Olli Harder: West Ham need to approach Reading match with no fear

Olli Harder

West Ham United Women travel to the Madejski Stadium on Saturday afternoon to take on Reading in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League. 

The Irons head to Berkshire knowing victory will take them off the bottom of the WSL table and above Bristol City and Aston Villa, who do not play until Sunday.

Manager Olli Harder says that his side have had a really positive week in the build-up to another important game in the top division. 

“Firstly, it’s been a really good and positive week out on the training pitch, the players have really worked hard in preparing to have Reading," said Harder.

“Looking back, were disappointed to have lost against Manchester United, but when you’re in a relegation battle it’s important to keep your heads up and focus on having a good week out on the field.“

The Royals come into Saturday’s match with one win in their last five, but have been a mainstay in the WSL since their promotion in 2016. Kelly Chambers’ side have a certain way of playing and Harder is aware that his side will have to be at their best to counter that.

“Reading are a high energy team, so we’re expecting them to be pressing us with lots of vigour," he observed. "They have their own way of playing football and our aim is to go there and try and impose our own style of play on the game, as well as taking our chances when they come and defending well; that will give us the best chance to win the match.

“Full credit to Reading and their coaching staff in terms of their consistency across the last few seasons, which they’ve been able to do using the same system each season. 

“For us it’s about taking steps, we’re a young team in the division and almost a year and a half of that time will have been played with COVID which has made things difficult, so it’s been a bumpy road but the next step for us is avoiding relegation and then looking to consolidate our place in the division.”

The Hammers have looked much better in recent weeks, but are still searching for their first league win of 2021, with Harder aware that his side need to approach Saturday’s match with no fear to give themselves the best possible chance of changing that statistic.

“There have been some really positive aspects in all of our last three matches going all the way back to Chelsea after the international break," he continued. "I thought we played well against Chelsea and we were one kick away from taking all three points against Birmingham. 

“It was an excellent effort against Manchester United which was made difficult by the red card that Laura Vetterlien picked up. It’s about approaching Saturday’s game with no fear and not letting the places in the table dictate the performance.”

Vetterlein’s place within the back three will be up for grabs on Saturday whilst the defender serves her one game suspension and the Hammers boss has called upon whoever takes her place to seize the opportunity. 

“It’s a chance for someone to step into the starting XI this weekend, we’ve looked at a number of candidates this week during training, so it’s an opportunity for someone to step in and contribute to the team. I have no doubt that whoever steps in on Saturday will give it their all and perform to their best. 

“The pressure is on from now until the final whistle at the end of the season, and to be honest it has been since we played Brighton. We understand what it is that we need to do, everyone in the club and out on the pitch is aware of that is at stake and what is required. Saturday is another opportunity to take a step closer to that objective of survival,” he added.

You can watch Reading Women vs West Ham United Women on Saturday live on the FA Player.