Harder: We've got to play right until the end

Olli Harder was disappointed not to come away with all three points at Victoria Road this evening, as his side conceded an equaliser in the closing stages of their WSL clash with Birmingham City. 

The New Zealander looked to be picking up his first league victory since taking over as West Ham United Women’s boss, but an injury time strike from Blues defender Ruby Mace meant that the points were shared amongst two teams fighting for safety in the top division. 

Harder was pleased with his side’s reaction in the second half, but understandably disappointed to not be picking up a deserved win. 

“It wasn’t a great first half from us,” he began. “There were patches in the first half that were decent, but overall, we weren’t good enough in the opening 45 minutes.

“We responded well in the second half, getting the goal really early on when they were down to 10 men. The second goal from Svitkova was excellent, with some great play in the build-up.”

“They get one right at the death, and I said to the girls if that’s the other way round, we’d be celebrating like Birmingham are. That’s why you play football and you've got to play right until the very end, we only played for 94 minutes tonight and we needed to play for 95. 

“It’s a big point for us when you look at the bigger picture and we need to keep clicking over and getting points. Tonight’s result takes us off the bottom of the table, which is a positive.”

The Hammers fell behind to an early Emily Murphy strike and failed to get going in the first half, with Harder critical of the display from his players in the opening 45 minutes. 

“We’ve talked a lot about individual accountability and that was something that we mentioned in the changing room at half time, taking responsibility for their own performance levels.

“Like I said, initially we started well but conceding an early goal shakes you in your boots a little bit – it’s a phycological hump we have to get over. 

“The only real positive we can take from the first half display was that we stayed in the game and didn’t make it something that was unreachable. The second half display was what you want as a manager, it’s just unfortunate that we couldn’t hold on at the end. 

The Hammers created a number of opportunities in the second half, with Katerina Svitkova’s drilled finish a good reflection of the work that has taken place out on the training pitch. 

“We’ve been working on that. That’s what we said at half-time, we’ve spent a long time working on this stuff over the international break and we have to take responsibility when a team’s defending deep and is compact. 

“The second goal was a good reflection of that – it was a well taken goal. We’ve been struggling to score recently, so to put two in the back of the net is a good start, so let’s take the positives and move forward.”