West Ham United share points in keenly-fought contest on Merseyside
Liverpool 1-1 West Ham United
Barclays FA Women's Super League
West Ham United shared the spoils and points with Liverpool in a keenly-fought, high-tempo contest on Merseyside.
Adriana Leon's smart finish in the fifth minute looked to have given the Hammers the perfect platform in Sunday's Barclays FA Women's Super League encounter, but Liverpool hit back in the second period and managed to claim a point thanks to Niamh Charles' close-range finish 13 minutes from time.
Looking to build on last week’s dramatic league victory over Manchester United, Matt Beard shuffled his offensive pack for the trip, reintroducing playmaker Cho and forward Leon to his starting eleven.
The home team enjoyed the first shooting opportunity of the match, Niamh Charles cutting in from the left before firing a strike towards the far post, but it was well headed behind by Kate Longhurst.
From the resulting corner kick, it looked like a red shirt would stoop onto the end of the delivery to head home from close range, only for Hammers defender Laura Vetterlein to stretch and get her body in the way bravely.
Moments later, and West Ham had the lead. A flat ball in from the right from Cecilie Redisch Kvamme was chested down skilfully by Adriana Leon on the penalty spot, and, despite being closed down rapidly, the Canadian got a low shot away which squeezed past Kitching into the bottom-right hand corner.
Four minutes later and Kvamme was causing problems for the home team again with her pinpoint deliveries, this time hanging a cross up to the back post where Thomas headed across goal. The dropping ball attracted Longhurst’s interest, but she couldn't get enough contact to steer it home.
Deliveries from the right were proving the Irons’ best outlet, and they came close again shortly afterwards when Thomas’ bouncing header required clearing from beneath the Liverpool bar – albeit with the referee’s whistle sounding a second later for a perceived foul in the build-up.
Leon's industry almost brought about the Hammers’ second when the No19 charged down Kitching’s clearance, the ball breaking to Baunach. The full-back's whipped cross found Thomas' head from close range – but somehow, on the line, a red shirt managed to turn it around the post.
With half-time rapidly approaching, another deep cross came close to bringing about a goal - Baunach stood it up and Thomas beat Kitching to the ball with her head, but it looped up and just wide.
The home team grew into the game as the half wore on, but that imposing trio of Flaherty, Hendrix and Vetterlein – with Brosnan consistently excelling in claiming crosses – saw them restricted largely to efforts from range.
Liverpool’s best moment of the half came shortly before the whistle when Lawley showed good trickery to jink her way into the box, but her high cross was too powerfully struck for Hodson to control her finish.
Into the second half, and Hammer of the Month Dali threatened early on with a rising shot from the edge of the area following Redisch Kvamme’s intelligent lay-off, drawing an acrobatic stop from Kitching.
Just short of the hour mark, another Baunach ball in was only half-cleared by the Liverpool defence out to Longhurst. A mass of bodies blocked her low strike and it almost fell to a white shirt on a couple of occasions, but sheer weight of numbers saw it clear.
Leon then came close to finding the top corner with a driving effort, before a perfectly-timed Flaherty tackle denied the fleet-footed Lawley an effort on goal.
With a quarter of the game remaining Liverpool had a golden chance to draw level, Vetterlein being adjudged to have reached the ball second to the Reds' forward, but Lawley struck the subsequent penalty kick wide of the mark.
The home team kicked on and, after a threatening spell, found a fortuitous equaliser when Charles deflected in a driven cross with her midriff, despite being in a contentious position.
With five minutes to go, Brosnan was forced into the pick of her saves, springing to her left to tip over a stunning long-range effort. That proved enough to claim her team a well-deserved point in a fiercely-fought fixture.
Liverpool: Kitching; Robe, Fahey, Bradley-Auckland (c), Linnett (Murray 83), Bailey, Hodson (Babajide 67), Lawley, Charles (Sweetman-Kirk 86), Roberts, Jane
Subs: Preuss, Bo Kearns, Rodgers
Goal: Charles 77
West Ham United: Brosnan; Redisch Kvamme, Hendrix (De Graaf 86), Flaherty (c), Vetterlein, Baunach, Cho (Middag 64), Longhurst, Dali, Thomas, Leon (Galabadaarachchi 77)
Subs: Moorhouse, Kiszkis
Goal: Leon 5
Booked: Longhurst, Redisch Kvamme, Middag