The Liverpool Women face what is likely their most important match so far this upcoming Sunday when they head to Durham. A top of the table battle with only a single point separating both clubs at the moment - it would be easy to get caught up in the narrative of that. It would also be easy to get dragged down by the inability to capitalize on everyone else dropping points last weekend as Liverpool were only held to a draw.
Manager Matt Beard, though, is trying to keep everyone grounded in his latest column.
“A few teams dropped points on Sunday and Durham lost to Crystal Palace. I’ve said it all along: it’s not going to be a foregone conclusion for anyone this season,” Beard wrote. “If you look at us, Durham and London City Lionesses, there is a little bit of a gap. We lost to London City Lionesses and drew with Bristol City and now Blackburn.
“Like I said from day one, our season is not going to be defined by the opening-day defeat to London City or the draw with Blackburn. It’s another positive performance and we’ve just got to continue to make sure that we continue to pick points up - whether it’s one or the three points. That is all we can do.”
Liverpool have done well to keep up the pressure on the rest of the league, as they continue their unbeaten streak towards that all important top spot for promotion. Durham are top of the table for a reason, and Beard recognizes that for all of Liverpool’s strengths, Sunday will be a challenge for them.
“Durham are a very well-organised side and I am expecting a very tough game on Sunday. They are consistent year in, year out, and their manager Lee Sanders has done an amazing job over time,” the manager continued. “We are just one point behind them in the league and we will go there full of confidence and nine games unbeaten.
“People might say this is a massive game with it being first against second and just one point in it, but there is a long way to go and this game will not define the season.
“It’s about us just being in that position when we break for Christmas. That is then the business end of the season and when it all matters. I’ve said to the players: we need to ensure that when it comes to that Christmas break, we need to be in and around the top group, and then we can really kick on in the New Year.”
Unfortunately without more teams to play against in the league, the Women’s season will always be shorter compared to the men’s and the winter break will be more beneficial to them - even as a number of injured players work towards their return. That break is likely too soon for the injured Rylee Foster, but two other players may be available for the back end of the season.
“We have a few players out at the moment injured and that is why it’s so important we have such a good squad, which I’m really happy with. Our striker Rianna Dean is a few weeks away from returning and we are hoping Charlotte Wardlaw will be back soon,” Beard continued.
“Charlotte is getting there and hopefully she will be back on the pitch for us very soon. On Sunday it was fantastic to see our goalkeeper Rylee Foster back with us watching the game and she got a brilliant reception from our fans at Prenton Park. Rylee is in a good place personally, especially after what she has been through.”
All eyes towards Sunday now and hopefully Liverpool can take a two point jump over Durham and the top spot in the league.