Willie Kirk praised a battling performance from Everton Ladies that earned a 1-0 win over West Ham United Ladies at Rush Green.
Substitute Hannah Cain stepped off the bench to grab an 88th-minute winner on Wednesday night to move the Blue Girls five points clear of bottom club Yeovil in the Women’s Super League.
Kirk feels the determined display, which saw Everton see out the final minutes with 10 players after Gabby George limped off injured, bodes well for the future.
He said: “Since I’ve come here I’ve said we need to look up the way, not down the way.
“When we came off the bottom of the table it was about catching the team above us.
“We have gained two points on Brighton and the aim now is to catch them.
“That’s the way we will do it. I don’t want to look underneath us or behind us, I want to finish the season as strongly as possible. That will lay the foundations for next year.
“If that’s the battling performance the girls can give us, I will be happy with that.”
Kirk also had words of praise for match-winner Cain, who has battled back from injury to make a decisive impact in east London.
He added: “It has been a long, frustrating road for her, she’s been desperate to make an impression.
“We knew Hannah probably had 20 minutes in her. She is a fantastic finisher and hopefully she gets more opportunities to show that now.”
The victory came against the odds, with the Blue Girls’ squad hit by several injuries, yet despite it not being a classic performance, Kirk was delighted with the morale-boosting victory.
He said: “It was not a vintage performance in terms of the way we were passing the ball and creating chances.
“They made up for it with sheer guts and determination.
“We have got people pulling up with cramp, we have got Gabby on crutches.
“We are down to bare bones with injuries already, we had a couple of 16-year-olds on the bench.
“Everything was against us and we took it on the chin and we were fantastic. The girls deserve that feeling of euphoria and the three points.”