West Ham United Ladies picked up an impressive 3-1 FA Tesco Women's Premier League win over promotion-chasing Reading at Thurrock on Sunday.
Two goals from top scorer Gemma Shepherd and one from Tracey Duxbury saw the Hammers send the visitors, who had gone into the game sitting second in the table, back to Berkshire defeated.
Tony Marshall's side had gone into the game on a high after a creditable draw with National Division side Millwall in the League Cup the previous week. Reading were expected to give the Hammers another stern test after they had won four of their first give games this season.
The home side started brightly and took the lead on 12 minutes when Shepherd flicked the ball to Tracey Duxbury. The midfielder cut the ball back to Griffin, who forced the ball home. The visitors tried to hit back soon after and only a magnificent save from Toni-Anne Wayne kept her side ahead. The West Ham United goalkeeper was forced into a full-stretch stop to tip a 25-yard drive onto the post.
The second half got underway with the visitors throwing everything they had towards the hosts' penalty area, but some excellent defending, particularly from Rosey Sullivan and Alex Keown, prevented them from getting back into the game.
West Ham soon re-found their feet through some quick and incisive passing, but it was a long free-kick from Toni-Anne Wayne that saw them double their lead. The stopper's long ball forward created havoc in the Reading penalty box and Shepherd was on hand to prod the ball home.
Reading got one back, however, when a free-kick from the halfway line was launched into the West Ham box and their striker climbed highest to head home.
West Ham made two changes on 70 minutes as Clare Rogers came on for the injured Zoe Marshall and Megan Jiggins replaced Jess Barling. And within a minute the Hammers had killed the game off with their third. A great run by Carly Roache saw her lay the ball off to Shepherd, who turned her marker and played a ball in to Griffin, who slotted home from 12 yards.
After the game manager Tony was full of praise for his side's display. He said: "It was a great team performance which will fill the girls with confidence against one of the favourites for promotion.
"Special mention must go to the back five, who not only defended well but were involved in so much of the forward play. There was some real leadership from Captain Carly Roache and Striker Gemma Shepherd.
West Ham United Ladies: Toni-Anne Wayne, Nat Grafton, Rosey Sullivan, Jess Barling (Megan Jiggins 72), Tracey Duxbury, Zoe Marshall (Clare Rogers 70) Carly Roache (c), Kayleigh Xidhus, Gemma Shepherd, Holly Griffin