Lydia Bedford

Bedford: Pressure Off For Spurs Clash

Securing top-flight safety is an achievement all those connected to LCFC Women should be proud of, according to Lydia Bedford.
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- LCFC Women play Tottenham Hotspur on the final day of the WSL season
- Sunday's WSL clash at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is a 12pm kick-off
- Lydia Bedford addressed the media during her pre-match press conference
- The Foxes are now assured of a place in the top flight for 2022/23

Birmingham City's 6-0 defeat at Manchester City on Wednesday evening confirmed Leicester had retained their status in the Barclays FA Women's Super League, sitting five points clear of the relegation zone with one game to play.

That final fixture of 2021/22 is a trip to the impressive Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for a meeting with the Lilywhites (12pm kick-off). No longer requiring a result to ensure survival in the division, Bedford is hoping to see the side play with more freedom, which may allow them to produce a positive display.

“We’d like to finish the season with 16 points, not 13," City's manager expressed in Thursday's virtual pre-match press conference from Belvoir Drive. "Our preparations for this weekend haven’t changed one bit. Training and meetings have looked exactly the same as when we’ve walked into the door.

"The pressure is off and what I said to them is that I’m excited to see them play when there is no pressure. We want to finish this weekend with a really positive team performance, even if the result doesn't go our way."

The Foxes won't be resting on their laurels, however, as they look to back up a solid performance during last weekend's goalless draw with Reading. Having a week to prepare for the fixture could give the visitors the edge against a Spurs side who are facing their fifth game in two weeks. 

They will also take confidence from their previous visit to the capital, a 3-1 extra-time victory in the fourth round of the Vitality Women's FA Cup, when goals from Shannon O'Brien, Sophie Howard and Esmee De Graaf sealed a memorable result at The Hive.

“Under Rehanne [Skinner] and with Vicky Jepson there too, they are a well organised side with lots of potential on the ball," Bedford said, analysing the opposition. "They've got pace to be able to catch you on the counter attack. We're really expecting a tough test from them.

They should be tremendously proud of the commitment and the effort they have put in across this year to fight to stay in the WSL, a league that is getting tougher and tougher every season.

Lydia Bedford

"We met them earlier in the season in the FA Cup and again that was a game we said to go out and enjoy and we managed to scrap the result that afternoon which allowed us to progress.

"It's probably good to meet them on the final day because what they’ve done this season has really solidified themselves in the WSL and crept up that table. That's something we want to aim to do ourselves next year.

"If we can see where we were when we played them in late January, through to where we are now, then hopefully we’re looking for progression on the pitch. They've clearly had a lot of games to play in the last two weeks too, so hopefully the freshness that we carry into this weekend helps."

Now assured of a place in the top-flight for a second successive year, the 35-year-old assessed the team's season as a whole and the learnings that they can take forward into the next campaign.

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Leicester City fans
Leicester City fans

Fans young and old have turned up in their numbers to support the Foxes.

“I’m really pleased for the staff and the players here at Leicester," the former England international youth coach commented. "I said to the players this morning, they’ve had these emotions all year, they’ve dealt with the lows and the highs.

"Although it probably wasn’t the way we wanted it to happen last night, when everyone’s at home, not together and not dictated by one of our results, it’s still a brilliant achievement for the Club in their first season in the WSL.

"They should be tremendously proud of the commitment and the effort they have put in across this year to fight to stay in the WSL, a league that is getting tougher and tougher every season. We’ve got the youngest average age in the league.

"What is most pleasing is that now we’ve stabilised and we’ve got a platform to build on, the players that will hopefully be here for a number of years and can really grow as they become more experienced in the WSL."

She also praised the group's and application since her arrival in late 2021, aiding the team's ascent off the foot of the table through four crucial victories picked up, including three in front of the home support.

The support that we get at our home stadium when we play at King Power Stadium is exceptional, it’s probably one of the best turnouts for games in the WSL.

Lydia Bedford

Bedford added: “It definitely teaches them with how to deal with the emotion from game to game and the fact that we’ve had to almost go through a game-by-game approach since December and not get too far ahead of ourselves in terms of worrying too much about other results, but focusing on what we’re good at doing.

"When I reflect on the games where we did well and got results, sometimes the whole game didn't quite look like the result might have done. But equally, there were some games that we felt we were really competitive and lost out.

"It’s about taking the learnings from all of those experiences. As a team in the WSL, if you can be diligent in your preparation, if you can have players who work hard and work for each other, you’ve got half a chance against most of the teams in this league.

"And if you look at the progression this season that the team has made and the support that we get at our home stadium when we play at King Power Stadium, it's exceptional, it’s probably one of the best turnouts for games in the WSL."

All times BST.

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