In her latest column, Liverpool Ladies captain Gemma Bonner looks back on training at Anfield in front of the redeveloped Main Stand, the win over Doncaster Belles and Thursday night's trip to Reading.
On Monday, we had the fantastic opportunity as a squad to train at Anfield in front of the amazing new Main Stand. It was a glorious day and a real privilege for us to be a part of it. It was an experience we will never forget and we enjoyed every minute of it. It started with driving into the underground section on the coach and then going out onto the pitch - to get that full experience was a real honour. Just by training on the pitch and seeing the Main Stand completed I think Anfield has to be up there now as one of the best stadiums in the world.
On Saturday, we made it seven games unbeaten in the Women’s Super League with a 1-0 win over Doncaster Belles at the Select Security Stadium in Widnes. We were disappointed to lose to Birmingham Ladies in the quarter-final of the Continental Cup the way that we did, but we didn’t dwell on that and coming back off the break it was important we got the three points against Doncaster. I thought we were a bit rusty at times and it showed that we hadn’t played for a while, but the most important thing was the three points and a clean sheet, so we were happy with that. It was a great finish from Natasha Harding to get us the goal and it came at a good time early in the second half, which helped to settle us down. During the course of the game we created some good opportunities to have scored more than the one goal but to secure the three points was the most important thing.
We now look forward to tonight’s trip to Reading which is our game in hand and another important fixture for us. We beat them 2-0 at home back in July which was a tough test because they hit the bar and had another couple of good chances. We have to ensure we improve on last week and put in another solid performance if we want to get the three points.
I am really enjoying playing alongside Sophie Ingle at centre-half. We have known each other for a long time now. We played centre-half together at Chelsea and we have a good understanding of each other’s game on the pitch. Sophie is one of the most underrated players in the league - she is top quality. Defensively, we have been doing very well and that has shown with our results. I must say what a great job Mandy van den Berg has done at left-back in the absence of the injured Alex Greenwood. Alex has been a big loss for us but full credit to Mandy for the way she has fitted into the role. Not forgetting Satara Murray, either, who has been outstanding for us at right-back and really contributed to our solidity as a unit.
A lot has been said about us going seven games unbeaten in the Women’s Super League and I think a big reason why that has happened is we are now starting to gel as a team. The 6-3 defeat away to Chelsea back in May was a real turning point for us. We reviewed the game together and since that game we have tweaked things a bit on the pitch. Earlier on in the season we were probably committing too many bodies forward in attack and leaving ourselves exposed at the back, ultimately conceding lots of goals, but since then we have managed to find a good balance between attack and defence. We have got stronger game by game. With us being a new team it was always going to take some time to get to know each other’s strengths and have an understanding. That has started to show now and we are progressing nicely.
It’s hard to believe we only have four games left in the season now, with three of them away from home. We have put ourselves in a good position in the league coming towards the end of the season. It is frustrating looking back on the points we dropped early on in the season knowing that they could have put us right up there challenging, but we are a young side and we will learn from these experiences. Every single experience we’ve had this year, good and bad, will definitely make us stronger. If we can keep this group together then I’m sure we can have a very successful future.