West Ham Manager Matt Beard Reading Women v West Ham United Women SSE Women's FA Cup Semi Final football match, Adams Park Stadium, Wycombe, UK - 14 Apr 2019 Photo: Paul Gregory for The FA

‘Sometimes you’ve just got to give the opposition credit’ – Beard

West Ham United manager Matt Beard has given Sunday’s opponents Tottenham Hotspur credit for the manner in which they defeated his side.

It was a dramatic game at The Hive which saw Tottenham Hotspur take the lead  before The Hammers responded in the 90th minute through Kenza Dali to make it 1-1.

Yet there was to be a sting in the tail as Rianna Dean’s header in the 96th minute sent West Ham United crashing to their sixth defeat of the season. A despondent Matt Beard spoke after his side were unable to see out the match despite drawing level in final moments of the match.

“It was a tough game” Beard told FA Women’s Super League Full-Time. “The three games we’ve played against Tottenham this year have been testing.

“It was really frustrating in the first half because I feel we had three really good chances so, they were good opportunities for us to go infront.

“On the corner for Emma Mitchell’s goal, which I thought she took really well, we just didn’t set up for what we worked on.”

Despite going behind to Mitchell’s goal, Beard felt his players lacked the conviction to react and trouble their London rivals in order to get themselves back in the game.

He added “I said to the girls throughout the week and before the game “whatever team works the hardest and whatever team gets on the first ball and the second ball will ultimately probably be the team that wins it” and that’s probably the story of the game.”

He also identified the performance in second 45 minutes as being particularly unsatisfactory.

“The second half was disappointing until we got the goal” he stated. “We didn’t stretch Tottenham enough, we could’ve been a little bit more direct, especially with the pace that we’ve got.

“Sometimes you’ve just got to give the opposition credit for how they’ve defended against the way that we’ve played.”

The West Ham United manager was quick to praise the impact his substitutes made when they were introduced into the game.

Beard said “I think Julia Simic made a difference when she came on, Leanne (Kiernan) made a difference when she came on, she started to stretch them and cause them problems.”

For Beard, when Dali did get West Ham United’s goal, that should have been the catalyst to turn the game in his team’s favour.

“When we get back level it looks like there’s only going to be one team that goes on to win it” he claimed.

“You’ve got to be sensible. They’ve broke, we should’ve fouled the player and then the second goal doesn’t happen.

“But we set up an opportunity to defend the cross, we defend the first bit of it and she’s got across the centre-half and put it in the back of the net.

“Can’t change it now, we’ve got to take it on the chin, we’ve got to recover and go again next week.”

Beard then went on to address the issues that had hampered his side’s preparations coming into the game.

He added “I don’t think the illness we had over the last week helped. It was a real tough week, we had 11-12 players that were down, Katharina Baunach is still out with it. That hasn’t helped.

“Esmee (de Graaf) picked up a little knock in the week and Cho (So-Hyun) is still not fully recovered.”

However, Beard was averse to use this as an excuse for his side’s shortcomings during against Spurs.

“There’s a lot that’s been going on, but we still can have more heart, more desire than we did at times” admitted The Hammers boss.

Next up for West Ham United is ninth-placed Brighton & Hove Albion at Rush Green where Beard will be hoping to see examples of the heart and desire that he is desperately craving from his team.

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