Matt Beard steps in to cover Tanya Oxtoby’s maternity leave at Bristol City

Bristol City Women have appointed Matt Beard as head coach until the end of the season as maternity cover for Tanya Oxtoby, who expecting her first child in March.

Beard left West Ham in November after one win from seven Women’s Super League games and take charge of a team bottom with two points from 10 matches.

City’s chairman, Mark Ashton, said: “It has been a challenging season so far and credit to Tanya, who despite contracting Covid-19, has remained focused and determined to drive the team forward.

“Allowing her to take a step back now will allow a significant handover period for Matt and we are delighted to have secured his services for the rest of the season during Tanya’s maternity leave.”

Oxtoby, who was appointed by the club in 2018, said: “Given the circumstances and where we are with the pandemic I think it makes sense for the transition to begin and I’m fully supportive.

“I know Matt well. At the forefront of my mind when I knew this process was going to start was the playing group and making sure the transition was as seamless as possible. The board have decided Matt is the right person to come in and I’ll support him 100% however he needs.”

Beard won the WSL in 2013 and 2014 with Liverpool and has also managed Chelsea among other clubs. He starts with a game at Everton on Sunday and said he expected to stay in touch with Oxtoby throughout the season. “I’m really excited and looking forward to the challenge,” he said.