Women's Team

Taylor: ‘Flying machines’ showed a different side

Gareth Taylor says City showed a different side to our game in Saturday’s 2-0 win over West Ham.

Goals from Georgia Stanway and Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw at the Chigwell Construction Stadium clinched a crucial win in the FA Women’s Super League race for a top-three spot.

Though the performance was not a typical City display of free-flowing football and attacking dominance – the visitors opting for a more direct approach – the Head Coach was pleased to see his team add another string to their bow in his 50th victory in charge.

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“It was an important win and another clean sheet,” he reflected. “It was pleasing. It could have been more.

“West Ham are a team who have only lost twice at home all season and it was a really important win at this stage.

“Performance-wise, we could have been three or four up in the first 30 to 35 minutes, which was a frustration. We spoke about a few things at half-time. It’s never easy – it’s the hardest thing to put the ball in the back of the net.

“We had problems with our build-up play – we had to go more direct – but we had firepower and pace at the top end of the pitch, which would be a problem for anyone.

“You always look at what the opposition do – drop off or engage – and when a team like that wants to come and engage, there’s space in behind, and we exploited that.

“We had flying machines at the top of the pitch and at times, we used that. We had good energy and it was a different way for us – as much as we like to build all the way through, Ellie Roebuck has probably gone longer than she has done previously, and we defended really well.

“Potentially, it was a different way of winning. West Ham, fair play to them, put us under pressure. We were a little bit inconsistent, although there was some good play where we went a little bit more direct.

“We won the first goal – Lauren [Hemp] won the ball back with her poaching and pressing, Georgia scores and it was good for Bunny to get a goal.

“We’d had good chances before that. It was pleasing that Georgia put it in. She arrived at the right moment and kept it low.

“I’d expect us – with the levels we’ve shown – to put the game to bed potentially in the first half. West Ham are dangerous and physical, and you always leave the game open slightly at 1-0.

“There have been a lot of changes [since our last trip to Dagenham]. In the last game of last season, the pitch was nowhere near like it is now – they have invested – which is another reason why we have to go back and analyse where we could have been better.

“West Ham are an established WSL team. This is their highest points haul in a season. They’ll have aspirations to push on, which is good and you can see that growth in a lot of teams, who are looking not just to stay in the league but to push on and make their claim.

“It’s an important win. It puts a marker down but it will be a completely different game [when we return to West Ham for the FA Cup semi-final] and we will have to go and earn it again.”

There was further cause for celebration, as Chloe Kelly made her long-awaited return from an ACL injury and Taylor was delighted to be able to field the winger once more.

“It’s great to have her back,” he hailed. “It’s been a long time. It felt a bit strange, having not had her for that period of time.

“We mentioned it at the end and the girls have been great with her. Everyone’s really pleased to have her back.

“You always worry about those situations – how the player is feeling going into it. There’s excitement but sometimes, they can be too excited.

“There would have been some anxiety there with Chloe having been out for so long but she’s been managed well by the Club and she’s done really well in rehab. It’s great to have her back.”

Taylor also shared an update on Shaw, who was forced off with 15 minutes left, declaring the injury was not a serious one to the Jamaica international.

“It’s just a knock,” he said. “We’ve got Ellen [White] to come on and we were going to make that change anyway.

“She’s fine and she will still report for international duty.”

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With just four league games remaining, City are right in the hunt for a Champions League spot and while Taylor admits the feat would be an impressive achievement given his side’s start to the campaign, the Head Coach asserts the Continental Cup winners are not looking further than the next game.

“It would be a good achievement but I would always look at what more we could have done,” he continued.

“All we can do is attack the game in front of us. We’ll be attacking every game as it comes – that’s the most important thing.

“We have an international break now, which is a bit frustrating, and when we come back, we don’t have long – just one training session with the players with the [FA Cup] game rescheduled.

“It’s about attacking every game that’s presented in front of you and seeing where that takes you for the season.

“If it’s enough, it’s enough and if it’s not, we’ll evaluate and see where we could be better. At this stage of the season, we’re in good form, in a good flow and we’re scoring goals with clean sheets, which is pleasing.”

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