Willie Kirk: Bristol Academy hopes hinge on relegated mentality

By Andrew AloiaBBC Sport
Bristol Academy
Bristol Academy have won just once in the league this season

Boss Willie Kirk says Bristol Academy must play as if they have already been relegated from Women's Super League One to have a chance of survival.

Saturday's 3-0 loss to Birmingham City saw Bristol slip five points adrift of safety with two games left.

To stay up, Bristol need to beat title-chasing Manchester City and Liverpool and hope Blues fail to pick up a point.

"We need to play as if we are already down and play with some freedom," Kirk told BBC Sport.

"Hopefully, the pressure of chasing the title gets to Manchester City. If we manage to get three points, we keep it alive."

Liverpool, who are out of title contention, travel to Bristol on the final day of the season and just four days before they begin their Champions League away to Italian side Brescia.

Pointless and goalless so far
So far this season Bristol Academy have failed to score a goal or take a point against Manchester City and Liverpool - two sides they now need to beat to have any chance of WSL 1 survival.

Kirk said that his players will not accept the prospect of relegation until survival is mathematically beyond their reach.

"Realistically it is very tough, but there is no way the girls will allow me to say we are down," he added.

"It you look at their effort on the pitch it is obvious the girls won't accept it.

"The frustrating thing is that it is out of our hands now and when it is out of your hands, it is very difficult."

With a superior goal difference, a point for Birmingham City against either Notts County at Meadow Lane or title-chasing Arsenal on the final day of the season will be enough to condemn Bristol to relegation.

But Bristol captain Sophie Ingle insisted hope was not lost and predicted Birmingham will feel the weight of trying to secure a point from their last two games to assure their own safety.

"Definitely it is still possible," said Ingle. "There will be more pressure on them because they know they need need just one point."

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