Beard: We were excellent from start to finish


Seven goals for his West Ham United team, a clean sheet, and two players with long-term injuries back in his side. 

It's easy to see why head coach Matt Beard enjoyed Wednesday’s thumping win over Crystal Palace. 

The Irons put on an attacking masterclass as Leanne Kiernan, Laura Vetterlein and Adriana Leon gave the home side a 3-0 lead at half-time against the Eagles in the FA Women’s Continental League Cup, before braces for both Kenza Dali and substitute Kate Longhurst ensured a fantastic end to 2019 at Rush Green Stadium for West Ham.

While results elsewhere conspired to eliminate the Hammers from the Continental League Cup in the group stages, Beard could find a lot of positives in his team’s efforts in the cold midweek fixture.

Come the back end of the game we looked like we were enjoying it. We were creating chances and we had good interchanging movement. It was really good to see

Matt Beard

“From start to finish, I thought we were excellent,” Beard told “I felt, in the first 15 to 20 minutes, we were probably a little bit too slow to move the ball, but we were trying to find our way into the game. 

“We went back to the 3-4-3 tonight and it was good to see that we played with good intensity. I felt we dominated with and without the ball. We forced them into a lot of turnovers. 

“Come the back end of the game we looked like we were enjoying it. We were creating chances and we had good interchanging movement. It was really good to see. We’re delighted with the performance. We’ve got different players who have chipped in with goals tonight as well, which is good for them.”

For the first time since becoming West Ham head coach last summer, Beard was able to name a full, seven-player bench on Wednesday, as a number of injured players made their respective returns. 

Esmee de Graaf made her first West Ham start since returning from an ACL injury sustained last December, while Julia Simic made her first Irons appearance in 364 days, having last pulled on the Claret and Blue in the same midweek cup contest this time last year.

De Graaf


Beard was absolutely delighted to see the duo return to action and hailed the efforts of the medical team, physiotherapist Elena Jobson and sports therapist Jackson Bradley in guiding both De Graaf and Simic back from serious setbacks.

“Esmee and Julia are such fantastic characters,” he continued: “They’re the heart and the soul of our team with regard to their personalities. They have both worked incredibly hard. 

“Esmee's has been gradual progress over the last six to eight weeks. For her to complete 90 minutes tonight, I thought she was excellent; it’s good for me because she’s such a versatile player as well. 

“It’s been an emotional rollercoaster for Julia. Would she play again? Would she not play again? Jacko and EJ deserve a lot of credit. They’ve done a lot of work with Sici. It was great to see her back on that pitch and the smile on her face after the game. 

“Regardless of what’s happened tonight with regards to the Chelsea and Reading game, and not getting into the knock-out stages, you could just see for the team in the huddle at the end of the game what it meant for them to have those two back on the pitch.”