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Beard Report: We Have Five Cup Finals Left To Play

Every match counts, even when you play the same opponent twice in one week, when you’re going for promotion.

Tottenham Hotspur Women v Liverpool Women - FA Women’s Continental Tyres League Cup Quarter Final Photo by Liverpool FC/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

The season is heading into the home stretch for Liverpool FC Women, with only five matches left. While they may have a decent gap at the top of the table, every match counts now as they march towards promotion and regaining a spot in the FA Women’s Super League.

Those points were added to last Sunday with a late win against Charlton Athletic at their home stadium - in what manager Matt Beard called a “season defining moment” in his column this week. Charlton Athletic now come to Prenton Park this coming Sunday, potentially looking to spoil a party for our unbeaten team.

“It was a big win for us last Sunday when Jasmine Matthews scored a brilliant late header and it maintains our seven-point lead at the top of the FA Women’s Championship,” Beard began.

“We had two tough back-to-back games in London against London City Lionesses and Charlton Athletic Women. I changed our system against Charlton because we felt we were a little bit too open against London City. Charlton do like to play but they can also be quite direct as well, so we just wanted to have that extra midfield player in there, but when we made changes in the second half with Melissa Lawley and Charlotte Wardlaw coming on the game opened up for us.

“The way we finished the game, I always felt there was only going to be one winner. Taylor Hinds had a good chance, Yana Daniels had a good effort well saved, and then we scored from the corner. I felt we finished the stronger of the two sides. Charlton are a good team. On paper they probably have one of the best squads in the division but football isn’t won on paper and for us it’s about picking results up at this stage of the season. That goal from Jas could be season-defining, you never know.”

Liverpool have still only lost one match in the league so far, with that loss coming at the beginning of the season, but that doesn’t mean they’re in the clear yet. Especially as they prepare to face Charlton again, this time on their home turf and with their home fans.

“We are back at Prenton Park on Sunday when we host Charlton Athletic again and we are looking forward to it back in front of our own supporters again,” Beard continued.

“There’s a different pressure on us at the moment because we are in the position every other team in the division wants to be in. We are 16 games unbeaten in this league now, which is very pleasing.

“We’ve got five cup finals left to play now. These games will be edgy at times but I have every faith in these players. Our fans have been absolutely brilliant, they are unbelievable, and they were singing their hearts out again at Charlton last Sunday.”

Of course, the biggest concern at the moment, outside of the upcoming matches, is the loss of Leighanne Robe to injury, tempered only by the potential return of forward Rianna Dean. Robe has been incredibly instrumental in the defense this season, so an early return for her would be the best case scenario.

“On the injury front, Rianna Dean has been missing for a while with a foot problem and it has been really frustrating for her and for us,” the manager added.

“She has had an injection and it’s now about building the tolerance back on her foot. She took a big step this week by returning to the grass and I’m hoping in the next couple of weeks she will be back in team training. Rianna has been really unfortunate as she also had an issue with her calf and her heel but hopefully that is all sorted now because she has just been very unlucky because one injury has led to another, and that’s virtually the season.

“Everyone is working incredibly hard with her, Rianna has been really supportive of the team and we are trying to integrate her back with the group. Leighanne Robe is working hard and typical Robey, she is ahead of schedule and she is strong as an ox. She is working incredibly hard to get back as quick as she can.”

All eyes now on Sunday and winning all five of those “cup finals” to regain our rightful spot in the FA WSL (and that broadcasting money!).