Villa hit Hammers in dramatic finale

West Ham United Women v Aston Villa Women – FA Women’s Super League – Chigwell Construction Stadium – Report

West Ham United Women 2-3 Aston Villa Women 

In an entertaining encounter at the foot of the table, West Ham Women’s difficult start to the WSL season continued with Rachel Daly’s superb strike deep into stoppage time at the end of the match clinching a dramatic 3-2 win for bottom-placed Aston Villa.

The East Londoners have now won only once in seven league matches during the campaign so far and failed to win any of their last ten home matches played.

Rehanne Skinner made three changes to the Hammers starting line-up following their 5-0 defeat at Manchester United last week, with Shannon Cooke, Emma Harries and Mel Filis coming in to replace Anouk Denton, Lisa Evans and Honoko Hayashi.   

After both teams had ‘taken the knee’ before the start, the game kicked off in steady drizzle and West Ham went close early on after Hawa Cissoko played the ball through for Kirsty Smith to run through on the left-hand side and put over a superb cross that just evaded the head of Harries at the back post.

Having started well, Hammers had most of the early play, with the dangerous Smith causing Villa problems out wide.

Risa Shimizu’s effort squeezed just past the post shortly before the quarter of an hour mark and Riko Ueki was also unfortunate not to put West Ham into the lead – when following a pinpoint cross from the right flank, her downward header was kept out by the feet of keeper Daphne van Domselaar.

After Smith had been upended in the Villa box by Adriana Leon, referee Keith Stroud had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Viviane Asseyi, after sending van Domselaar the wrong way, despatched a perfect penalty kick into the bottom left-hand corner to make it 1-0.

Despite offering very little upfront in the game up until that point, Villa drew level almost immediately in the thirty-first minute when Kenza Dali’s corner was flicked on by Daly for Anna Patten to nod home at the far post past Mackenzie Arnold to make it 1-1. Leon had the ball in the net again shortly after – only for her effort to be ruled out for offside.

With Villa seemingly rejuvenated following the goal, Australian international and West Ham skipper Arnold brilliantly denied Leon at the near post to ensure that the teams went in at half-time still all square.

Carla Ward introduced Lioness Jordan Nobbs following the break in place of Laura Blindkilde-Brown and almost immediately Villa took the lead when following a free kick by Dali on the far side, Patten nodded the ball back across the area for former Hammer Leon to fire home the visitor’s second of the afternoon. 

Despite the balance of play having strongly shifted in Aston Villa’s favour, Abbey Leigh-Stringer’s header just before the hour mark bounced onto the bar on its way over the top as West Ham looked to try to establish a foothold back into the game once more.

With the clock starting to tick down, Rehanne Skinner introduced Evans in the seventy-fourth minute and it proved to be an inspired substitution as only six minutes later, the Scottish international smashed home an unstoppable twenty-five-yard left-footed screamer that will undoubtedly be a candidate for any ‘goal of the season’ poll to follow as the Hammers pulled it back to 2-2. 

As the game moved into the third minute of stoppage time at the end of the match, following a long ball down the middle, Mayumi Pacheco nodded down perfectly from the edge of the box for Daly to strike a spectacular acrobatic half-volley past Arnold into the top right-hand corner of the net for Villa’s third to seal the win and round off the afternoon in dramatic fashion.

Hammers’ boss, Skinner was naturally disappointed: “It’s a difficult result to take,” she bemoaned.

“I think if you’ve watched the game, you would’ve seen how good of a performance we’ve put in, but obviously, if you’re just looking at the result then that’s probably a little bit of a different reflection really. 

“But in terms of how the players applied themselves today, I can’t really fault the way that they’ve gone about the game.” 

Aston Villa coach Carla Ward spoke to the Yellow Advertiser following the match: “We are delighted with the win today as West Ham, despite their position in the table, are a good side. It was sometimes ugly, but we hung on in there and got the result and we’re happy with that.”  

Next up for West Ham is a trip to play Brighton & Hove Albion at Broadfield Stadium, Crawley in the Conti Cup on Wednesday, November 22 (7pm) whilst they return to WSL action once more against Arsenal at Meadow Park, Boreham Wood on Sunday 26 (2pm).

West Ham United Women: Arnold (Capt) Smith, Shimizu, Stringer, Tysiak, Ueki, Harries (Evans 74’) Filis, Asseyi, Cooke, Cissoko  Subs not used: Walsh, Atkinson, Ziu, Denton, Stapleton, Ademiluyi, Flannery

Aston Villa Women: van Domselaar, Mayling, Patten, Corsie (Capt) Daly, Dali (Staniforth 90+4’) Turner, Blindkilde-Brown (Nobbs 46’) Hanson (Salmon 68’) Leon (Lehmann 88’) Pacheco Subs not used: Leat, Staniforth, McLoughlin, Mullett, Magill

Referee: Keith Stroud

Assistant Referees: David Middleton & Harley Hetherington

Fourth Official: Amy Fearne 

Attendance: 1,406