jorelyn Carabali, allowed Blackstenius to take a shot at goal, with her second attempt looping over Albion goalkeeper, Sophie Baggaley, into the top corner of the goal.
As the Seagulls went on the search for an equaliser, Pauline Bremer found Brighton captain Vicky Losada in a promising position on the edge of the 18-yard box. However as Losada was dispossessed, a counter-attack ensued, with a through ball from Caitlin Foord to Blackstenius allowing her a clear, but lengthy, run on goal. The Arsenal forward was taken down though and the attack fizzled out, a very similar outcome to Brighton’s attacking efforts in the early stages of the match.
As opportunities for the Albion looked scarce, it seemed Losada was hoping to produce the spectacular, as she attempted a long range effort. Her audacious effort sailed over the bar as the game entered the half hour mark. The game very much continued on in the same vein as the half proceeded, with both sides failing to produce any significantly alarming attacks.
In the final few action of the half, it was the Albion who had increased their intent, with Arsenal goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger being forced into multiple saves. The most promising of the chances for the Seagulls came when a corner found Zigiotti, whose shot was frantically pushed round the post by Zinsberger.
Brighton started the second half just as brightly as they had concluded the first, with a highly promising attack through Albion defender Maria Thorisdottir only being stopped in its tracks at the last moment, as Alessia Russo produced a fine block to force Katie Robinson’s powerful shot behind for a corner. The set piece delivery from the Albion Captain was headed over by Bergsvand, in what concluded a chance gone knocking for the Seagulls.
Despite Albion’s efforts, it looked as though the Gunners were going to double their lead, as a cross into the box found Mead. The golden opportunity was squandered by the forward however, as her shot veered over the bar in the 63rd minute. With Arsenal substitute and forward Frida Maanum injecting some much needed energy into the away side, the Gunners looked increasingly likely to extend their lead.
The most promising of these chances came in the 79th minute, as a ball from Palova through to Maanum in the six yard box was tapped wide by the sliding substitute. However, the goal to arguably end the game did come only a minute later, as Caitlin Foord took advantage of a misplaced pass from the Albion, and drilled the ball into the bottom left corner.
After what was seeming to be another resolute performance defensively from the Albion, it was certainly disappointing to see just how much time and space the Australian forward had.
A corner for the Albion in stoppage time offered them a chance for a consolation goal, however the half volley from Robinson on the edge of the box just sailed over the bar. For all of Arsenal’s efforts to extend their lead to three, they got their reward in the last minute of stoppage time. A pinpoint cross from Russo to Lacasse was laid off to Frida Maanum, who was in the perfect position to tap home Arsenal’s third and conclude the match.
Arsenal Women’s boss Jonas Eidevall explained his preference to play Blackstenius and Russo alongside Foord and Mead saying, “It’s a balance when you play Brighton, they’re either playing out from the back or they’re, as we saw when they scored against Manchester City, pushing up their whole team when the goalkeeper gets the ball.
"They have some really strong target players up there like Bremer, Geum-min Lee and Terland and they try to flick the ball on, so you have to handle that situation as well. It (the decision) was to handle both of the situations, but especially on the counter. We wanted to be aggressive and get the suffocating shape out so we could sustain attacks, and I think we did that really well in the second half.”
“I think we gave Brighton way too much time and space in the first half, and they’re a quite expansive organisation that likes to switch side to side. At half time we identified which player had time and space from our team and I think we did that really well in the second half in finding those players.”
On a record away attendance for the club, she said: “I think it's huge for us because the support is tremendous and helps us so much. I think what we’re trying to build is unique and special, not only with our away travelling fans but how many tickets we sell for the games at the Emirates. Maybe we will have a sell out against Chelsea in the WSL in December too.”
Brighton Women will be at Broadfield again on Wednesday night at 7pm, as they take on West Ham in the Continental Cup group stage.
Brighton: Baggaley, Mengwen (Jayde Rule), Thorisdottir, Bergsvand, Kullberg (Pattinson), Losada C (Symonds), Zigiotti, Carabali, Terland (Pinto), Robinson, Bremer (Geum-min Lee)
Arsenal: Zinsberger, McCabe C (Catley), Ilestedt, Wubben-Moy, Maritz, Cooney-Cross (Walti), Pelova (Kuhl), Blackstenius (Maanum), Foord, Russo, Mead (Lacasse).