London City Lionesses head coach Melissa Phillips and forward Lucy Shepherd spoke at length about the squad's final match of 2022 — a trip to St. Andrew's to face Birmingham City in the Continental Cup.
Here is every word Phillips and Shepherd said about Saturday's contest, their previous encounter versus the Blues, and the year as a whole:
Melissa Phillips, Head Coach:
On facing Birmingham City for the second time in the space of a month:
It was an exciting match when we met Birmingham at home last time and maybe the scoreline was closer than the match indicated, just with conceding and scoring the set-pieces.
There was a lot of even and open play, Birmingham have been a competitive side in the league and went on to take down Bristol City the following weekend. We know it’s going to be competitive.
I think this is a really unique game for us because it’s not often that we’ve been drawn against a league opponent in a cup match. So, this game gives us an opportunity to go on the road and see what it’s like to play them before we face them in the league again. It allows us some extra preparation from that standpoint.
We’ll be focused on ourselves and looking to continue the momentum and form that we’ve had in the first half of the season and finish the year on a high.
On whether tomorrow's match could be as high-scoring as the previous encounter:
Both teams have a lot of competitive players in their squads. It was a high-scoring affair last time and both are equally capable of putting goals in the back of the net.
But we’ve also been very resolute behind the ball for the first half of the season, so that’s something that we’ll take a lot of pride in and try to put in a performance where we’re very difficult to break down and look to improve on the set-pieces that we conceded last time.
On the importance of finishing the year with a positive result:
For us, a positive result is a positive performance.
We focus so little on the end outcome, but focus so much more on the performance and what that will require from us. That’s something that we’ve been very clear about in each window of games and how we’re going to approach them: what’s the mentality of the team, what points are required, and what do we need from our performances?
We take it one match at a time and that’s how we’ll look at Birmingham as well. Ultimately, we want to make sure we put in a performance that we’re going to be proud of.
Lucy Shepherd, Forward:
On facing Birmingham City so soon after our previous meeting with them:
I think they’ll come out with a strong team. [After playing them recently], we know their formation, so we can just build on what we had in the last game against them. They’ll probably do the same as us: use it as a test for themselves to build their own play and hopefully take positives from this into the start of next year.
On the importance of finishing the year on a high:
As I just said, it’s good to keep building relationships and improving on what we’ve done this half of the season. Obviously, we’ve got a long break [between games] but I think it’s time for all of us to settle down and keep building individually when we’re at home. We’re going to come into the second half of the season strong, fit, and ready to go.
On her first half-season with the Lionesses:
We’ll take the positives: we’re top of the league right now [and] that’s the best possible position that we can be in at this point in the season.
We can still build on that – there are points that we dropped that we can learn from – but I think, all in all, it’s very positive. Everyone in camp is very happy and we’re looking forward to going into the new half of the season.