The Liverpool FC Women were missing a couple of key players in their trip to London to face Tottenham on Sunday. Wing back Emma Koivisto and defender/holding midfielder Jasmine Matthews were both out with injuries, leading to manager Matt Beard deploying his side in a 4-3-3 rather than their typical 3-5-2. His side struggled for much of the first half with spacing and turnovers. After the match, Beard said a tactical substitution to bring on Yana Daniels as a wing back in place of striker Melissa Lawley made all the difference. Daniels sent in the cross shortly after entering the match that led to Sophie Roman-Haug’s first goal for the club.
“First half, really disappointed. We just didn’t get into a rhythm, we didn’t get in. Our positional play was poor, when we won possession back, the way we broke or the way we got into positions, we turned it over way too much. We showed them a few clips at half-time, we showed them the spaces we can exploit if we got into the positions.”
“We didn’t start the second half well either with that, so we obviously went back to the 3-5-2 that has worked well for us, and then straight away we get the goal off Yana’s cross. I thought it was a great cross because we talk about standing the crosses up from that angle, especially for Sophie because she peels off the shoulder so well. And I’m delighted for her because she had a good chance in the first half, but just for her to get the goal, I think she can relax now and it’s done and dusted.”
Beard was elated to see his Norwegian striker bag her first goal for the Reds. A broken nose on international duty kept her out of the first few matches of the season for Liverpool, and Roman-Haug has been working her way into a rhythm with her teammates in the interim. Beard has felt the quality has been there, and was rewarded with a goal to take a point on the road.
“I’ve said all along, we’ve seen it from when we watched her to recruit her, all the goals that she scores. She can score the goal she scored today, she can score tap-ins, she can score worldies, so I’ve been confident she’ll be OK. We’ve had to change the system today with losing Jas [Matthews] after Wednesday’s game. But we flipped it back 10, 15 minutes into the second half and we got the rewards for that. I was pleased with the way we finished the game. I still think we gifted them one or two opportunities that we didn’t need to gift them, so we need to tidy up on that. But overall, with the way we started the game and the way we finished, there’s obviously a lot of positives we can take and it’s another point on the road.”
Several players came off the bench to provide an impact against Spurs. Exciting youngster Mia Enderby was forced to leave the match in the first half with an injury, and Shanice van de Sanden was a force in her place. Yana Daniels provided and assist, and Missy Bo Kearns sent in a fantastic free kick that was almost turned home for the winner. When asked if he felt the strength of the squad was another key factor on the day, Beard said he felt it was.
“I think so. Obviously losing Mia in the first half as well, I don’t know what that is yet so I’ll find out shortly. Our recruitment that we did in the summer obviously allows us if we do lose players that we can bring players in. If you look at the players that I brought off the bench today; Shanice van de Sanden, Yana Daniels, [Missy] Bo Kearns, so we’re bringing top, top players off the bench to try to get us back into the game, and lucky enough for us today it worked.”
With the draw, Liverpool finish the week fifth in the WSL table. Beard’s side will travel back to London to take on league leaders Chelsea next Saturday in a match at Stamford Bridge. Liverpool are currently five points behind the Blues.