Olli Harder: It's a really tough pill to swallow
West Ham United Women were undone a by first half strike from Aileen Whelan as they lost 1-0 to Brighton and Hove Albion Women in their latest Barclays FA Women’s Super League fixture on Wednesday night.
For all their efforts, the Hammers just couldn’t put the ball in the net on a freezing cold night at the People’s Pension Stadium.
Laura Vetterlein went close twice for Olli Harder’s side in the opening 45 minutes, first her hooked volley from a corner was cleared off the line and then her whipped free kick crashed off the crossbar.
The defeat leaves the Hammers in 11th place in the WSL, just two points ahead of Bristol City at the foot of the table.
Speaking to www.whufc.com afterwards, Harder was disappointed with the number of individual errors from his team in such an important game.
We had lots of big chances in the run-up to us going behind and again in the second-half, chances in the beginning after we’d got a bit of momentum. We tried to be a bit more direct today and that was partly due to the condition of the pitch.
“It’s a really tough pill to swallow,” he said. “I thought there were moments in the game where we applied ourselves really well. I think we were let down by individual’s failure to positively contribute to big moments during the game. I think that was both offensively and defensively.
“When you’re at the bottom end of the table sometimes that’s just the way it goes. We had lots of big chances in the run-up to us going behind and again in the second-half, chances in the beginning after we’d got a bit of momentum. We tried to be a bit more direct today and that was partly due to the condition of the pitch.”
The hosts marshalled attacking duo Martha Thomas and Adriana Leon well throughout, with both having to settle with efforts from distance on more than one occasion.
“At the end of the day, we have to give credit to Brighton & Hove Albion,” Harder continued. “They defended very well but that doesn’t make it any less of a disappointing result for us.”
“I think the individual errors are a real characterisation of my first four or five games in charge. We can’t fault the efforts and the application, it’s difficult for me to be unhappy as a coach in that department.
“We had a half against Bristol City and a half against Chelsea that I wasn’t happy with. Other than that, we feel like it’s all there, we just need to improve on those individual mistakes.”
It’s probably a good time for us to have a break, it’s been a difficult transition for me coming in and having limited time with the girls and a bunch of games with a lack of training.
The Irons will have to wait to atone for Wednesday night’s disappointing result, an International break falls between now and the visit of Chelsea Women on Sunday 7 March.
“We’re disappointed that we’ve got to carry this result with us now over the course of the next few weeks.” Harder said. “It’s probably a good time for us to have a break, it’s been a difficult transition for me coming in and having limited time with the girls and a bunch of games with a lack of training. This is our first chance to collect our thoughts and have a breath and move on.”
Despite sitting just two points from bottom, Harder believes his squad has the mental toughness to remain in the Women’s Super League beyond this season.
“The big thing now is mentality,” he concluded. “This is never an easy situation for a manager, for a football club or for an individual player. It’s the old cliché of digging deep, reflecting on yourself and we’ve got ten games. These players, my staff, myself and the Club all have to pinpoint the things that we need to be doing to make sure we’re in this league next year.”