Ebony Salmon has backed Bristol City to use their long overdue first Barclays FA WSL win of the season as a springboard to a great escape from relegation and potentially some silverware to boot.
The 20-year-old striker has been a shining light amid City’s struggles and netted twice in the 3-0 weekend win over Brighton as Matt Beard’s side finally took all three points at the 12th time of asking, taking her own tally for the season to nine goals in all competitions.
The victory came at a perfect time to give the Robins a lift going into a hectic period of games – starting with the visit of Leicester in Wednesday night’s Conti Cup semi-final.
City have never won a major domestic trophy - although they are two-time Women's FA Cup runners-up - and Salmon hopes they can keep their momentum going in a competition which has provided a much-needed morale boost through some difficult spells this term.
“Until Saturday, we hadn’t had the best results in the league, so the cup run has given us a lot of confidence where we haven’t otherwise had it,” said Salmon, who has scored four goals in as many games in her side’s run to the last four.
“A semi-final is a great opportunity. We know it’s going to be a tough game – Leicester are top of the Championship and they are a good side – but we have to keep doing what we did on Saturday and push for more.
“The win (against Brighton) was massive for us. The performance and the result show we are not down just because we are at the bottom of the table, which I think a lot of people on the outside were saying.
“We have shown that it’s not done yet and there’s a long way to go.”
Saturday’s victory was City’s first under Beard, who took charge on January 15 following the start of Tanya Oxtoby’s maternity leave.
His introduction on an interim basis has gone down well with Salmon, who credited the former West Ham boss with raising standards within the squad.
“He has pushed up the quality and intensity in training and I think that showed in the performance on Saturday,” she said.
“Tanya and Matt have brought different things out of me as a player – they see me in different ways in terms of how they see me fitting in to the team and what they see me doing.
“I owe a lot to Tanya for giving me the chance to come here and she boosted my confidence a lot after a season where I wasn’t really playing.
“Tanya built my confidence and allowed me to perform as I have been and Matt has come in and built on that. He has pushed me even further.”
City’s Conti Cup semi-final begins a busy spell of three games in a week, with WSL trips to West Ham and Tottenham following quickly afterwards.
With the Hammers one of two sides within touching distance of the Robins in the relegation battle, City have the incentive of knowing a second successive league win this weekend would take them off the foot of the table.
“As much as it’s not the position you want to be in, we were in a similar position last season and we managed to stay up,” Salmon said.
“A lot of the squad look back and think ‘we’ve done it before, there’s no reason we can’t do it again’.
“We have quite a few leaders in our team. As much as I am a young player, we have quite a young squad so I don’t think that’s a reason for me not to be one of the leaders.
“We’ve got to go into every game with the mentality we can win it. There have been shock results throughout the season and you never know what’s going to happen in this league.”