Matt Beard on Robe hat-trick, Coventry United test and FA Cup draw

ColumnMatt Beard on Robe hat-trick, Coventry United test and FA Cup draw

Published 3rd February 2022

In his latest column, Liverpool FC Women manager Matt Beard reflects on Leighanne Robe's brilliant hat-trick against Lincoln City, another superb display from Katie Stengel, and looks ahead to Sunday's meeting with Coventry United Ladies.

I was delighted with our overall performance on Sunday in the Vitality Women’s FA Cup tie with Lincoln City. When you play in these type of games they can be a bit tricky at first. Lincoln City came with a game plan and tried to stay in the game as long as they could, and I felt they executed that brilliantly, to be fair, before it was a set-play that undid them.

The third goal, for me, was a great goal because we had identified those spaces in behind them. We had spoken to Charlotte Wardlaw about that just before she played that diagonal ball. When we went from one side of the pitch to the other, their back line became stretched. I thought Katie Stengel’s movement and the pass from Charlotte was first-class. The weight of the pass and then Katie’s movement, touch and finish was world-class.

We see that every day in training from Katie. I only worked with her for a couple months at Boston Breakers, but one thing we noticed around training was that she was a fantastic finisher. She joined us late in Boston so didn’t get much starting time. But the injury to Melissa Lawley has allowed her to step in and she has been brilliant for us.

Katie has got a great personality, she is funny and she has settled in really well. The girls are brilliant in helping a new player settle in. Katie has been a great addition for us and I always knew she would be suited to English football.

She is intelligent, she has a great football brain and she just gives us something different. I just felt Katie was the final piece in the jigsaw with regards to the overall balance of our squad, especially with her experience – and that is vitally important. The minute I knew we could get the visa, I wanted to make this signing happen.

Highlights: LFC Women 6-0 Lincoln City

I’ve got to mention our hat-trick hero Leighanne Robe. Everyone knows what a great personality Robey is, but in terms of football she has worked incredibly hard on the training ground. She wants to improve and she wants to learn. She is constantly challenging herself and one thing we have spoken about is her wanting to get that goal.

Because she is such a good defender and brilliant at one-v-one situations, we tend to leave her back when we have a set-piece because we can leave ourselves open sometimes.

She hit the bar twice as well on Sunday and was a real threat for us all day. I was delighted she managed to get the goal and it was fitting that she managed to get the hat-trick. She did take a penalty for us before and scored in the Continental Cup earlier this season.

'To score a hat-trick and get my first LFC goals is an amazing feeling'
1st February 2022

LFC Women'To score a hat-trick and get my first LFC goals is an amazing feeling'Leighanne Robe was almost lost for words after netting a hat-trick as Liverpool FC Women hit Lincoln City Women for six on Sunday.

I think if the game was at 1-1 or something like that then we would have kept Leanne Kiernan or Katie on the penalties, but I think Robey deserved to take it and she deserved the hat-trick.

It was just great to see because she is a fantastic character, and she is so valuable in the dressing room and on the pitch. I just think her development this year has been second to none, with and without the ball.

She has got better and she still puts herself under pressure to continue to improve – and that’s the sign of a good player. I’m delighted for her and it was a fitting afternoon.

Carla Humphrey had a fine game for us on Sunday and provided two great assists for Robey’s first two goals. Carla is a great player. For whatever reason, when she came in pre-season she put herself under a bit of pressure and she started to do things maybe she wouldn’t normally do.

It takes a while sometimes to adjust to a new club. I know Carla left London, then went to Doncaster, Bristol and now Liverpool. But when you come to Liverpool, this is a big club and the expectation is for us to be challenging at the top of this division.

It’s taken Carla a little while to settle in. She’ll be the first to admit she hasn’t played as many games as she would have liked, but when she has played she has done well.

In training she is doing really well and her performance recently against Tottenham Hotspur was her best in a Liverpool shirt.

I felt she started the game slowly on Sunday but she grew into it. She is a threat on set-plays and she is a very intelligent and a very gifted footballer.

I’m delighted she is now starting to find her form and she is back to the Carla I knew when I was with her at Bristol City.

We’ve got so much depth and strength in our squad now, and in our last two games we have utilised the 15 players that we have had available and everyone is playing their part.

I was delighted to see Taylor Hinds sign a new long-term deal with the club this week.

Taylor has been incredibly consistent throughout the season, both in games and in training. She’s just 22 years old and got her just rewards by getting back into the England set-up. I gave her the captain’s armband for the first time on Sunday and she deserved it.

We’re delighted she’s committed her future to the club. We see her future as being very bright and we’re looking forward to helping her kick on and develop even further.

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On Sunday we continue our promotion charge when we face Coventry United Ladies at Prenton Park.

It was brilliant to see them rescued recently – that was massive – and the gentleman that saved them is Lewis Taylor. So I just wanted to give a shoutout to him for stepping in and saving the club.

I have been through something like that when I was in Boston, so I know how hard and how devastating it is to see everything that you put together and you work for being taken away from you. It’s great for Jay Bradford and the players, and it’s great that they continue to finish the season. Lewis Taylor deserves the utmost respect and credit.

For us, we will continue to take it game by game and our focus is on Sunday and trying to get the three points and maintaining our lead at the top of the FA Women’s Championship.

We have got back-to-back home games now, with Sunderland to follow before the international break, but our focus is only on Coventry United.

The draw for the Vitality Women’s FA Cup fifth round saw us get a home game against Arsenal. I’m absolutely delighted with it. We are doing well, we are in a good moment and I’m delighted that we will be testing ourselves against one of the best teams in the Women’s Super League.

I think it’s going to be a great tie for us. I wanted us to draw a team from the WSL and a side we can benchmark ourselves against as well. But, as I said, we are playing well at the moment, we have got a very talented team. I think this team could compete in the WSL and it’s a game we will relish and look forward to.

The Vitality Women’s FA Cup is a great tournament and I was fortunate enough to take West Ham United to the final. We want to go as far as we can in this competition.

Yes, it’s a good tie for us. Yes, it’s a good opportunity to see where we are. But we are going to be setting up to try to progress in this tournament.

Thanks so much for your support as always.

YNWA,

Matt

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

LFC Women are back at Prenton Park on Sunday afternoon when they continue their promotion charge in the FA Women's Championship against Coventry United Ladies. Kick-off is 2pm GMT and tickets are on sale here.

Published 3rd February 2022