Cardiff City Ladies 0-3 West Ham United Ladies
West Ham United Ladies secured their third straight win to remain second in the FA Tesco Women's Premier League South after beating Cardiff 3-0 on Sunday.
The Hammers took the lead through an own goal before two strikes from the in-form Sam Pittuck ensured an impressive win at the Cardiff Athletics Stadium.
The Welsh side went into the match one place behind their guests knowing that a win would mean they leapfrog above them in the table. As the sun shone down in the Welsh capital it was West Ham United that started brightest as they forced a corner within five minutes. It was cleared as far as Jess Barling, who crossed back into the area where a Cardiff defender's sliced clearance ended up in the back of her own net.
The visitors were knocked by an injury to central defender Carly Roache on fifteen minutes after she was caught late while intercepting a through-ball. Manager Tony Marshal brought on Leah Cowan to play on the right side of midfield with Rosey Sullivan moving to centre-half and Clare Rogers switching to right-back.
The new formation seemed to work as the visitors started to press forward further, with Nat Grafton's pace causing particular problems for her markers. One such explosion of speed saw her beat two defenders before pulling the ball back for Lindsey Morgan, whose well-placed shot was spectacularly saved by the Cardiff goalkeeper. Tracey Duxbury then crossed for substitute Cowan but she put her header narrowly over the bar.
Toni Munro, who was starting in goal in place of Paris Smith, had to be alert to tip over a dangerous cross in what was to be Cardiff's best effort of the opening period. The visitors showed them how it was done, though, minutes later as they doubled their advantage. A patient build-up from the back saw Rogers exchange passes with Marshall and then Morgan, who played a superb through ball for Pittuck. The striker took the ball in her stride and beat two defenders before applying a superb left-footed finish into the bottom corner of the net to ensure the visitors went in 2-0 up at the break.
Cardiff came back strongly after the re-start and Jade Dempster and Sullivan had to be alert to deal with several high balls into the area from a side containing several Wales internationals. At the other end, the visitors had several chances to extend their advantage - the most notable being a shot saved from Grafton after a defence-splitting pass from Morgan.
The pressure eventually told as a 35-yard pass from Dempster was met by Pittuck's head for her second of the game. That goal put the match beyond Cardiff's reach and ensured all three points were travelling back to east end of London.
Manager Marshall was understandably pleased with the result. He said: "This was a real team performance. We weren't allowed to play our usual game but we competed and earned the right to play. We should have had at least two more goals but we are obviously delighted to come here and get this kind of result as last season it would have been a big ask.
"I thought our back five particularly impressed, especially considering the loss of Carly [Roache]. We had three 16-year-olds on show again today who are improving every week."
West Ham United Ladies face crunch matches against Charlton Athletic and Millwall Lionesses in the coming weeks, when a continuation of the current winning run would be a major boost in the team's promotion charge.
West Ham United: Toni Munro, Jess Barling, Carly Roache (Leah Cowan 15, Sophie Walker 70), Jade Dempster, Rosey Sullivan, Zoe Marshall, Clare Rogers (Jo Wasahlo 70), Nat Grafton, Lindsey Morgan (c), Sam Pittuck, Tracey Duxbury