Ladies win thriller

West Ham United Ladies won a thriller at Thurrock to overcome both the elements and a determined Cardiff City side in an FA Tesco Women's Premier League encounter that ended 3-2 to the Hammers.

The Hammers got off to a flying start and within minutes took the lead as Gemma Shepherd ran through from the halfway line before beating both a puddle and the Cardiff goalkeeper with a low drive. The hosts looked to build on their perfect start and kept the Cardiff No1 busy - the best save denying Carly Roache at the near post. However, from the resulting corner the lead was doubled when Becky Merritt rose unchallenged to head in off the post. Two up midway through the half the Hammers should have been able to put the game beyond their visitors as Clare Rogers swept past several tackles to burst along the by-line but elected to shoot for goal and the chance went begging.

Any thoughts of a cruise to victory for the Hammers were shattered five minutes after the restart when the visitors were awarded a spot-kick, which despite keeper Toni Anne Wayne clawing a hand at was powerful enough to, hit the back of the net.

The goal spurred West Ham back into life and having sent a free-kick over the bar, they restored their two goal advantage when Shepherd cut into the left hand side of the area and after her powerful shot  was saved, Rogers pounced to rifle the rebound home.

With the wind swirling again the Hammers were once again unable to build on the two goal cushion and a misplaced clearance allowed Cardiff to pull a goal back as the ball was fired home from 25 yards.

The visitors threw players forward in search of an equaliser but safe handling from Wayne and determined tackling from the Hammers back four saw them withstand the onslaught and take the three points.

West Ham United return to action on Sunday with a London derby at Crystal Palace.