The visitors secured their first win in the FA Women’s Super League since the 2-0 opening day win over Birmingham City.
Rianna Jarrett’s astute finish was enough to settle the contest in the 69th minute.
Jarrett lobbed the ball past Hammers goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold and followed up to slot the ball at the back of the net.
West Ham remain winless in all four opening Women’s Super League matches this season as they sit in ninth position.
Brighton were without their manager Hope Powell and other backroom staff after testing positive for COVID-19 and are self-isolating under the current government guidelines.
Story of the match
Brighton were the dominant side in the first half. Jarrett’s long-range effort went narrowly wide.
Moments later, Aileen Whelan’s first-time effort tested the West Ham goalkeeper. Brighton’s no.7 had more time and acres of space to give the visitors an opening goal.
The host came close to open the deadlock through centre-forward Martha Thomas, after meeting a long ball and through on goal. The 24-year-old’s powerful volley was brilliantly blocked by Brighton keeper Cecile Fiskerstrand.
West Ham started to grow more into the game and the Scottish international had another goal-scoring opportunity in the 36th minute. After some brilliant work on the left by Katherina Svitkova, West Ham’s no.9 low effort went just wide of the far post.
The hosts continued to dominate and displayed some free-flowing football when Laura Vetterlein, Cho So-Hyun and Adriana Leon were involved in some sharp link-up play, it almost led the ball through to Emily van Egmond, but Danique Kerkdijk made an important block to deny the Australian international.
The game remained goalless at half-time, with the home side carrying more attacking threat heading into the second-half.
Brighton were showing signs of danger on the counter attack and almost gone ahead form a set piece through Kayleigh Green’s fine from the left, but the West Ham backline raced back into their penalty area and skipper Gilly Flaherty scrambled the ball clear of danger. The visitors continued to appeal for a penalty.
Albion came close again from a set piece when Dani-Bowman’s swinging corner sailed through Arnold and tip the ball over the crossbar.
West Ham’s Alisha Lehmann produced some fine work to retain possession from deep. The No.7 slipped the ball to Thomas before finding some space in the penalty but, she had to spin to find some room to strike, her clipped effort flew past the wide post.
Brighton produced a fine breakthrough with the next counter attack, Jarrett lobbing the ball over the onrushing Arnold and beating the West Ham defence to nod the loose ball home.
The Seagulls should have doubled their lead, but Inessa Kaagman’s close-range effort looked destined for the bottom corner, but it was well saved by Arnold. The Australian goalie did well to stop Kaagman’s right-foot shot wide of goal.
West Ham continued to search for an equaliser when both substitutes Kenza Dali and Laura Vetterlein’s efforts went straight at the hands of Fiskerstrand.
Time was running out for the Hammers and won three corners in stoppage time but failed to find an equaliser against an organised and drilled Albion defence.
Takeaways from the match
Breaking down Brighton
Prior to this game, Matt Beard and his side knew that Brighton and Hove Albion are proving themselves to be a difficult side to break down. Brighton have drawn against Manchester City and Everton at home and clearly shows that they will be a tricky opponent and, once again, they were at their best to earn all three points at the Chigwell Construction Stadium.
Both sides have played each other in the Continental League Cup last month at Broadfield Stadium. Although West Ham took the lead, Brighton showed their ability by turning the game around and fighting till the end. The Hammers eventually won the game in the resulting penalty shoot-out. Matt Beard’s side were aware that they need to show the same confident mentality from their previous two matches in order to take three points again today.
It’s not a lie that West Ham were more of an attacking threat in the first half, with some great free-flowing football and winning intense battles. The Hammers grew in confidence and did so well to break down Brighton when they had goalscoring opportunities but, they failed to capitalise on Martha Thomas chances early in the first half. Those missed chances proved costly yet again which history repeated for Matt Beard’s side. It gave Brighton some confidence to snatch something out of this game.
Despite showing their solidity and aggression in the first half, Brighton came on the front foot and started to exploit West Ham’s lapse of concentration. The dynamic of the game completely changed and Brighton dominated the rest of the game. They create chance after chance, breaking up play and were physical, after Jarrett’s opener in the 69 minutes. Brighton were brilliant to see the game out as they were hard to break down.
West Ham players never gave up but, they knew it was all over and will be a mounting task to even win the game. They showed quality to fight, no doubt. But they needed added quality in the final third to be up against the likes of Arsenal in being one of the best teams in the world. Lots of positive to take for West Ham and hoping that this current group of players do stay at the club for the long-term as it’s key if they were to grow into title contenders.
Player of the match
Rianna Jarrett – It has been a rocky road for the Irish international as she suffered three cruciate ligament injuries before her move to Brighton. Not a perfect timing for her dream move to the Women’s Super League due to the start of the COVID-19 outbreak back in March. She didn’t have the opportunities to have some game time during the 19/20 campaign.
Brighton manager Hope Powell gave the 26-year-old a chance today and proved a point with a clever finish, lobbing the keeper and showing physicality to head the ball at the back of the net on the follow-up. She did brilliantly to slot the ball home as well as batting against the West Ham defence. The Seagulls hope that it will give Jarrett a major confidence boost to score lots of goals this season and help Brighton climb up in the Women’s Super League.