Manager Sampson wants a fast start to the season from Vixens
MARK Sampson believes Bristol Academy have to make a strong start to their home campaign if they are to be successful next season.
The Vixens were finally handed their schedule for the FA Women's Super League this week, and have been handed a clutch of matches on their own soil early in the campaign.
Although they don't yet know who they will face in the fifth round of the FA Women's Cup, five of their opening six matches are set to take place at the Stoke Gifford Stadium.
It means five of their last seven games after the mid-season break will be away, which Sampson knows will present a challenging end to the campaign.
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"Because we have so many home games early on, it's going to be important that we try and get some early momentum going," said head coach Sampson.
Sampson, pictured, is expected to complete another new signing this weekend – he has been targeting both a striker and a defender – but remains open-minded on how to fill the gap created by midfielder Jess Fishlock's impending departure to America.
The Wales international flies out to join Seattle Reign next month after agreeing a deal with the National Women's Soccer League outfit, who are now managed by former Arsenal boss Laura Harvey.
"We need to look at our options both within our existing squad and outside it," said Sampson.
"There are a number of young players here and it may be that Jess leaving will provide an opportunity for one of them to step up."
Bristol Ladies' Union returned to the top the SW Women's League Premier Division after a 5-0 win at bottom club Stoke Lane Athletic.
And head coach believes new signing Katy-May O'Hara-Nash – who scored on her debut – can become a major player for the side.
Recruited after a spell with Spanish Liga side UD Las Palmas, O'Hara-Nash blasted home BLU's second strike of the game in the 72nd minute to spark a late flurry of goals from the visitors. Amy Caswell had given them an interval lead, with Natalia Debek, Cheryl Baber and Jess Harris completing the scoring.
It was only the second game BLU have played so far in 2013 after a rash of weather-enforced postponements, and Sears was delighted to see his side leapfrog title rivals Larkhall Athletic, who now lie three points adrift, but have two games in hand.
"I had planned to put Katy into defence to add some much-needed pace and strength," said Sears.
"But we had illness and injury issues and she did a super job in the middle of the park when asked.
"Her work rate is phenomenal and she has raised the bar for the many of the players."
Brislington will be home to either Yeovil Town or Larkhall in the semi-finals of the Somerset FA Women's Senior Cup after triumphing 4-2 over Bishops Lydeard in extra-time. The tie had been deadlocked at 2-2 after 90 minutes, but Sophie Whelan's hat-trick and a Hayley James goal saw the home side through.