West Ham United manager Matt Beard believes his side’s hard-fought draw at Liverpool demonstrated their pragmatism in the face of pressure.
Looking to build on their last-minute 3-2 win over Manchester United in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League last weekend, the Irons got off to the perfect start on Merseyside; Adriana Leon’s smartly-taken goal putting them ahead after just five minutes.
The Hammers looked comfortable for much of the first half and had chances to extend their lead, but the hosts came fighting back in the second period in search of an equaliser.
We’ve had to show a different side of our game. We’ve ended up having to show a really gritty side to our performance
Niamh Charles’ goal from a contentious position eventually broke the Hammers resistance deep in the second half, meaning the match finished all square, but Beard spoke with pride after the game in his side’s defensive diligence.
“I’m frustrated on numerous levels,” the manager told whufc.com afterwards. “I thought we started the game excellently and if we could, when we were on top, have got that second goal, then the game would’ve been over.
“It’s a game we should be winning one hundred per cent, but you’re not guaranteed to win football matches. You’ve got to earn the right. I thought we were excellent first half.
“In the second half, credit to Liverpool – they put us under pressure. We haven’t been poor today. We’ve had to show a different side of our game. We’ve ended up having to show a really gritty side to our performance.
“Liverpool were very direct and put us under a lot of pressure. They’re a big side and they’ve got pace in their team, especially in the front areas. I thought Mel Lawley for them was excellent and caused us a lot of problems, but we’ve shown a lot of character against them.”
While the Hammers can consider themselves unfortunate to have left Prenton Park with only a solitary point, Beard feels that his side’s last two displays have been encouraging.
He and his side will now focus on hosting Crystal Palace at Rush Green Stadium in the Continental League Cup on Wednesday evening, before next weekend’s trip to Bristol City – their final fixture prior to the Christmas break.
“From my perspective now we’ve beaten Man United and got a point here,” Beard explained.
“We need a result to go our way on Wednesday, which I hope will prove the case so we can then progress in the tournament, and then we’ll turn our attention to Bristol.”