Bristol Academy: Mark Sampson proud despite WSL title loss
Bristol Academy manager Mark Sampson says his players should take pride in their season despite missing out on the Women's Super League title.
The Vixens went in to Sunday's decider against Liverpool knowing a win would see them crowned champions.
But they lost 2-0 in Widnes and watched the Reds collect the silverware.
"The club and supporters are proud of the players and they deserve a lot of credit for what's been done this year," Sampson told BBC Radio Bristol.
"We're disappointed because we have come so far but at the final hurdle we didn't have enough to get over it.
"Some players are devastated but they have to remember what a fantastic season they've had."
Bristol only lost three games in the league campaign - twice defeated by Liverpool and once by former champions Arsenal - and also reached the FA Cup final, where they lost again to the Gunners.
"Everyone has to remember we're playing a fantastic Liverpool team," added Sampson. "They've beaten us twice and fully deserve to be champions. We have to realise what we are up against."
Bristol, who finished fourth last season, remain the only club in the WSL without an official affiliation to a men's team, although they have been boosted by a five-figure sponsorship deal with Bristol City this term.
After finishing runners-up, they have qualified for the Champions League next season for the second time in their history.
"We'll go away and regroup and look forward to what's going to happen next," said Sampson. "Our club is in a fantastic position to move forward.
"I hope the players have an element of reflection and have a lot of pride in their performance."