Brighton & Hove Albion women finished off their Women’s Super League 2 season off in style as they beat Sheffield Ladies 3-1 in front of 1,279 fans at the Amex stadium on Sunday afternoon.
It was a dominant display from Brighton as first-half goals from Kate Natkiel and an own-goal from Kenedy Owen, and a special goal from Alessia Russo in the final stages capped off a great afternoon for the Seagulls.
As for Sheffield, Brighton was too strong for them on this occasion. But Carla Ward did add a penalty late on, but the game was already won for the home side.
It was a good start for Brighton as they looked to take the game to Sheffield, and in the early stages they were far more composed, and if the shooting boots of Lucy Somes and Laura Rafferty were there, Brighton might have added an early goal to their dominance.
Sheffield was struggling to get into the contest and in the 13th minute, Brighton should have found the net through Russo. The club captain, Sophie Perry played a lovely ball through to Natkiel who then presented Russo with a glorious chance but the forward fired wide with the goal at her mercy.
With Sheffield struggling to get into the game, Natkiel punished their laborious approach and scored a fabulous goal in the 23rd minute.
Russo, who missed a guilt edge chance shortly before was the provider, as she put in a superb cross. But it was all about Natkiel as she volleyed home into the bottom corner with nonchalant ease. And quite frankly it was no more than Brighton deserved from their industrious and adventurous play in the opening 25 minutes.
It was one-way traffic, as Brighton doubled their lead shortly after their first through a combination of Charlotte Young and Sheffield’s Owen. Perry floated in a corner and the defender attacked the ball, but it seemed the last touch did indeed come off of Owen.
Sheffield rallied after the interval as they looked to plot a route back in the game, by trying to pressure the Brighton backline. But on the break Brighton showed what could potentially happen with the likes of Russo and Natkiel.
Russo, who had been a livewire throughout the game, showcased a brilliant bit of skill on the halfway line to get away from Danielle Cox, but the final ball was wayward.
Brighton were really turning the screw and some lovely build-up play involving the skipper Perry nearly saw Russo get on the score sheet, but the intervention from Sheffield’s Sarah Jackson was crucial.
Every time Sheffield came forward and left some space at the back, Brighton looked to punish them. And again Russo was central to it. The forward had a glorious chance to make it 3-0 after she superbly spun away from Cox. But he shot was well saved Juliana Draycott in goal.
Brighton was firmly in control, and after Russo’s chance, the first goal scorer Natkiel had another effort well saved by Draycott as Brighton looked to put some much deserved gloss on the scoreline.
In the closing stages, Russo finally got the goal her terrific forward play deserved with what was the goal of the game. With seemingly nothing on, Russo picked up the ball on the edge of the area and unleashed a curling effort which sailed past Draycott into the top corner.
With the game entering the 90 minutes, Sheffield was awarded a fairly soft penalty in which Ward duly dispatched to make it 3-1.
Brighton: E. Byrne (F. Baker), S. Perry (c), L. Rafferty, V. Ashton-Jones, A. Russo, K. Barton, K. Natkiel, L. Somes (E. Dorey), B. Thomas (C. Boswell), C. Young, H. Olding
Substitutes: A. Taylor
Sheffield: J. Draycott, S. Jackson, H. Housley, D. Cox, H. Dale, C. Ward (c), R. Lord-Mears (N. Flint), H. Cain, S. Davies (C. Dixon), E. Johnson, K. Owen (K. Anderson)