Downham up for cup

West Ham United Ladies 2-1 Reading Ladies

A late winner from Nina Downham sent West Ham United Ladies into the quarter-finals of the FA Women's Premier League Cup at home to National League side Reading.

Emma Thomas struck her third goal of the season to open the scoring in the 12th minute. However, Reading drew level on 32 minutes through Fran Kirby but, just as everyone was thinking about extra time, Downham scored to make certain of victory for the Hammers.

The visitors came to Thurrock expecting the win and clearly demonstrated they were a very capable football side. They were evenly matched by a West Ham side full of confidence and self-belief themselves.

West Ham opened the scoring when a quick break split the Reading back four, Becky Merritt's pass into the path of Thomas found her with the goal at her mercy and she side-footed in the opener.

The game continued to be a typical cup tie being played at a frenetic pace from end to end. The Hammers defence restricted the Reading attack to long-range efforts keeping keeper Toni-Anne Wayne busy as she pulled off save after save.

Just after the half-hour mark, a fine run down the right flank by Reading's Kirby ended with a super strike into the far corner of the net - bringing the sides back on level terms.

In the second half, Reading started to exert more pressure on the West Ham goal and once again Wayne had to be at her best to pull of three first-class saves while another effort crashed against the woodwork and away to safety. At the other end, Thomas also saw her shot strike the crossbar.

Just as the additional 30 minutes seemed certain, the Hammers went on the attack again. From a corner, the ball was only partially cleared to Joanne Woodgates. Her shot was saved but Downham was on hand to convert and send the Hammers through.