'We couldn't string passes together' - Brighton boss Hope Powell brutally honest after Man United defeat

Brighton boss Hope Powell lamented Albion's defensive shape and poor passing as they were well beaten by Manchester United in the Women's Super League

Brighton and Hove Albion head coach Hope Powell was unimpressed by the team's display in the WSL against Man United

Goals from Hayley Ladd and Vilde Boe Risa in either half ended Manchester United’s four-game winless league run as they beat Brighton 2-0.

Brighton manager Hope Powell said: “I don’t think we’ve played very well at all. In the first half, I thought we were well below on what we consider our best.

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“A lot of credit to Man United, a very good side, today, a better footballing side than we were. We didn’t do the things that we have been working on this week.

“But I think in the second half, we came out a little bit better and did the things we asked them to do in terms of defensive shape, made a little bit more difficult for them.

“We couldn’t string the passes together, minimal chances so not a good day. Megan Walsh’s saves showed that she has really improved this season and probably accounts for the reason why we are sitting in third position and progressing up in the Women’s Super League.

“I thought she was outstanding again and was a bit unfortunate for the two goals conceded. I am really pleased she found her rhythm, confidence and will be a big player for us in the team.”

Albion have two games before the Christmas break with a trip to West Ham in the Conti Cup on Wednesday followed by next Sunday’s visit to WSL leaders Arsenal.

“It’s a tough week so recovery from today will be important,” added Powell. “We’ve got to put this behind us quickly and move on, but we have to improve on our performance today. The girls know they can play better.”

Match report

United came close to taking the lead in the opening two minutes when Ladd’s low cross found Risa in the six-yard box and she forced Megan Walsh to produce a fantastic save.

Midway through the half, Katie Zelem played a superb ball forward to Risa, who burst into the Brighton box and fired a powerful effort that saw Walsh pull off another important save.

The Seagulls’ shot-stopper then denied Risa once again moments later with a low diving save as the United attacker tried her luck with a long-range effort in the 38th minute.

Hope Powell’s side, on the other hand, failed to establish any sort of foothold in the game in the first half as they never tested United goalkeeper Mary Earps.

On the stroke of half-time, Ona Batlle executed an inch-perfect cross which deflected into the path of Hadd and she slotted the ball into the bottom corner to give United the lead.

The visitors continued to dominate after the break and just before the hour mark another opportunity fell to Risa, whose low driving effort was brilliantly saved again by Walsh.

With 21 minutes remaining, Marc Skinner’s side doubled their lead through Risa as she finally opened her United account by poking home an excellent cross from Alessia Russo.

Brighton almost grabbed a consolation when Ellie Brazil had an effort from close-range denied by Warps but it was United’s day as they secured a clean sheet and a resounding win.

To follow the action and sign up for The FA Player’s live Barclays FA Women’s Super League coverage visit womenscompetitions.thefa.com

Risa said

Manchester United midfielder Vilde Boe Risa said: “We knew we needed to win and it was a tough game for us so a very important win.

“It was important to us to have a good shape defensively and then we knew that it would create big spaces to counter on so we did well on our shape and had some offensive runs.

“It was so nice to score and had a lot of tenses today so I was so happy to score my first goal in the Women’s Super League and a big moment for me.

“This league is very different to what I have been used too and it’s much tougher now but I feel I can run more and be very offensive and do the runs in-behind.

“Also getting big chances to score and I am happy to do that. I felt great playing as a number 10 and had a lot of chances so just need to work on my finishing. Now I need to work hard to be a tough player and love to be an offensive player but it’s good for me and I can develop a lot.”


Brighton: (5-3-2): Megan Walsh; Emma Koivisto, Maya Le Tissier, Danique Kerkdijk, Victoria Williams, Felicity Gibbons; Libby Bance, Megan Connolly, Aileen Whelan; Ellie Brazil, Lee Geum-min

Substitutes: Danielle Carter for Gibbons 45’, Danielle Bowman for Kerkdijk 58’, Katie Robinson for Bance 72’, Maisie Symonds for Brazil 85’

Substitutes not used: Emily Simpkins, Kayleigh Green, Katie Startup, Frances Angel

Bookings: Williams 80’

Referee: Abigail Byrne

Attendance: 1,776