The Liverpool FC Women had a very tough draw in their FA Cup fourth round match up, taking on a Chelsea side that was on a 17 match unbeaten run. The last team to beat Chelsea was...Liverpool on the opening day of the season.
Matt Beard’s squad put forth a valiant effort, especially in the second half, but fell just short in a 3-2 loss. After the match, the Liverpool manager shared both some frustrations as well as some confidence. First off, Beard was unhappy with some of the refereeing decisions, especially with two no-calls on what he felt were fouls on midfielder Ceri Holland on sequences that led to Chelsea goals.
“I was frustrated with a few things. For Chelsea’s second goal there was a foul on Ceri Holland in the build-up, and the third goal there was also a foul on Ceri. I felt we should have had a penalty for a handball, so that was frustrating. Still, we’ve got to do better defending the crosses because Sam is such a good finisher.”
For the actual match play, Beard felt his side really showed up in the second half. Unfortunately, they struggled to get things going in the first half as we’ve seen many times this season, leading to an early deficit.
“We can take a lot of confidence and positivity, especially from our second-half performance. We just looked scared in the first half and that was frustrating because we have trained really well in the week. That was our Achilles heel in the first half, but I thought it was a good cup tie, a good game and congratulations to Chelsea and good luck to them in the next round.”
Beard felt the change in formation to a 3-5-2 midway through the second half also helped. Tactically, pushing Melissa Lawley into a more central area got her on the ball more in dangerous areas, and it almost paid off late in the match.
“We changed our system and went to a 3-5-2 and we were a bit more aggressive. We gave a really good account of ourselves in the second half and made it a good cup tie. We put Mel Lawley a bit more central and she caused them a lot of problems and she nearly scored right at the end when their ‘keeper made a good save.”
One additional bit of news was the severity of Shanice van de Sanden’s injury. The forward hurt her knee while warming up on the frozen pitch ahead of what became a match abandoned less than 6 minutes in the week before due to the pitch conditions. It’s not good news, with the Dutchwoman expected to miss a significant chunk of action. It seems that the club is looking for reinforcements up top if they get find someone.
“Unfortunately, we have lost Shanice for anywhere up to two months, which is a massive blow. We are looking for another attacking player if we can get someone in before the window closes. It’s a tough position to fill in January. We are hopeful we can get one in, but if we can’t then we will work with what we’ve got.”