Ross fires Hammers into FA Cup semi-finals
Jane Ross’ first-half tap in proved to be the difference as West Ham United booked a place in the SSE Women’s FA Cup semi-finals, after a 1-0 win at Aston Villa.
Ross’s finish on the rebound came after the Irons’ best move of the game, striking first time after Leanne Kiernan saw a fantastic effort well-saved.
Championship side Villa proved to be a mighty match for the Hammers, but the FA Women’s Super League held on to claim the semi-final spot.
With a place in the last four at stake, Matt Beard made one change to his starting XI, opting for a more attacking line-up. Adriana Leon came into the side for Lucienne Reichardt, with the team lining up in a 4-4-2.
It was the home side that enjoyed the best of the early chances, with Villa winger Jodie Hutton hitting the post within five minutes.
Cho So-hyun, Leanne Kiernan and Alisha Lehmann had half-chances – the latter sending a begging header just wide – before West Ham took the lead with their best move of the first half.
Cho found Ria Percival out wide, and the New Zealand international’s good work saw the ball fall to Leanne Kiernan. The No8 unleashed an excellent strike, which was well stopped by Rogers, but Ross showed her striker’s instinct; tucking home on the rebound.
Villa would have been disappointed to be a goal down, having shown their quality in the first period. Somehow Hanssen was unable to bury a one-on-one, with Anna Moorhouse pouncing on the ball, while West Ham’s Kiernan curled wide just moments later.
Despite leading at the interval, head coach Beard made two changes at half-time. Kate Longhurst and Adriana Leon were withdrawn, as Brianna Visalli and Lucienne Reichardt entered the fray.
A cagey opening to the second period was broken by Villa, with Anna Moorhouse forced into another good stop in the centre of her goal.
Lehmann went close to putting West Ham two goals in front, striking the woodwork with a simply terrific strike from distance, while Kiernan should have killed the game when the Swiss international played in a cross, but the striker’s effort was wide from close range.
Brooke Hendrix stood tall when Villa pressed forward, blocking a shot that seemed certain to test Moorhouse, while Villa captain Richards saw a header go wide.
Ross and Kiernan would both send another chance each wide, but the Scottish international’s first half finish was enough to send West Ham into the final four of the FA Cup!
Aston Villa Ladies: Rogers; Brown, Ale, N’Dow, Richards (c); Hassall, West, Hanssen (Hurley 82), Hutton; Haywood, Smith (Baptiste 90)
Subs not used: Aquirre, Hall, Gibson, Elsmore
West Ham United: Moorhouse; Percival, Flaherty, Hendrix, Simon; Lehmann, Longhurst (Reichardt 46), Cho, Leon (Visalli 46); Ross (Rafferty 86), Kiernan
Subs not used: Spencer, Sampson, Kmita
Goals: Ross 26