Controversial equaliser denies Hammers

A controversial equaliser from Brighton’s Amy Taylor denied West Ham Ladies all three points at Rush Green on Sunday 26 April.

The Hammers went ahead in the first half through Vicky Kinsman’s audacious volley from 20 yards, before Kirsty Barton levelled for the Seagulls. 

Shortly after the half time break, Brighton gave away possession outside their box and Emma Sherwood punished them, before Taylor’s controversial goal secured a point for the travelling side.

Ladies boss Julian Dicks was forced into two changes ahead of kick-off as Ruby Baxter replaced injured full-back Kerry Stimson who is expected to be out for the rest of the season. 

Kat Clifton made the bench, while April Bowers returned from illness to partner captain Stacey Little in the middle of the pitch.

The Hammers struggled in the early stages to forget their disappointing defeat to Lewes a week earlier while Brighton started strongly, aiming to take a step closer to the FA Women’s Premier League South title.

After Nikki Duncan had kept the Hammers level with a fantastic save from Fliss Gibbons, the Hammers almost took the lead when Little rose highest from a corner to head off the left hand upright.

With 22 minutes on the clock, the hosts shocked their South coast visitors by taking the lead when Kinsman’s volley caught Brighton keeper Faye Baker off her line and the ball ended up in the back of the net.

Brighton responded well by quickly looking for an equaliser. They got it when Gibbons’ low cross fell perfectly for Barton inside the penalty area who stroked home past Duncan.

In the second half, the visitors handed the lead back to the Hammers when Sherwood intercepted a loose pass outside the penalty area and curled an effort over Baker into the top corner.

The controversial moment came around eight minutes later when Taylor prodded home from close range after Duncan had been clattered to the floor. 

The assistant referee flagged for a foul and told the Hammers’ players he wanted to speak to the referee, however referee Chris Clarke totally ignored his assistant and awarded the goal.

After that, Brighton desperately looked for that vital winner that they needed to keep their title dreams alive, but Dicks’ side stood strong and secured themselves a point.

Up next for the Hammers is the London FA Capital Women’s Cup Final against Charlton Athletic at Harrow Borough FC on Wednesday 6 May. Kick-off is at 7:30pm with admission priced at £6 for adults and £3 for children.

West Ham United and Charlton Athletic will both be paying tribute to former player Katie Sheppard at the final, who passed away at the age of 20 last summer. Both captains will lay down respective shirts with ‘Shepps’ on the back during a minute of silence prior to kick-off.

The Hammers close their season with a trip South to Portsmouth where they could again make an impact on who wins the title. West Ham travel to Fareham Town FC on Sunday 10 May, kick off 2pm.

Ladies: Duncan, King, Revell, Baxter, Bottom, Bowers, Little (c), Blanchflower, Mellors (Smith), Kinsman, Sherwood. 
Subs not used: Sale, Clifton, Xidhas.