Late Reading comeback sees West Ham United defeated

West Ham v Reading

West Ham fell to a late second-half comeback as ten-woman Reading claimed an unlikely 3-2 win at Rush Green Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Three quickfire goals inside the last 15 minutes condemned the home team to a Barclay's FA Women's Super League loss which for the vast majority of the match had looked beyond their reach, particularly when smart strikes from Katharina Baunach and Leanne Kiernan had granted them a two-goal lead after 65 minutes. 

Matt Beard's side were looking to maintain the momentum built up from Wednesday’s 3-1 Continental League Cup win over Lewes, naming an unchanged outfield starting line-up for Sunday’s encounter.

The Irons subsequently made the perfect start when they were awarded an indirect free-kick inside the area in the fourth minute. Left-back Baunach stepped up to the mark, bending it beautifully into the far corner from the resulting lay-off – the summer signing’s first goal in Claret and Blue.

That injection of early confidence helped West Ham's technically gifted players come to the fore, and ten minutes later, Alisha Lehmann struck a 25-yard shot which initially seemed to be set too wide, but bent wickedly to force Reading keeper Moloney into a plunging save.

On 22 minutes, another inspired moment saw Dali's delicately chipped ball put Galabadaarachchi in behind. The 18-year-old was forced wide and appeared to have little to aim at, but her low cross-shot still caused some consternation in front of Reading's goal before being booted away.

Such intricate football became more and more prominent in the Irons’ approach play as the first half went on, with one cross-field pass from Katharina Baunach, and one Galabadaarachchi flick in particular, garnering the approval of the enthusiastic home crowd.

At the back, centre-backs Hendrix, Flaherty and Vetterlein marshalled the line impressively with a couple of solid interventions each, while sweeper keeper Moorhouse was often sharp out of the box to clear her lines.

The Hammers came closest to doubling their lead after 35 minutes when Galabadaarachchi’s low left-sided corner kick was flicked on at the near post by Hendrix, Moloney making a smart reaction save which led to a goalmouth scramble, ultimately falling in Reading's defensive favour.

Leanne Kiernan came close for the Hammers moments later when she capitalised on Leine’s loose touch inside the area, but from a narrowing angle, her snap-shot went wide of the top corner.

With the first half petering out, the competitive encounter spilled over for the first time, Reading’s Rachel Lowe and West Ham's Cecilie Redisch Kvamme coming together before the Royals player shoved her Hammers counterpart. The referee subsequently showed Lowe the red card for her reaction in the brief touchline fracas. 

Despite their numerical disadvantage, the visitors were quick out of the blocks in the second period, and almost equalised within two minutes of the restart, Fara Williams’ low free-kick from the edge of the ‘D’ striking the foot of Moorhouse’s left-hand post.

Moments later and the visitors came close again, Eikeland enjoying a free header at the far post from another set-piece – but the Reading striker got her header all wrong, and it sailed harmlessly wide.

As with the first half, however, the Hammers grew into the game as time wore on, and they made their superior numbers count after 65 minutes when Reading failed to clear Lehmann's corner at the first attempt - Kiernan gratefully stabbing home inside the six-yard area.

A sting remained in the tail.  As the game drifted towards its last 15 minutes, a quickfire double from Reading turned the game on its head. Kristine Leine first scrambled home a low corner to the near post which West Ham failed to deal with and then, just seconds later, Brooke Chaplen ran clear to fire low across Moorhouse and into the far corner.

Reading were all of a sudden brimming with confidence, and struck Moorhouse's woodwork once more with ten minutes remaining when Sophie Howard's long-range effort struck the underside of the bar, bouncing the right side of the line from a West Ham perspective.

The let-off did not last long as, seven minutes later, the Hammers once again struggled to clear a flat corner, the ball flashing across goal before being recycled into the six-yard area where Jade Moore was waiting to convert from close range.

Williams would once again hit the woodwork for Reading with a set-piece as the game ticked over towards injury time, but there was to be no further such luck for the Irons in five minutes of injury-time, Reading's late blitz proving the difference on a difficult afternoon at Rush Green Stadium.

West Ham United: Moorhouse; Redisch Kvamme, Flaherty (c), Hendrix, Vetterlein, Baunach (Middag 65), Dali, Longhurst, Lehmann, Kiernan, Galabadaarachchi (Leon 72)
Subs not used: Brosnan, Kiszkis

Goals: Baunach 4’, Kiernan 65'

Booked: Redisch Kvamme, Middag

Reading: Moloney; Leine, Williams, James, Allen, Eikeland, Utland (Pacheco 45), Moore, Chaplen, Rowe, Howard
Subs not used: Laws, Farrow, Bennink, Potter, Stewart

Goals: Leine 75', Chaplen 76', Moore 82'

Booked: Moloney

Sent off: Rowe (45+3')

Attendance: 1392