Delighted might be an understatement, but the joy that one win can bring can really bring up the whole squad. Liverpool Women hosted Tottenham Hotspur at Prenton Park last weekend and came away with all three points needed to keep them above that creeping relegation zone in the FA WSL. Despite a plethora of injuries to their own squad, a win is a win no matter how you get it.
“It goes without saying we were absolutely delighted to get the three points against Tottenham on Sunday and I felt it was well deserved,” Matt Beard wrote in his weekly column for the club website.
“I thought the performance, especially the first half, was excellent. We could have scored a lot more goals, to be honest with you.
“We had a great chance with Ceri Holland and then Katie Stengel and Yana Daniels. We had a goal disallowed which should have stood, so on another day we could have been comfortable at half-time. We played with high intensity and caused Tottenham a lot of problems and I was really pleased with that.
“In the second half, I think because of what was at stake on the day and being in front, maybe we could have managed that a little bit better. But I said to the girls after the game that the most important thing is the three points, which we got.
“We showed great character. Lawsy [Rachael Laws] was excellent, as was Robey [Leighanne Robe], Gemma [Bonner] and Meg [Megan Campbell]. They were excellent as a back three. Robey made a brilliant block in stoppage time to deny Tottenham and I was really pleased with her.
“When we’ve had these injury problems it has given other people opportunities. Me and Robey sit down every other week and she has been nothing but professional. Her last two performances have been excellent. I said to her after the Arsenal game how proud of her I was. She is a fantastic person and has performed really well these past two games.”
The return of Leighanne Robe wasn’t the only bright spot of the game, as Beard went on to praised Ceri Holland’s tireless work in the midfield,Katie Stengel’s ability to make something out of nothing and get on the scoresheet. There were also mentions for Emma Koivisto after she was able to open the scoring for the Reds, and new signing Fuka Nagano helping make the tactical change to a three in midfield more effective.
“Ceri and Katie’s performances were standout for me if I’m being honest, they were superb. I think our club tweet about Ceri’s display was brilliant but also right,” Beard continued.
“I was delighted for Emma Koivisto to get her first goal for the club and also an assist. For our first goal, I think we were due that little bit of luck at some point.
“Emma was fantastic, especially when you consider she has been ill, and I’m really pleased with her. She is a warrior. Going to a three in midfield has enabled Missy Bo Kearns to get higher up the pitch and I’ve always said she is capable of getting goals for us.
“We’ve had a little bit of teething problems adjusting to the three in midfield but we are getting there. Ceri’s pace and power gives us an added dimension, Missy Bo also loves to get forward and alongside them Fuka Nagano is just a wonderful football player, so I think we’ve got good balance in there at the moment.”
As always, it’s not a match at Prenton Park without the amazing support for the Reds, and Beard made sure to heap the praise on them as well for their part in the win, especially ahead of the upcoming Merseyside Derby at Goodison Park.
“Our supporters were fantastic once again - but they always are and that is not a surprise. I’m glad we could give them a performance and three points to go home with happy faces,” Beard added.
“It’s put us in a good position in the WSL ahead of our next game, which is the Merseyside derby, and then after that we have got a good run of games where we feel we can climb the table.”
One of the changes that Beard made ahead of the match was naming Taylor Hinds captain in the absence of Niamh Fahey. Hinds took to the role easily and Beard asserted his pride in her and the reasons behind the appointment.
“In the absence of Niamh Fahey I have handed Taylor Hinds the captain’s armband and she deserves it. First and foremost she is a great professional. She is very consistent - especially in training week in, week out - and she has got a good personality,” Beard wrote.
“When I was at Liverpool in my first spell as the manager I had leaders like Fara Williams, Natasha Dowie and Whitney Engen, but I saw something then in Gemma Bonner in terms of leadership from when I worked with her at Chelsea.
“I see similar qualities in Taylor to what Gemma has. It’s not always about shouting and screaming, it’s about doing your best and being the best day in, day out.
“I think Taylor definitely has leadership qualities and hopefully giving her the armband will help her develop as a player, give her more confidence both as a player and as a person, because we see her as one of our leaders.”
Liverpool Women play next on Friday, March 24, when they head to Goodison Park for the Merseyside Derby.