West Ham United’s failure to make the right choices in the final third was the pivotal factor in Monday’s defeat to Liverpool, according to head coach Matt Beard.
Courtney Sweetman-Kirk’s 48th minute finish was the only goal of the game at Prenton Park, pushing a third consecutive league defeat on the Hammers.
The Irons came close on a number of occasions, but Beard has bemoaned his team’s decision-making, saying West Ham failed to capitalise on their breaks.
If you don’t make the right decisions in the final third, whether it’s a cross or a strike, then you’re going to get punished.
“We’re frustrated and disappointed with the goal we conceded,” Beard said. “We didn’t put the pressure on the ball in behind. We didn’t deal with it and I’m frustrated.
“We should have stopped the pass for their goal and we didn’t do it. We switched off. No one tracked Laura Coombe’s run. We were too narrow and it was easy for Liverpool. We said at half-time that we needed to get in better positions and not force passes through ten Liverpool bodies.
“In the final third, we got into some good positions, but we didn’t quite make the right decisions. Obviously, their goalkeeper made a couple of good saves, but if you don’t make the right decisions in the final third; whether it’s a cross or a strike, then you’re going to get punished.”
Having won their final four games in 2018, the Irons have now suffered four defeats in their first four matches of 2019, and Beard believes an absence of key players at crucial moments have played a huge part in those losses.
The head coach reckons the team still have enough quality to win games, but failed to show it against Liverpool.
He continued: “We’ve been up and down all year. It’s been well documented that we’ve had injury issues. Julia Simic is a big miss for us, after winning Player of the Month for December. Claire Rafferty is a miss for us as well.
“When we lose key players, it does hurt us, but I do feel we’ve got enough quality in our squad to win games like this one. It came down to the final third; they took their chance and we didn’t.”
With an FA Cup match with Blackburn Rovers Ladies set for Sunday, Beard has now called on his side to show their best when they return to action at Rush Green Stadium at the weekend.
“We’ve had to juggle lots of things over the course of the season and I’ve just said to the girls after the match that we can’t let the season fizzle out,” he added. “We’ve still got the FA Cup to play in and a good run of games to come.
“I think it’s going to be important to show our character going forward, and learn from these moments. We have to keep improving.”