Olli Harder: My West Ham United players gave a good account of themselves at Manchester City
Olli Harder said that his side gave a good account of themselves at the Academy Stadium on Sunday afternoon - despite a 5-1 defeat by Manchester City in the Vitality Women's FA Cup fifth round.
The New Zealander’s team produced a strong performance and trailed by a single goal going into the closing stages before City netted three late goals to advance into the sixth round.
West Ham fan Ellen White opened the scoring for the home side with 15 minutes gone, before Anouk Denton scored her second FA Cup goal in two matches a minute later to equalise.
Janine Beckie then put the home side in front just before the break, but the Irons came out flying in the second half, with Grace Fisk and Leanne Kiernan hitting the woodwork in quick succession as Harder's team sought a second leveller.
City’s quality eventually shone through, as goals from Rose Lavelle, Sam Mewis and Lauren Hemp late into the second half gave the Citizens the win.
We’re developing a DNA here at West Ham which revolves around that and that’s slowly coming together – it’s now about making sure we carry that into next season
“It was a difficult match against a top-quality team,” Harder admitted. “It was made more so when we have a very thin bench and picked up a couple of injuries this afternoon but, saying that, I thought the girls put in a good account of themselves and worked really hard for one another.
“We’re developing a DNA here at West Ham which revolves around that and that’s slowly coming together – it’s now about making sure we carry that into next season.”
The Hammers battled away throughout the match, working incredibly hard with their pressing, causing problems high up the pitch for Manchester City.
Unfortunately, Dagný Brynjarsdóttir couldn’t continue in the second half, with Harder explaining why the Icelandic international had to be replaced by Leanne Kiernan.
“There obviously wasn’t the intention to make the change so early in the game. Dagný had a problem with her hip at half-time, so we asked Leanne to go and do a job for us in midfield.
“The intensity of the game probably got to her (Leanne) a little bit, but then she’s not 100% ready and back to full fitness – so that can be expected."
Harder also gave some insight into the type of player that he will be looking to bring to the football club for next season.
“It’s about making sure that we have robust players – players that are able to play a 22-game season. We have to many players that are on the physio table at the moment, so for me it’s about looking forward and making sure that next season, we have enough of those robust players so that we can play the style of football that we play.”
The Hammers will now have some time off ahead of the new 2021/22 season, when Harder is hoping to continue the progression that he has seen at the Club since his arrival.
“Now is a time where they can recuperate and regenerate their bodies – as I’ve talked about, we will have players coming in and also players that are leaving us. We want players that are going to be able to play at our intensity for multiple games on the bounce,” he concluded
“It’s important for them to make sure that they have this break from football and come back refreshed.”
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