In her latest column, Liverpool FC Women manager Vicky Jepson reflects on her side going top of the FA Women's Championship by beating Coventry United Ladies and previews Wednesday's meeting with Manchester United in the Continental Cup.
It was pleasing to get a hard-fought 2-1 win at Coventry United Ladies on Sunday. Winning momentum is absolutely key for confidence and team morale. Our purpose every game is three points and it doesn’t matter how we get them, but obviously we would prefer a perfect performance. There were areas of our game against Coventry that we need to reflect on and be better at, but as a whole it was a well-earned three points. Coventry, certainly towards the end of the game, made us earn those three points but there were still many positives for us. Lucy Parry made her debut and became our youngest ever player, aged just 16 years and 150 days, which is incredible. Becky Jane returned for us, Amalie Thestrup got her first goal, so it was a good day overall.
I was so pleased to see Amalie get on the scoresheet and she can take a lot of confidence from that. She has been incredible because she’s been through quite a tough time away from football, so to get a goal I’m sure will mean the world for her and her family. I’m really pleased with her and I’m just hoping now she’s opened her account she can push on for us for the rest of the season.
With Rhiannon Roberts not quite 100 per cent after she picked up an injury against Charlton Athletic I brought Kirsty Linnett back into the team. Kirsty deserved it after she came on and scored a great goal against Charlton. She had a really good training week and she did really well for us at Coventry. There are certain areas she can improve on as she hasn’t had as many minutes as the other players, but Kirsty certainly did what I asked from her. The one thing she will be disappointed with was not to get a goal because she did get herself into some great areas to finish, but I’m sure we will see that with more minutes that she gets.
Becky Jane returned for us but could only play for 30 minutes as we manage her fitness after injury. Ash Hodson got injured in the warm-up and Becky’s last competitive game was February 23, which seems a long time ago. When someone is only allowed to play for 30 minutes normally I would bring them off the bench, but with Ash getting an injury I had to start Becky. She did really well and it was great because it gave us time to prep young Lucy because she knew she would be taking the reins at right-back once Becky had played the first 30 minutes. Becky had a real controlled performance in those 30 minutes and acted as a role model to show Lucy this is what we need you to do in the press and what we need you to do out of possession.
I actually thought Lucy was really good when she came on. For a 16-year-old to step up against a physical Coventry side, I thought she did really well. I used to coach Lucy as an U11 player in our development team. I will never forget meeting her mum the first day she arrived at our club and didn’t speak. Her mum said to me: ‘This is Lucy, she doesn’t talk much but her football will do her talking.’ And you know what? She was so right! It was incredible to watch her play with so much confidence. There’s lots she can learn from with that performance but you wouldn’t have thought she was only 16 making her debut, put it that way. She really held her own and everybody in our squad was really pleased with Lucy’s performance. For me, it was just a real shame her parents couldn’t be in the stadium to watch her because I know they would be incredibly proud to see her running out in that shirt.
On Wednesday afternoon we are back at Prenton Park when we face Manchester United in the group stage of the Continental Cup. We had a good game against them in pre-season which ended in a draw and we lost marginally away to them in the league last season. It’s always been a tough game and we are well aware of the type of signings that Casey Stoney has brought into their squad and the calibre of players that they have. On top of that, we played 90 minutes on Sunday on a different type of surface, in turf as opposed to grass. All these challenges creep in but we can’t control that and we have to make sure we recover well and be ready for Wednesday.
We’ve also got a big league game away at Leicester City on Sunday so we need to manage minutes and manage our recovery strategies. There’s always motivation when you play against United. We’ve got utmost respect for Casey, who used to play here, and her team but there’s nothing better than these type of games to give you that extra motivation. We have motivation anyway playing against a team from the Women’s Super League because that is the league we want to be back in as soon as possible, so we’ll give it our best on Wednesday and see where it takes us.
Kick-off at Prenton Park on Wednesday is 2pm BST, with fans reminded that this is a behind-closed-doors game due to the continuing restrictions regarding COVID-19.
However, you can watch the game live and free across LFC's official channels, including YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and LFCTV GO. Click here for details.