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2017 FA WSL 2 Spring Series Preview: Brighton & Hove Albion

Ahead of the start of the FA Women’s Super League 2 (FA WSL 2) Spring Series, Richard Laverty previews each team.


Brighton & Hove Albion Women are the newest addition to the ever-expanding FA Women’s Super League (FA WSL), promoted as playoff winners after triumphing in the FA Women’s Premier League south division in 2016.

The south coasters will certainly provide a long away day for some opponents this season but they share state-of-the-art facilities with the men’s club and opened a new academy in 2015 — they’re a team with big ideas and bigger ambitions.

Brighton lost just two games on their way to promotion and there’s no reason whatsoever the Seagulls can’t emulate the achievements of Sheffield FC during their first year in FA WSL 2. While Sheffield got no bedding in period, Brighton should be fully up to speed by the time the full season kicks off in September.

Where to Find Brighton

Culver Road, Lancing

The Boss

Anyone who followed the men’s game during the 1980s may remember George Parris, the 52-year-old made over 200 appearances for West Ham United before moving onto Birmingham City in a playing career that also took him to Brighton.

Taking over after James Marrs was sacked just a month before the playoff final, Brighton did look for a new full-time manager over the winter, speaking to former Charlton boss Keith Boanas and recently departed AFC Fylde manager Luke Swindlehurst before allowing Parris to continue into the Spring Series.

Key Players

Kate Natkiel
Few can claim to have played a larger role in Brighton’s success last season than striker Natkiel. Having only joined Brighton a year earlier after a six-year spell with Watford, Natkiel brought her goal-scoring exploits to the south coast and scored two in the playoff final, one of which certainly wouldn’t look out of place in the FA WSL.

Kirsty Barton
The experienced midfielder will provide all the experience necessary for a team making the step up to the FA WSL. After spending seven years with Chelsea, Barton joined Brighton in 2011 and has been one of the key components in the club’s rise. Barton has been voted the club’s player of the year on several occasions and should be one of the club’s key players when the season starts.

Sophie Perry
Very few players in the Brighton squad are as experienced or connected to the club as Perry — growing up in Brighton and coming through the academy before going to play for Chelsea for seven years. Now at 30, Perry has represented the Republic of Ireland and is back on the south coast for a shot at WSL glory with her home city.

One to Watch

Charlotte Owen
As a teenager, Owen was repositioned to become a striker under James Marrs and his decision was justified as Owen adapted well to her new role. Now just turned 21, Owen has all the talent to play a big role in Brighton’s team during the Spring Series. If you want to know more about what Owen can do, stick her name into YouTube and watch her backheel goal from a couple of years ago!


The club had a quiet start to the winter while the managerial issues were sorted out but since then Brighton’s business has been mightily impressive.

With a combination of big plans on and off the field, a healthy budget, and better facilities than some FA WSL 1 clubs, Brighton have proved to be an attractive option for players dropping down from FA WSL 1.

Three of their signings were at Chelsea last season: duo Jenna Legg and Laura Rafferty joined at the same time after being released by Emma Hayes while the most eye-catching signing is that of forward Alessia Russo.

The England U-17 striker starred at the U-17 World Cup at the end of last year and made her Chelsea debut in the Continental Cup. Aside from that, experienced goalkeeper Emma Byrne has joined after leaving Arsenal in another deal that will have more established clubs peeping over their shoulders at the newcomers.

Spring Series Prediction: 6th