Lauren Smith: Bristol City ‘learnt a few lessons’ against Leicester City on MD1

As her Bristol City side prepare to face Leicester City in the Barclays Women’s Super League on Sunday, Lauren Smith addressed the media on Thursday afternoon. With the Robins sitting at the bottom of the table as they enter the second half of the season, victory against an in-form Foxes side is almost imperative for their hopes of top-flight survival.

A 1-2 defeat to West Ham last month seemingly spelled trouble for the Robins, who were subsequently held to a 2-2 draw by Aston Villa a fortnight ago. Bristol City are now five points away from safety, and there are substantiated concerns that their nearest rivals enjoyed a stronger January transfer window than the BS3-based side.

Lauren Smith’s side haven’t been able to welcome back any returnees from injury, though they’ve unfortunately lost Abi Harrison through an ankle injury and Sarah Stratigakis to illness. Smith explained that Stratigakis ‘hasn’t been in this week, she’s been quite poorly so we’ll just see how that goes. For now it’s just this weekend but we’ll see how she feels over the next few days.’

Smith spoke in high praise of how easy it is to motivate her Robins side as they enter the final half of the season, offering her opinion that ‘it’s because results have been so close that we’ve been in games which was a different feeling from some of the games early in the season.’

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Asked about Leicester’s recruitment, Smith piled on the praise for how Willie Kirk’s has attracted top talent to the King Power Stadium. ‘Since this time last year, he’s had three windows now where he’s made huge recruitment choices to strengthen that squad,’ she said.

‘They’re a really attacking team that wants to outscore you, and quite transitional in terms of wanting to get in behind. When we played against them in our first game of the season, we learnt a few lessons there. They managed the game very well and I think he’s got his team performing in the way that he wants them to play.’

Smith insists that her side have been looking forward to the second half of the season as it gives them an opportunity to ‘replay the teams that we lost out to in almost naive ways.’

Despite a two-week gap since their last competitive outing that saw the Robins register a point against Aston Villa, Smith assured reporters that her side haven’t taken their foot off the gas at all.

‘We always want to play,’ she explained, ‘so that’s something you’ve got to wait for I guess. We’ve utilised the two weeks well, it gave us two weeks to prepare for Leicester really so we’ve had to use that to our advantage.’

‘We had an in-house game with some of the academy players stepping up at the weekend so that we remained kind of on task and fully loaded… it was absolutely stay focused and have a two-week lead into Leicester. Hopefully we can put a good performance in.’