Tottenham Hotspur Women vs West Ham Women match report: 96th minute Dean winner seals London derby win for Spurs
(Photo by Jacques Feeney/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Drama unfolded at the Hive where West Ham scored a last minute equaliser, only for Rianna Dean to strike back moments later to steal the show for Tottenham.

Spurs opened the scoring after 30 minutes through a piece of sumptuous quality from Emma Mitchell, and were on course to earn an invaluable three points.

However, Kenza Dali had other ideas, firing a late winner past Rebecca Spencer to make it 1-1, as the West Ham bench erupted with joy. 

There was no time to blink before the net was rippling again. Dean steered a header in from a cross to make it 2-1 and the Spurs bench had the last laugh.

Story of the game

The early stages consisted of toing and froing, with both sides creating opportunities, but struggling to establish any real momentum. 

Kit Graham was bright for Spurs, stretching the West Ham defence, while Rosella Ayanne, who came into the side after an encouraging cameo a week ago, created openings by darting in from the right flank.

It was Tottenham who broke the deadlock, taking the lead through Emma Mitchell. Mitchell, standing at the edge of the penalty area in acres of space, collected a clearance from a corner - the left-back curled the ball cutely off the far post and into the goal to mark her first start for the club. 

West Ham came out in the second half with the bit between their teeth and hoping to put pressure on Spencer, who replaced Chloe Morgan after she sustained a head injury.

However, Karen Hills and Juan Amoros had prepared their players for what was coming. Spurs were first to the ball in the second half, defending their goal like a fortress, while their front line, led by Ayanne’s relentless running, put pressure on the West Ham back four and limited their ability to build attacks. 

With ten minutes to play it seemed as though Tottenham had found the golden ticket by scoring their goal. West Ham huffed and puffed but the home side’s sheet remained clean. 

That was until an error from Josie Green in the box gifted an opportunity to Dali, who cooly slotted in an equaliser for the away side. The goal was a cruel blow to Spurs who had executed their game plan for 89 minutes. 

Tottenham rallied once more to score a deserved winner on the breakaway, as Angela Addison dribbled into the box and picked out Dean at the near post. Dean contorted her body to steer the ball in before wheeling away to celebrate one of Tottenham’s most satisfying wins this season. 

Takeaways from the Match

A huge win for Spurs

One thing was clear from this game: it was both business and personal. Tackles flew in, injuries were aplenty and both sets of fans made noise from the Legends Stand. Before kick-off West Ham were in touching distance with two games in hand. The pressure was on Tottenham, whose confidence was low, having won just once in their last five league games. 

But for the third time this season, Spurs found a way to beat West Ham. The win moves Tottenham above Manchester United and Everton into 5th place, and just one point behind Reading in 4th. At the final whistle, judging by the players' and coaches’ reactions, there was no doubt about what it meant to them.

Full-backs are Tottenham’s secret weapon

The role of the full-back in modern football is evolving, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson leading the way at Liverpool. They are increasingly being asked to cover large parts of the pitch and to make significant contributions both defensively and offensively. 

The game vs West Ham showed Karen Hills and Juan Amoros that Spurs, in Ashleigh Neville and Emma Mitchell, have two full-backs who are capable of operating in this way. The pair started together for the first time and their energy, robust defending and marauding forward runs were a key factor in Spurs picking up the three points. The head coaches may well look into giving the duo greater responsibility down their respective flanks to focus on overloading other areas of the pitch.

Player of the Match 

Emma Mitchell

Spurs have struggled to play out from the back recently but Emma Mitchell allowed them to beat the press with her quick, incisive passing. The Scot covered ground well, plugging gaps and breaking up play whenever West Ham got forward. Mitchell’s goal capped an excellent all-round display on her first start for the club. It would seem Arsenal have done their North London rivals a favour by letting Mitchell join on loan for the remainder of the season.