Hammers held by Royals in WSL opener

WSL Longhurstr


West Ham United’s start to life in the FA WSL began with an entertaining stalemate, as the Irons drew 0-0 with Reading FC Women. 

A closely fought game between the two sides was filled with chances, with Alisha Lehmann going close in the first period, striking the woodwork with a thunderous effort. 

Becky Spencer continued to impress with the Irons, making a superb stop with her foot before palming away a strong free-kick. 

Both sides continued to press for the winning finish but the honours would end up even in West Ham’s debut in the top flight of women’s football, against a side that finished fourth last campaign.

The first chance of an thrilling fixture went to the Hammers as debutant Erin Simon swung in a wicked cross, which was unfortunately missed by the four attacking Irons. 

On 11 minutes came the best opportunity of the first half. Lehmann found herself through on goal after a long-ball, and her rocket of a strike was past goalkeeper Moloney, only to come back off the woodwork. 

Brianna Visalli would then see a shot go over the bar, before Becky Spencer was called into action the other end of the pitch, making a superb stop with her foot to deny Bruton from close range. 

Reading continued to press for the opening goal, but Simon again showed her quality with an excellent last-ditch tackle, sending the shot away for a corner.

West Ham started the second half brightly and looked close to opening the scoring, as Simic attempted an effort after dancing into space. Once again, however, the shot was stopped by Moloney. 

It was Reading’s turn to go close as the clock ticked past the hour mark. Chaplen’s low free-kick almost snuck in at the near-post, only for Spencer to make a superb stop before the ball was pushed away. 

The goalkeeper was again on hand to deny the Royals the opening goal eight minutes later, putting the away side under enough pressure to force their shot wide. 

Substitute Leanne Kiernan fired an effort just over only four minutes after coming on, before Brooke Hendrix had the Irons’ best chance of the half on 80 minutes. 

The American centre-back rose highest to meet captain Gilly Flaherty’s free-kick, but her header was somehow kept out by Moloney.

West Ham United: Spencer; Simon (Percvial 73), Hendrix, Flaherty (c), Rafferty; Simic (Longhurst 57), Reichardt, Visalli; Lehmann, Ross, De Graaf (Kiernan 68)

Subs not used: Moorhouse, Sampson, Kmita,

Reading FC Women: Moloney; Williams, Pearce (c), Furness, Allen, Davison (Jane 86), Bruton, Harding, Chaplen, Potter, Howard

Subs not used: Pacheco, Estcourt, Laws, Wooham