West Ham registered their first win of the 2020/21 campaign, beating Reading 3-0 to secure top spot in Group D of the FA Continental Tyres League Cup.
Alisha Lehmann opened the scoring in the 14th minute. This was followed by early second half goals from Emily van Egmond and Rachel Daly.
The visitors missed both penalties in either half, with Lauren Bruton’s first half spot kick saved and former Arsenal forward Danielle Carter striking wide of the post proved costly for Reading as they climb down to second in Group D on three points.
Story of the match
Early pressure from the visitors as they were close to leave an early mark in the game. Reading earned their first corner of the game in the space of two minutes, which was executed by Emma Mitchell, but it was palmed away by West Ham goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold at the front post.
Reading gathered some momentum and had their first effort on goal through Jess Fishlock’s long-range effort goes wide of the post.
It was West Ham who broke the deadlock with their first effort on goal.
West Ham captain Gill Flaherty played a superb ball forward, finding Martha Thomas bursting past the Reading defence and was one-one with goalkeeper Grace Maloney. The 24-year-old tapped the ball sideways, finding Lehmann who comfortably slotted the ball into the net.
The Irons continued to pile more pressure into the opposition’s penalty area. This time, Laura Vetterlein tried her luck with a driving effort from long-range was deflected away, before the 28-year old’s header hit the frame of the post.
Reading started to find their rhythm as they searched for an equaliser and were rewarded a spot kick on 34 minutes when Mitchell was fouled by Daly in the penalty area. Penalty to Reading.
Bruton stepped up to take the penalty kick, looking to score again at the Chigwell Construction Stadium, as she did last month.
The 27-year-old’s spot-kick was denied by keeper Arnold who dived to her right to save the penalty to keep West Ham in the game.
The Royals had a glorious opportunity to equalise before half-time when Danielle Carter burst through the West Ham defence and goes into the box, but she shot wide of the post.
Six minutes into the second half, West Ham doubled their advantage when West Ham’s no.9 squared the ball to van Egmond, to slot the ball home from close range.
At the other end, Kelly Chambers side got their second penalty of the game following Lois Joel’s rash tackle on Emma Mitchell, who was brought down. The former Arsenal striker took responsibility for the spot-kick and sends her shot wide.
Reading were punished yet again in the second half saw West Ham calming their third goal before the hour mark.
It all started with some brilliant work by Lehmann who done well to fight the ball back and finds Thomas, who sets up Daly to comfortably slot the ball away from close range.
Matt Beard’s side fought hard to their clean sheet intact and in pole position to top Group D, with just one game to play. West Ham will travel to Crayford to play Charlton in two weeks’ time.
Takeaways from the match
Free flowing football and clear-cut opportunities
This was West Ham’s best performance so far this season. They earned their first win and clean sheet which gives Matt Beard’s side huge confidence to progress in the Continental Cup and in the Women’s Super League.
The Hammers showed their physicality and aggression throughout the game, even when they lost the ball and always stayed compact. It wasn’t long ago that both sides faced each other in the FA WSL when Reading were eventual winners. West Ham could have earned either a win or post last time round. This time, they took their chances and it has paid dividends for Matt Beard’s side.
The team’s character and resilience shined through the team and should kickstart their season as they endured difficulties with injuries and inconsistencies of team selection. With club captain Flaherty leading the back line which they dealt with cross and set plays brilliantly. Cross and set plays are the two areas West Ham have been conceding lots of goals in previous games.
West Ham handled Reading’s game plan brilliantly as the Royals play quite a high line so the Hammers knew that they had to press and get it behind to cause Reading problems. It was clearly evident for Lehmann’s opening goal in the 14th minute.
Overall, that’s a huge positive and started to see the rewards. They dealt with everything Reading threw at the Hammers.
Player of the match
Martha Thomas – West Ham’s no.9 produced a fine performance and providing the assists for all three of West Ham’s goals.
The Scottish international made her second start of the season after recovering from her injury. She was physical, quick and great with the ball on her feet. The 24-year-old can be difficult for centre-backs to deal with. She is really good at link-up play and a great team player.
She is a good player who is not just a goalscorer but can provide assists and helps the team to the best of her ability. All-round professional performance from Martha Thomas.