Matt Beard column: Brighton draw, busy week, Van de Sanden impact and more

LFC WomenMatt Beard column: Brighton draw, busy week, Van de Sanden impact and more

Published 22nd November 2022

In his latest column, Liverpool FC Women manager Matt Beard reflects on the thrilling 3-3 draw at Brighton & Hove Albion and looks forward to Thursday night's trip to Reading in the Barclays Women's Super League.

I have to say, Sunday was an emotional rollercoaster.

We started the game well, got in front, and then their goals were sort of our doing - even though I didn’t think their second was a penalty in the first place.

They scored their third goal from a cross that looped in and then we went into a bit of a shell and stopped playing. You can’t do that at this level.

We needed half-time and we addressed a few things. I thought Shanice van de Sanden had a fantastic impact on the game and made a big difference for us, as did Rachel Furness and Charlotte Wardlaw when they came on.

I was pleased with the end result because of what it looked like at half-time. We had some great chances, with their goalkeeper making an unbelievable save from Emma Koivisto and then denying Mel Lawley when she was in on goal one-v-one.

Taylor Hinds then hit the bar before we equalised and then we should have had a penalty in stoppage time when Razza [Rhiannon Roberts] was taken out by their goalkeeper.

We could have had the opportunity to potentially win the game but we can’t change that and have to accept it.

Highlights: Brighton 3-3 LFC Women

I was really pleased with our second half and the chances we created. Sometimes you have to give the opposition goalkeeper credit and Megan Walsh made some excellent saves.

Overall, I am pleased to get the point and stop the run of losses. I am pleased with the chances we created and converted.

Shanice has been getting sharper each week and it was great to see her get a goal and an assist.

We are gradually building her sharpness back up and she had a fantastic impact in the game. It was a good header and a great assist from Emma.

Her cross for Furney’s goal was fantastic and Furney was so brave, as she always is. She wanted that header despite a boot coming towards her head.

Razza came on towards the end as well and had a good impact for us. She was fresh and caused their left-hand side problems.

We now face another long trip on the road when we head to Reading Women on Thursday night in the WSL, but it’s another one we are looking forward to.

Reading have had an up-and-down season and I think their performances have got better as the season has gone on.

They lost 3-1 to Aston Villa on Sunday but they had their goalkeeper sent off, which obviously makes it tough. This is a tough and unforgiving league.

Kelly Chambers always has a team that is well organised and they are dangerous from set-plays. They have also had a few injuries like we have and that’s tough when you have small squads.

We need to take the positivity from Sunday’s second half at Brighton into this game, and hopefully it will be a 90-minute performance and not a 65-minute performance.

It was great to see Missy Bo Kearns get her first goal in the WSL for us on Sunday and she can take a lot of confidence from that.

Missy Bo has played a lot of football this season, especially with England U23s’ international fixtures too.

When she came back from the previous break she was fatigued and picked up a niggle in the Manchester City game which meant she couldn’t start against Aston Villa, so it’s been a bit of a stop-start season for her.

She is a fantastic player. You have to remember she is young, only 21. She is going to have to find her feet at this level, playing in the WSL.

I felt last season she found her feet really early, but when you are playing club football and then international football week in, week out, it’s not easy and we have to manage that load.

I’ve said this time and time again that I believe Missy Bo has all the attributes to be whatever she wants to be in this game and I know that she will do that.

I’ve been pleased with her performance levels this season. As a young player she is going to make mistakes but she is a very quick learner.

In recent games we’ve seen Jasmine Matthews playing in midfield for us. Jas is versatile. She is good on the ball and she breaks the play up.

She gives me that option to play her in midfield but obviously we had Missy Bo with a knock and Ceri Holland was injured, so Jas did a good job for me there.

I think you have seen clubs this season so far in the WSL who have had injuries, the impact that it has had on them.

We are OK with what we have produced this season so far but the thing for me is the gap from the Championship to the WSL is big.

As I’ve said before in this column, I know we’ve got a good enough squad to compete at this level, but I’m not going to come out and say our ambition is to just to stay up this season because we want to be as high up the league table as we can.

To be perfectly honest with you, it’s going to take us two or three more transfer windows to get us competing with those top teams and it’s not going to happen overnight.

From my perspective, it’s about how as individuals and as a team we grow.

We made a great start against Chelsea and then we had a tough run of games, but I felt we were a bit unlucky not to get something out of most of those games we lost.

Losing our top scorer from last season, Leanne Kiernan, on the opening day was a huge blow for us. You take that out of your team and it’s tough.

Leanne is a good finisher, she creates chances because of how quick she is and how direct she can be. We have had to adapt and adjust and that’s why the return of Shanice is massive for us.

I felt we used Shanice a lot better against Brighton than we did against Aston Villa. We forced it against Villa, but on Sunday we used the ball a lot better and got her into the right spaces to exploit the opposition.

On Sunday we are back at Prenton Park when we host Blackburn Rovers in the Continental League Cup, in a game that will be live on LFCTV and LFCTV GO.

I will rotate the squad again like I have done so far in this competition and give players the minutes they need, keeping everyone fresh.

We have to rotate because it will be our third game in seven days, including travelling down to Brighton and Reading.

Blackburn are in good form and they are a tough team to play against but hopefully we can get another three points and set us up nicely for that last game in the group at home against Manchester City.

And last but certainly not least, it's massive congratulations to Gilly Flaherty who became the WSL's record all-time appearance holder on Sunday.

Gilly is a fantastic professional on and off the pitch, a fantastic person and here's to many more appearances in the WSL!

Thank you for your continued support as always.

YNWA,

Matt

Matt Beard was speaking to Liverpoolfc.com's Steve Hunter

Published 22nd November 2022