Ladies chopped down in New Forest

Forest Green Rovers midfielder Kirsty Richardson struck late on to steal the points as West Ham Ladies fell to a 1-0 FA Women’s Premier League Southern defeat on Sunday afternoon.

The Hammers came out strong at Slimbridge AFC and could have taken the lead on several occasions through midfielder Shirvae Edwards and strikers Lily Mellors and Whitney Locke, but were punished in the second period as Richardson’s long-range punt found the bottom corner of the net.

After picking up their first result of the season a week earlier against lower league Crystal Palace in the FA Women’s Premier League Cup Determining Round, manager Marc Nurse made two changes to the team that defeated the Eagles 3-0. Hannah Wheeler and midfielder Danni Ritson were replaced by Kayleigh Xidhas and regular Development Squad striker Locke.

Within the opening ten minutes in the New Forest, the Hammers had two golden opportunities to open the scoring. First, midfielder Kelley Blanchflower poked wide from 18 yards after fantastic build-up play by Emma Sherwood and captain Stacey Little, before Locke beat Rovers goalkeeper Abbie Morrisey to the ball before firing over the bar with the net gaping.

The visitors continued to push forward throughout the first half and had further chances to get themselves ahead through Mellors and Edwards, but neither managed to force Morrisey into a save.

Down the other end of the pitch, Forest Green striker Charlotte King and twin midfielders Karolayne and Kayanne Castro-Alencar were trying to cause problems but Xidhas, Katie Bottom, Kerry Stimson and Danica Revell stood strong to deny the hosts.

After the break, the Hammers were still having the lion’s share of the chances in front of goal but Little volleyed over from 18 yards before Sherwood’s effort was blocked by Morrisey.

With just over 20 minutes left to play, Nurse’s side got lucky when Richardson managed to beat the offside trap and round goalkeeper Aditi Chauhan, but she fell whilst shooting and failed to hit the target.

Eight minutes later, the Hammers gave Richardson far too much space to shoot from 20 yards and although the majority in attendance, including Chauhan, thought the ball was going to trickle wide, her shot found the bottom corner of the net to give the hosts the lead.

West Ham tried to get back into the game in the final ten minutes but their attempts unfortunately met the same conclusion as earlier chances by failing to beat Morrisey in the Forest Green goal.

Nurse’s team will hope to pick up their first league points of the season when they host local rivals C&K Basildon at AFC Hornchurch on Thursday 10 September at 7:45pm. Tickets are available online right now or on the gate next week!

Ladies: Chauhan, Bottom, Stimson, Revell, Xidhas, Little (c), Blanchflower (Miller), Sherwood, Edwards (Anderson-James), Mellors, Locke (Scott)
Subs not used: Ritson, Wheeler