Matt Beard: There’s still plenty of points to play for

Matt Beard

West Ham United manager Matt Beard rued the errors from set-pieces that cost his side against Reading on Sunday afternoon, but stressed that there are still plenty of Barclays FA Women’s Super League points to play for this season.

The Hammers impressed early on in a combative match at Rush Green Stadium, taking an early lead within five minutes when Katharina Baunach curled home after an indirect free-kick was awarded just inside the area.

A red card saw the visitors reduced to ten players on the stroke of half-time, before Leanne Kiernan doubled the Irons’ advantage with 65 minutes played, stabbing home a loose ball from six yards from a corner kick.

Frustratingly for the home team, however, Reading rallied, and three goals inside the last 15 minutes condemned West Ham to their fifth league defeat of the season.

Beard was frustrated to see his side fail to capitalise on such a promising position in the match, but stressed that the 

“We shouldn’t have lost the game,” Beard said afterwards. “When we went 2-0 in front, and with a player advantage, we should have been still aggressive in our play and what we were doing.

“Reading are a tough team to play against. They’re very dangerous from set plays, and two of their goals came from set plays, but we shouldn’t be losing that game today.

“There’s plenty of points still to play for. We’ve got teams in and around us, where we are right now, in December, so the key thing for me is that that we get to the Christmas break in a position where we’re in touch with the top four or five.

“We’re not just going to dwell on one or two defeats. We’ve just got to continue to move forward.”

It’s a frustrating afternoon in that sense, but we’ve just got to recover, stick together and focus on Manchester United [next weekend] now

Matt Beard

Beard was gracious in defeat on Sunday afternoon, recognising the feat achieved by Reading in mounting the comeback with a one-player disadvantage, and looked to take the positives from the match.

“It’s a tough defeat to take,” he admitted. “I think Reading deserved it for what they put into it in the last 25 minutes, but we’ve just got to stick together and have the belief that we can pick these type of points up.

“I think we’ve shown a little bit of naivety in that last 25-minute period. The one thing that Reading are is very direct in their play. If you look at the first half, we were stopping that, and I thought our first-half performance was excellent.

“We allowed them to get the ball and go forward, and it became a bit of a 50/50 game in the second [half]. Unfortunately for us, they got to the second ball for the first goal, the second ball for the third goal, and we were positionally poor for their second goal – these are the types of things we’ve got to learn from.

“It’s a frustrating afternoon in that sense, but we’ve just got to recover, stick together and focus on Manchester United [next weekend] now.”

For Beard, however, the opportunity remains to climb the Barclays FA Women’s Super League table.

“We’re a new team in this league – it’s only our second season – and Reading are an established side, like every other team in this division,” he observed. 

“We are where we are in line with how our journey’s been, but as I said, there’s still plenty of points to play for.”

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