Bristol City relegated from WSL following Manchester City defeat

  • Bristol City suffered a disappointing 4-0 loss at the hands of Manchester City on Sunday night
  • Defeat confirms Bristol City's fate as they're relegated from the WSL for the second time in three years
  • Lauren Smith hopes to lead the rebuild as they look to come back stronger next season in the Championship
Bristol City's relegation from the WSL was confirmed on Sunday night following defeat to Manchester City
Bristol City's relegation from the WSL was confirmed on Sunday night following defeat to Manchester City / Ryan Hiscott/GettyImages

Bristol City have been relegated from the Barclays Women’s Super League following their 4-0 defeat to Manchester City at Ashton Gate on Sunday evening.

Lauren Smith’s side have resided at the bottom of the table for the majority of the campaign having secured just one win so far. If they were to have any hope of mustering up some form of a comeback late on, they needed to secure all three points against a high-flying Manchester City team.

The first-half at Ashton Gate presented plenty of positives for the hosts as they kept Manchester City at arm's length and had a handful of opportunities themselves. Despite seeing very little possession, Smith’s side frustrated their opponents and they deserved to be level at the break.

Normally, a hard-fought draw would be a positive result against far superior opposition, but in the fight against relegation, it wouldn’t be good enough. The hosts had to go for the win and that was evident in the half-time changes as Carrie Jones and Abi Harrison came on for Amalie Thestrup and Ffion Morgan. 

Manchester City’s domination continued in the second-half, but it took something special from Mary Fowler to finally peg Bristol City back. The Australia international unleashed a fierce effort from the edge of the box that flew beyond goalkeeper Shae Yanez.

Fowler then finished a second a little over ten minutes later from a dangerous ball in from Hemp. Amy Rodgers scored an unfortunate own goal for the third that put Bristol City’s relegation beyond doubt.

Due to Manchester City’s need to increase their goal difference, they kept pushing for a fourth and it paid off deep into stoppage time. Bristol City failed to defend a corner and Alex Greenwood’s headed effort just about crossed the line.

Alex Greenwood
Alex Greenwood scores Manchester City's fourth goal against Bristol City / Ryan Hiscott/GettyImages

"We've been sat at the bottom of the table for the season," Smith told Sky Sports post-match. "It's always been a mountain to climb and we know that's what we’ve been fighting against.

"Some of the performances we've been really proud of, but we still haven't got results from. Even tonight, up until the 60th minute, I was really proud of how we defended.

"We've shown up, but we haven't shown up for 90 minutes week in, week out."

Bristol City have been here before when they were relegated from the WSL in 2021 under interim manager Matt Beard. Smith took charge shortly after and led the previous rebuild - she hopes to do the same this time around.

"We have to start looking at what next year looks like," she continued. "I'll be working with the chairman to ensure we do what we need to do to make sure we're stronger next year."

"We have to continue to build. That's on the pitch and off the pitch. Also, to make sure our fanbase is as incredible as it is right now. All of us as a club are a part of that and we will be looking to make sure we continue this trend and excitement around women's football in Bristol."