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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Beth Lindop

Matt Beard shares half time dressing room message as Liverpool boost WSL survival chances

Liverpool boss Matt Beard believes his side have an "unbelievable" chance of staying in the Women's Super League after their 2-0 victory over Reading.

It was an end-to-end first half at Prenton Park, with Emma Harries hitting the bar for the visitors and both sides having chances cleared off the line. Missy Bo Kearns broke the deadlock on the hour mark before Ceri Holland's drilled effort just three minutes later rubber-stamped a huge win for the hosts.

The result sees Liverpool leapfrog Tottenham to move up to eighth in the table, eight points clear of bottom-of-the-league Leicester. And the Reds boss believes Sunday's victory could be hugely decisive in securing his side's WSL status beyond the end of this season.

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"It’s a big three points for us today, especially with the results yesterday with Brighton drawing and Leicester getting beat," Beard said after the game.

"We haven’t really spoken about that. We spoke about the importance of our games and focusing on getting three points against Reading so I’m delighted that we did that today. I said to the players after the game, the way we’ve trained in the last few weeks since Man United - even the players who haven’t got on the pitch have had such a valuable input into today’s result.

"It just goes to show that we’re such a together group and how unselfish some people are. I’ve got 11 that I can pick and its tough to pick 11. From one through to 25, I’m proud of everyone."

Opening up on what he said to his players to inspire an impressive second-half performance, the Liverpool manager added: "We spoke about the communication and the talking. We spoke about the tempo of our play when we’re under pressure, we have to move it quickly.

"What we were doing was playing down one side and then staying down that side when the space was to go out and then switch it. Fuka was on a lot or Jas or Meg, stepping into those positions.

"We showed them the clips of the spaces. But the big thing for me was the talking, and I think we did better with that in the second half."

The win over the Royals means Liverpool have now picked up 11 points from their first 11 games, a figure that Beard believes brings them close to the prospect of top-flight survival.

"We’re not naive," he said. "We understand where we are on this journey in the WSL. We’ve taken points off Reading away and at home, we drew with Brighton away, we beat West Ham so teams we feel are in and around us, we’ve got points from.

"Ultimately, when we play the top teams, yes we want to give a good account of ourselves and we’re frustrated when we don’t win those games but the gap from top to bottom is massive and I think that’s clear to see. It took teams three years to get into that position.

"Our aim is to stay in the division. We’ve given ourselves an unbelievable chance with today’s three points. We’re on 11 now and we think 12 or 13 is going to be the magic number."

The Reds will have the chance to reach that 'magic number' when they welcome Leicester to Prenton Park next Sunday. Willie Kirk's side have won just one game all season, though Beard has been impressed with the way the Foxes have acquitted themselves since the winter break.

"I thought they did well out of possession yesterday and frustrated Manchester City. It’s not going to be an easy game but the pressure is on them more than us now," he said.

"We’re the ones who’ve got points on board and are in a good position so it’s a must-win game for them. We’ll just concentrate on ourselves as we’ve done the last few weeks, prepare as best we can and give ourselves a good opportunity to win the game. "

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