City Ladies manager full of praise for his side despite narrow defeat to Hornets
Coventry City Ladies manager Chris Holloway said he "couldn’t have asked for anymore from the players" after his depleted squad were beaten by a controversial late goal against Watford on Sunday.
Despite missing Kim Walton, Danni Saulter and Natalie Reay through injury, and losing Hannah George and Emily Simpkins to Birmingham City over the Christmas period, the Sky Blues started well and twice went close in the first-half, through Helen Dermody and Courtney Sweetman-Kirk.
The visitors continued to threaten in the second-half and forced Watford ‘keeper Lauren Davey into a succession of superb saves, before Zoe Teasdale came off the bench to net an injury-time winner for the hosts.
Despite the loss, Holloway was full of praise after the game. "The players were a credit to themselves and to this football club. It shows that they are taking on board what we are trying to get across and how hard they have worked in training. This result hurt but there were also many positives to take from the game."
He continued: "We went to a team who hadn't lost in 12 games, who have a very good squad and management team and are going in the right direction. We matched them and with a bit of luck maybe could have nicked the win ourselves."
After a series of postponements through cup commitments and waterlogged pitches, Sunday’s match at Broadwater was Coventry’s first league match in almost two months, and halted the run of five straight wins in all competitions.
Top scorer Courtney Sweetman-Kirk was similarly upbeat, despite coming back from Hertfordshire without anything to show for their efforts: "I was impressed with our performance to be honest and it’s just a shame it ended with a defeat. We battled consistently and I felt we matched them all over the park. We created chances as well as limiting theirs. The late goal was certainly hard to take, especially after the way we played, but we have a great team spirit that will help us bounce back."
The loss also marked a recurrence of conceding a late winning goal, a problem the club repeatedly suffered earlier in the season, most notably in the defeats to Manchester City and Leeds United. However, Holloway was frustrated by the manner in which it was scored. Welsh international Sarah Wiltshire appeared to handle the ball before her drive was well saved by Susan Wood, only for Teasdale to bundle the rebound into the net to secure maximum points for Watford.
The Sky Blues boss said: "The goal yesterday wasn’t anything to do with lack of concentration or any defensive errors, apart from the officials that didn’t spot the handball in the build-up to the initial shot. It was there for all to see and you just hope they get those decisions right."
Coventry City return to cup action next weekend, as they play host to Aston Villa in the last 16 of the FA Women’s Premier League Cup. Holloway’s side will be hoping to replicate October’s 3-1 victory over their local rivals, en route to topping Group Three in the qualifying stage of the cup.
The fixture will take place at the Bedworth Oval, and will kick off at 2pm.