Beard: Flaherty is the best ball-playing centre-back I’ve worked with

Gilly scores


Matt Beard has heaped praise on captain Gilly Flaherty after the centre-back’s first goal for West Ham United in Sunday’s 1-1 draw to Chelsea Women.

Flaherty rose highest to head home a leveller on 66 minutes for the Irons at Kingsmeadow, earning the Hammers a point against her former side. 

Having worked with Flaherty at Chelsea, signing the No5 to West Ham and making her captain, head coach Beard knows the defender’s qualities better than most, and believes the 27-year-old has been sensational all season.

Gilly has been fantastic all season. She's the best ball-playing centre-back I've ever worked with.

Matt Beard

“Gilly has been fantastic all season,” Beard told West Ham TV. “I’m surprised she’s not in the England squad, if I’m being really honest. 

“I’ve worked with some very good centre-backs in my time, and on the ball, she’s the best ball-playing centre-back I’ve ever worked with. She gets in great positions defensively, and she deserved that goal. She’s deserved it all season. 

Support our side in the SSE Women's FA Cup semi-finals - get your tickets now!

“It’s funny, because she scored from a corner in a behind-closed doors game the other day. Leanne [Kiernan] did well to keep it and a great delivery at the far post, and right place, right time. It was a fully deserved goal for Gilly.”

Flaherty’s finish ensured a share of the spoils for West Ham after Bethany England had put Chelsea ahead in this weekend’s FA Women’s Super League fixture. 

Beard is thrilled his side were able to take a point from a tough game against a side that secured their place in the Champions League semi-finals this week.



He continued: “This is a great point for us. We rode our luck a little bit in the first half but I think the changes we made at half-time made us a little bit more difficult to break down. 

“Even in the first half, I felt we started the game well, and we stayed in our shape, but we were too worried about Chelsea’s movement. We started to get pulled out of position, which wasn’t what we wanted. We wanted to be compact and we’ve worked on that this week. 

“From that perspective, I’m really pleased with the second half. We gave a good account of ourselves today and we’ll certainly take a point.

“There’s no point coming here, playing one of the top teams, and not having a go. More importantly, we’re a good team and we’ve got some really good players. I just want them to trust themselves a bit more and get at our opponents. We did that a lot better in the second half. I felt we were excellent in that second half.”