West Ham United 0-1 Manchester City
Barclays Women’s Super League, Chigwell Construction Stadium, Sunday 15 January
West Ham United Women fell to a narrow 1-0 defeat at home to Manchester City in their first match since returning from the festive break.
Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw’s low finish early in the second-half was the difference in a game of few clear-cut chances at Chigwell Construction Stadium.
Viviane Asseyi forced City into a late block with a shot on the counter-attack while Abbey-Leigh Stringer and Grace Fisk forced clearances off the line in a goalmouth scramble, but neither effort was enough take a share of the spoils.
Both West Ham and City stood together pre-match to pay tribute to the life of Joint-Chairman David Gold, with the players joined by both sets of coaches and fans in applauding in his memory.
The early possession, and pressure, was all City’s, with the home side challenging the visitors to break down their compact unit. Five straight corner in the opening proceedings came to an end when Lauren Hemp saw an effort blocked by Risa Shimizu.
Chloe Kelly has a low effort saved by Mackenzie Arnold before Lisa Evans led a counter-attack, which Dagný Brynjarsdóttir saw blocked away.
Hemp found space to exploit on 16 minutes, pulling her effort across the face of goal. Asseyi would then take the Hammers on the counter-charge, firing a strike which was blocked out for a corner.
How the Irons did not score from the set-piece was almost inexplainable, which both Abbey-Leigh Stringer and Grace Fisk seeing low shots blocked on the line. City would find their feet and clear.
Hemp would again fire wide for City but it would be the hosts who ended the first-half stronger, with Kate Longhurst seeing her effort from the edge of the box blocked and a wicked, deep, cross just narrowly evading Asseyi’s outstretched studs.
As the match ticked into added time, Longhurst found Shimizu with an incredible pass. The full-back sped up the byline and tried a shot from the narrow angle, which Ellie Roebuck was forced to tip away.
Having finished the first half on the front foot, the Hammers were caught out by a Castellanos through-pass just five minutes into the second. Shaw latched onto the pass and saw off the challenge. Arnold came out to claim but the City striker went around the goalkeeper, tucking into the corner.
To West Ham’s credit, the home side immediately went on the hunt for an equaliser and came close to finding it just four minutes after. Lisa Evans’ free-kick was met by the towering header of Fisk, but the centre-back’s effort was over the bar.
Looking to add more attacking impetus, Konchesky introduced Emma Snerle and Izzy Atkinson to the fray, with the former involved in a big chance on 85 minutes. The midfielder threaded a ball through to Asseyi, who looked to have been brought down in the box. Referee Amy Fearn adjudged the foul to be in City’s favour again.
Shaw hit the base of the far post not long after, going close to a second for the visitors, before Arnold produced a save-of-the-season contender to deny Castellanos from close range.
A late-free-kick gave the Hammers the opportunity to load the City penalty box with bodies but Cissoko’s dinked effort was claimed by Roebuck, inflicting a narrow defeat on the hosts.
West Ham United: Arnold, Smith, Cissoko, Fisk, Shimizu, Longhurst (Snerle 56), Stringer, Brynjarsdottir ©, Hayashi, Evans (Atkinson 81), Asseyi
Subs not used: Hillyerd, FIlis, Cairns, Houssein, Flannery