Matt Beard is proud of his side for their hard-fought win against Durham, as the battle of two sides at the top of the table ended with Liverpool top.
While the match looked decisively won, with two scored and a clean sheet, the goals came in the second half. The Reds find themselves in the pole position, but Beard is quick to emphasize how early it is in the season during his postmatch press conference.
It’s a great result for us, but I said before the game and I’ve said it over the course of the first half of the season that we just need to be in and around the top group come Christmas.
We’ve put ourselves in front now but there’s still a long way to go, we’ve got to keep our feet on the floor.
While Beard cautions perspective, he does emphasize the quality of the performance, which led to the Reds getting their “just rewards.” He was pleased that the players were well-equipped to deal with Durham’s style of play, and, while the goals came in the second half, was especially pleased by how the Reds started:
I think if you look at our first-half performance, that’s probably one of our best performances. I think we stopped them playing, we unsettled them, you could see them getting frustrated.
They’re physical and we’ve put the players under a bit of stress this week because we knew we’d be kicked, we knew it would be a bit of a battle, first balls, second balls. We prepared for that this week and I felt we dealt with their physicality brilliantly.
I didn’t realize how small this pitch was, length and width-wise, so yaou can see why they win a lot of games here because they are very direct. It’s about crosses, it’s about defending, about getting corners and winning set plays.
I felt we were fantastic on that, especially the corners coming in, because they’re a big side. I think they’ve scored 70% of their goals this year from set plays, so I felt we dealt with them fantastically.
This adaptability shows the hunger of this Liverpool side: it’s one thing to be able to beat your rivals by out-playing them, or by forcing them to play a match on your terms.
It speaks well to this Liverpool side that they were able to decisively beat a very good Durham side by taking them on at their own game — and nullifying their game plan at home. Matt Beard us right to praise this aspect of his side’s game, as it’s an element that helps get teams promoted.