Brighton and Hove Albion women emphatically ensured their status as Premier League champions with an emphatic 4-2 play-off win against Northern Division winners Sporting Club Albion.
The promotion shoot out was held at a sunkissed Sunday afternoon at Adam’s Park, with the result ensuring that Brighton’s women now subject to WSL licensing requirements will be promoted into Women’s Super League Two.
An emphatic start to the second half effectively won the tie with Kate Natkiel (grabbing her second of the game), Sophie Perry and Amy Taylor netting shortly after the break to effectively end any hopes Sporting had of securing promotion. The first half had been a tight affair with Natkiel’s screamer bringing Albion level after Leigh Dugmore composed finish had opened the scoring for Sporting. Karen Clough’s late strike was merely a consolation as Sporting Club remain in tier three of England’s professional women’s leagues.
Sporting Club associated with West Bromwich Albion had been in good form winning 17 of their 22 league games en route to securing the 2015/16 Northern title ahead of Preston North End Ladies also making it through to the Women’s FA Cup Quarter finals earlier in the season.
Brighton who of course won the Southern Division title losing just two games in the process had parted company with manager James Marrs’ following a disciplinary hearing last month. Sights next season will now turn to winning another promotion aiming to become only the second team after Sheffield FC Ladies to gain entry to the WSL (Women’s Super League) via the promotion route.
Albion’s brace bagger Kate Natkiel reflected on what has proven to a highly successful season despite the complications along the way:
Natkiel said: “It’s amazing, I couldn’t think of anything better, I couldn’t ask for a better performance.
“All the fans that came to watch us, gave us their support – and I think we rose to the occasion and we gave them everything we had.
“Every single one of them was amazing. When you hear them when you’re going forward, it gives you all the confidence in the world and thanks to everyone for coming because they made the day for us.
“It has been a hard few months, but we really rose to it and we’ve come together as a team, as you can see, and we didn’t let anything get us down.”
Brighton and Hove Albion (3-5-2): Baker; Cooper, Ashton-Jones, Boswell; Perry, Barton, Young, Olding (Rowe 90), Somes (Dorey 80); Taylor (Fulgence 86), Natkiel.
Subs not used: Leitch, Wilson.
Sporting Club Albion (4-4-2): Thomas; Crossman, Conroy, Darby, Highman; Smith, Holmes, Greaves, Parnell (Clough 74); Dugmore, Cottam (Haynes 74).
Subs not used: Edmunds, Dicken, Wright.
Referee: Anthony Tankard