Bristol quartet’s house of pain

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 must-win game, Bristol meekly surrendered – a 3-0 loss making relegation to WSL 2 more or less a formality.

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 south-west 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.”

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