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Womens Football News Archive - 26th June 2003


Siobhan Melia After two seasons in the top flight of women's football, Brighton & Hove Albion were relegated back into the Southern Division of the Premier League after having finished in sixth the previous campaign. In the coming season, the Seagulls will be members of what looks to be a very tough division and also face four eagerly anticipated local derby matches against their South Coast rivals, Southampton Saints and Portsmouth.
Brighton midfielder Siobhan Melia, speaking to Women's Soccer Scene, has reflected on the past year for her side and revealed she is looking forward to those derby games.
So how difficult has the past season been ?
"It was a very tough season for us last year for a number of different reasons. The league was certainly stronger, with Fulham and Birmingham gaining promotion, but this was also compounded by the fact that most teams were able to pay their players. We were not in a financial position to do that, which prevented us from attracting new players to strenghthen our squad. This was particularly a problem, as we lost 4 or 5 key players in the first couple of months of the season, and were never able to replace them.
"Although the league was strong, we fell short by not getting three points in the games that we dominated. We lost to some teams as a result of our own errors, and were never able to recover. As the season progressed and the pressure mounted, winning games became increasingly difficult."
Behind runaway Champions Bristol Rovers, the battle for second place in the Southern Division was incredibly tight and was only decided on goals scored. With Southampton and Brighton coming down, and with two strong teams promoted into the division in the shape of Portsmouth and Watford, the division looks like being particularly tough this time around. Siobhan is not being drawn on whether her team can go back up at the first attempt.
"Promotion??...that word is banned! We are not even thinking about promotion at the moment! For the past 3 or 4 years we have either been battling to get out of the Southern division, or battling to stay in the Premier Division. Next year is about enjoying football again - that is the clear message from our manager!"
So will you all be looking forward to your four South Coast derby matches next season ?
"Yes, the reduction in travelling will be nice. It sometimes felt like another job when we were travelling all weekend just for a 90 minute match, it will be great to have some more local fixtures again."

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