In her latest column, Liverpool Ladies captain Gemma Bonner pays tribute to manager Matt Beard and looks forward to Sunday's final home league game against Chelsea.
I would like to start this column by paying a special tribute to our manager Matt Beard, who announced on Tuesday that he would be stepping down from his role at the end of the season to take up a new challenge with Boston Breakers in the NWSL. Matt is a brilliant manager who we have enjoyed a successful time under, and he deserves a lot of credit for what we have achieved here, which is a result of ensuring we brought in not only quality players but the right people with the correct mentality.
Personally, I have a lot to thank him for, this is my fifth year of working with him and he has been a great influence on me and my career. I started with him at Chelsea and have since worked closely with him through the years. While it will be sad to see him go, it is a fantastic opportunity for him and his family and I wish him all the best. I know he is determined to finish the season strongly and the same goes for us as a group of players.
The last time we played we managed to reach the semi-finals of the Continental Cup with a 4-1 win away at Bristol Academy. The cup is a big target for us this year so it was a great feeling after the game to be in the hat for the next round. Although Bristol are bottom of the league table, it was still a tough tie for us. The girls deserve a lot of credit for the performance we put in. Natasha Dowie scored all four of our goals and we were delighted for her as she is an important player for us and hopefully she can carry her goalscoring form into the final part of the season.
Unfortunately for us, we received another injury blow last week with the news that Kate Longhurst will be out for up to six weeks after damaging her ankle ligaments in training. Luck certainly hasn’t been on our side this season with regards to injuries and Kate will be a big loss for us as she has played in so many different positions this season. It’s a big blow but I have always said injuries give opportunities to other players to step in as we near the end of our Women’s Super League season. We still have a cup final to try and reach and we have a UEFA Women’s Champions League tie in October against Brescia, so there is still a lot to play for.
On a positive note, it has been good to see Satara Murray fully fit again, I have enjoyed playing alongside her in the centre of our defence. Satara has spent a long time on the sidelines through injury and she is getting better every game she plays. I have no doubt that Satara will prove to be a really important player for Liverpool Ladies over the coming years.
On Sunday night we play our final home game of the season in the Women’s Super League when we welcome Chelsea to the Select Security Stadium in Widnes (kick-off 7pm BST). It has been an up and down season for us in the league and frustrating with the amount of injuries we have suffered to key players but we want to end on a real high. Without a doubt our supporters are the best in the league, they never stop singing and supporting us home and away, and we really appreciate their fantastic support. Hopefully we can get a big crowd there on Sunday. Chelsea come into the game with the league title in their hands so the pressure is on them. For us, we would love to put on a show, not just for ourselves but our fans too as we look to build on our performance at Bristol and get the three points.
The club have got a couple of offers on for the Chelsea game with free coach travel being offered from Anfield and it would be great to get some new supporters coming along to watch us play. A lot of people have pre-conceived opinions about women’s football until they actually watch the game, but what I would say is come along and see what we are all about. What the supporters get from us is every player showing commitment and giving their all, so hopefully we can end our league campaign in Widnes with a win.
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