Matt Beard highlighted his West Ham United team’s character and mental fortitude as crucial factors in the side’s comeback 2-1 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion.
Two late Alisha Lehmann goals turned things around on Sunday at Rush Green Stadium, after Brighton took a first-half lead through Danique Kerkdijk’s close-range header.
Beard always believed this match was a must-win game for the Hammers and, having admitted to a tactical error in the first half, the head coach could not be happier with his players’ response in the second.
We’ve ended up turning it around and the girls have shown terrific character and a strong mentality to get back into the game. It was an important win.
“We had to win today, Beard said. “Especially with Bristol City and Liverpool playing each other, it was important that we got the three points and put some distance between us, those teams, and Brighton as well.
“I got it wrong in the first half with the shape, which we changed in the second half. I thought we did a lot better in the second period. We showed great character, once we got the equaliser, to go on and get the victory.
“It’s so important we won today. We worked so hard this week. We worked on the 3-5-2 all week but we lost Martha on Friday and then Laura on Saturday, so I changed my mind and I regret doing that.
“We’ve ended up turning it around and the girls have shown terrific character and a strong mentality to get back into the game and go onto win and see it out. It was an important win.”
Lehmann’s instinctual equaliser on 80 minutes was quickly followed by a cool finish just a few moments later, sending Rush Green Stadium mad with happiness as the three points were secured for the home side.
Beard was thrilled with the Swiss internaional’s display against the Seagull.
“I thought Alisha, with the ball, was excellent in the first half. She caused Brighton a lot of problems and you could see the number of fouls she was winning for us.
“What Alisha gives us is pace and strength, and for defenders, she causes troubles. I thought she was excellent together and thoroughly deserved her two goals.”
With Arsenal at home in the Women’s FA Cup next, followed by Barclays FA Women’s Super League matches with Chelsea and Manchester City, the head coach knows his team are in for a difficult couple of weeks.
With that in mind, Beard has every confidence that his West Ham can pick up some crucial points in the games against the current top three.
He added: “We’ve got a tough few weeks now. We’ve got Arsenal in the FA Cup and then Chelsea and Manchester City.
“The next three games are incredibly difficult, but we’ve proved over time that we can compete with these times. We just need to believe it, believe in ourselves, and keep moving forward.”