Women's Team

Taylor: The players found solutions

Gareth Taylor hailed City’s problem-solving qualities, following our Women’s FA Cup win over Everton.

The three-time competition winners secured our place in the 2021/22 semi-finals with a thumping 4-0 win over the Toffees, thanks to a Lauren Hemp brace, Caroline Weir wonderstrike and Ellen White effort.

While the manner of the victory was comprehensive, Taylor admitted his side had to adapt to a change in the visitors tactics, as the Merseysiders employed a five-strong backline, but praised his players’ ability to overcome the challenge.

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Asked what it was that made the result so spectacular, the Head Coach replied: “The way we approached the game.

“We dominated proceedings early on. We’ve been in a decent vein of form recently and continued that.

“We set about the game really well but we had to adapt. They played a back five and we got the message to the players quickly.

“The players are bright enough. We’ve experienced a lot together and they were really professional in the way they managed the game.

“It can be difficult playing against a 5-4-1. It means you’re probably going to be on the ball a lot around the halfway line and Everton are going to try and control the spaces.

“The interaction between the players in the first-half after ten minutes of working out the opposition, the players complemented each other really well.

“Lucy [Bronze] moved into attacking positions, Filippa [Angeldahl] moved outside and Jess Park was causing problems with Lauren on the wing.

“We had a good mix and variety to our game five at the back. There was space in behind and we mixed the game up. The players managed it really well and we got the rewards our play deserved.

“Full credit to the players for finding solutions.”

Part of that success saw City find the net in stunning fashion. Having opened the scoring from close range, Hemp doubled the lead with a sumptuous flick and Weir made it three with a trademark thunderbolt, before White sealed the rout in injury-time.

Once again, Taylor was delighted with his side’s clinical finishing – even if he did miss Weir’s worldie!

“We've been struggling to score in first halves,” he admitted. “We have been free-scoring in the second halves and it was good to be rewarded for our dominance. We could have had a few more.

“I missed Caz’s – I was busy getting subs ready – but I’ve watched it back and it was a fantastic goal.

“Lauren’s a top talent. When she’s adding goals to her game, she takes it to the next level. She understands her contribution to the team and everybody who helps her – to be scoring goals, she has to be getting opportunities, passes.

“In terms of controlling the game, Keira Walsh was the player who controlled the game for us. Her levels have been good and were good today.

“We’ve spoken a lot about her recently because she made her 200th appearance and she’s had lot of accolades and well wishes. For us, she showed her importance with and without the ball. She allowed players to play freely at the top of the pitch and controlled the counter-attacks really well.

“There are always areas we’re looking to improve on. We’ll look at the amount of data that supports final third entries and it’s a case of: ‘What are we then doing in that final third? What does our final action look like? Is it positive or negative?’

“When you look at the game against Reading, we came in at half-time 0-0. We’ve had the most success in the final third – it was 4.0 in terms of expected goals, which is incredible. Football never ceases to amaze!”

In the midst of a key but hectic run of fixtures, Taylor opted to switch up City’s attacking line-up before freshening things up with five substitutions in the second period.

“The team changed slightly – we made four changes to the front line. We brought in Filippa for the first football she’s played in a while.

“We were conscious of mainlining player fitness and availability in this busy period.

“With a player who hasn’t had a run of minutes, you’re never too sure what you’re going to get. I felt her level of performance was really good.

“We spoke before about her not being anxious about coming in and setting the world alight or proving anything to me. She’s a top player, a top international and we need more of those players because we want players competing in each position.

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“It feels a world away from where we were at the start when we didn’t have those options. The bench is looking really strong and that’s without Hayley Raso and Bunny [Shaw] getting on.

“When you’re looking to make changes, you’re thinking of the games coming up as staff, whereas you just want the players to focus on the now.

“You have to think about who’s right for each game. We were fortunate today that we were able to manage minutes. It’s just a feeling you have. Janine [Beckie] is pushing other wingers and they’re pushing the players who are playing, supporting them in the right manner. That’s what you need. That’s what a team does.”

With the semi-final draw taking place on Monday, Taylor asserts he has no preference on who City face and has called upon his side to remain focused, as excitement builds in the final stretch.

“Our objective is to get to the Final,” he added. “We’ll wait and see who we draw but there are some good teams in there.

“You have to beat good teams to get to the Final. We had a difficult opponent in the previous round in United. Sooner or later, you have to face those teams and we pay full respect to all of those teams.

“We’ll take each game at a time. When you’ve been on a run like we have, whether you’re playing in the Conti Cup Final, WSL or FA Cup, it’s easy to lose focus but we can’t do that we have tried and maintain that.

“I’ll let other people decide if it’s a successful season or not. We know what matters inside and for us, it’s the bigger picture. We’re constantly striving for trophies. I’m fortunate to have won one in each session but I’m hungry for more and the players are hungry for more.

“It’s about the way we go about our business. We want to play good football and we’re not always able to play that football – the opponent can stop you or we’re not as efficient – but that’s what gives me the most pride: the way we play and the way players are developing as individuals to help the team.

“The players have managed it really well and we’re looking to the next game.”

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