Keynsham Ladies FC 1-4 West Ham United Ladies
West Ham United secured an emphatic away win to move to the summit of the Premier League Southern Division for the first time in their history.
A 30-yard screamer from captain Lindsey Morgan opened the scoring before Sam Pittuck struck a second two minutes later from the penalty spot. Natalie Grafton then added a third before Carly Roache sealed the win on Sunday with a sublime solo effort. Keynsham rallied and got one goal back from the penalty spot just before the interval, but they were always fighting a losing battle.
West Ham United, who can cement their place at the top further when they play Barnet at Thurrock FC at 7.45pm on Wednesday evening, travelled to Keynsham with the home side sitting top of the league having recorded two wins from their opening two games. The visitors made several changes, including a new look midfield of Zoe Marshall, Pittuck, Morgan and debutant Alex Keown, who slotted in on the right-hand side. Rosey Sullivan started at right-back in a defence that had not conceded a goal in their opening two league matches.
Despite having a slightly more conservative formation than usual, the visitors demonstrated early on that they were not content to just sit back and showed plenty of attacking invention, with Morgan forcing a reaction save from the Keynsham keeper on five minutes after some neat interplay with Tracey Duxbury.
The early pressing paid off in the 13th minute with the opening goal, which will live long in the memory. Pittuck cleverly flicked the ball on to the feet of Morgan, who looked up and smashed an unstoppable drive into the top right-hand corner of the Keynsham net from distance. It was two soon after as Duxbury's quick feet saw her turn her marker in the penalty area only to brought down. Pittuck stepped up confidently to slot the penalty away.
If Keynsham thought things could not get any worse, they were quickly proved wrong with a third goal from their rampant opponents. A neat move, started at the back by Paris Smith, saw Roache feed Pittuck. Her exquisite cross-field pass found Grafton who ran through to score with a classy finish.
Roache then turned from provider to scorer with the pick of her side's goals. The defender received the ball in her own half, before running the full length of the pitch into the Keynsham penalty area and smashing the ball into the roof of the net. The home side got one back just before half-time through a penalty, that Smith very nearly kept out.
Keynsham changed their formation after the break and it appeared to have more success in halting the continuous claret and blue attack that had breached their defences so easily in the opening 45 minutes. The visitors also showed their rearguard resilience with Jade Dempster making several crucial interceptions as well as being dominant in the air.
Manager Tony Marshall, understandably, was 'really proud' of his side. He said: "This was a real team performance from a side who really do boast youth and experience and we are delighted with the team's fitness and work-rate. Everyone wanted the ball and the runs from midfield, particularly in the first half were perfect. Tracey Duxbury showed her ability and Jade Dempster won everything all game.
"The youngsters were also fantastic. - Alex Keown can really tackle and Rosy Sullivan looks like she has been playing at this level for years. Zoe Marshall gave us another dimension in midfield and allowed Sam and Lindsey to get up the pitch," he added.