Liverpool Ladies manager Matt Beard couldn't hide his delight after Natasha Dowie scored four times to book their place in the semi-finals of the Continental Cup after a 4-1 win away at Bristol Academy on Sunday.
Going into the fixture on the back of successive defeats in the Women’s Super League, the reigning champions showed their true colours with a brilliant attacking display in the quarter-finals.
Dowie was simply irresistible in attack and her manager was fulsome in his praise for the Ladies No.9.
“Natasha got a lot of criticism for the first part of the season but we were having to play her in a slightly different role because of the injuries she had, but she is a natural goalscorer and a big player for us,” Beard told Liverpoolfc.com.
“You give Natasha chances and she will score goals.
“It’s not been easy for Natasha because we lost a lot of our supply line and some world-class players like Louise Fors, Nicole Rolser, Amanda Da Costa, Lucy Bronze and Gemma Davison, when they left and also the injuries to key players we have had this year.”
A wonderful team spirit and mental strength is a key component of Beard’s team and they showed that in abundance once again at the Stoke Gifford Stadium.
“It was a pressure situation for us because domestically this is the only competition we can win,” he added.
“We were a little bit nervous in the first half but we sorted one or two things out at half-time, and the second half was at good as it’s been for us.
“We created some great chances and played some great football. It was a pleasing performance all-round.
“Whenever the chips are down we usually deliver. The young players have stepped up to the plate and done really well for us. Ashley Hodson and Maz Pacheco both came off the bench at Bristol and did really well.
“Katie Zelem put in her best performance for us in a Liverpool shirt. She was brave, winning headers, making tackles and making great runs and she deserves a lot of praise for that.”