Olli Harder: We produced a professional performance

West Ham United Women’s manager Olli Harder was by and large pleased with the performance of his players in a comprehensive 3-0 win over Everton.

The Hammers’ third match in eight days since returning to action yielded their first win of the calendar year, as a display of clinical finishing from Kateřina Svitková, Dagný Brynjarsdóttir and Claudia Walker powered them to three points at Victoria Road.

Having fought back from a player down to draw away at Tottenham Hotspur last weekend, and then matched Chelsea for large spells of an eventual Continental League Cup quarter-final defeat on Wednesday, all three games have had their fair share of encouraging signs for Harder.

And the professional nature of Sunday’s win – in which Everton admittedly dominated the first half-an-hour before West Ham took control of the contest, scoring either side of half-time and breaking up play well thereafter – was the most satisfying aspect this time around.

“I thought we were decent in patches,” Harder said, speaking to West Ham TV. 

“It was a professional performance at home. This is our third game this week, so it was pleasing with the result. 

“I think for us it was a case of making sure we exploited them when the moments came. We knew that there would be those moments, particularly in transition. For us, it was pleasing to be more clinical in front of goal and deserve a 3-0 win.

“There were some things we need to improve on, but overall, we’ll take those three points and move on to Wednesday.”
 

Lisa Evans


Starring in the victory was on-loan winger Lisa Evans, who returned to Harder’s starting line-up for the visit of the Toffees’ and who was heavily involved in the Irons’ opening two goals.

Having linked up well with Svitková for the Czech midfielder’s opener shortly before half-time, Evans subsequently stretched the Toffees’ defence after it, racing onto Svitková’s long pass and – having been tackled on the cusp of shooting – creating space for Brynjarsdóttir to tuck away the second.

Harder commented: “Any time you’ve got Lisa Evans stretching the game in behind, most defenders are going to be a little bit worried. 

“Of course, we’re going to use that when we can, and for us it was effective to turn them around and put pressure on them. They tried to play out, but caused themselves problems, and that allowed us to capitalise on that.”

Harder was also pleased with the performance of 20-year-old goalkeeper Anna Leat, making her third successive appearance – and second in the WSL – in the absence of Mackenzie Arnold, who is away on international duty at the AFC Asian Cup in India.

“We think she’s a fantastic young goalkeeper,” Harder said of Leat.  “At 20-years-old, and to be performing the way she is, is fantastic already. 

“That’s her fourth clean sheet for us altogether – she had three in the Conti Cup as well – so I’m proud of her and pleased that she can continue her development here with us.”

The fixtures keep coming thick and fast for Harder’s side in a busy January, with a trip to face WSL champions Chelsea at Kingsmeadow next up on Wednesday.

But the manager feels that, if his side can build on the display they delivered earlier this week in the Cup quarter-final, they will have every chance of matching Emma Hayes’ Blues side once more.

Harder concluded: “I’ve said it before, I think we were good value against Chelsea for all parts of the game. 

“We didn’t sit back. We went out there with a lot of pride and a good work ethic, but it was the details which let us down.

“I think for Wednesday’s match it’s a case of repeating that but, with better details and a bit more quality, we might get something out of the game.”