West Ham United striker Martha Thomas believes her new side can learn a vital lesson from their late friendly defeat to Tottenham Hotspur.
The summer signing from Le Havre was making her first appearance at Rush Green Stadium in front of her new supporters in Claret and Blue, and duly introduced herself in style, opening the scoring after 23 minutes having converted well after a piercing run in behind.
Despite largely dominating the second half, however, the Hammers conceded two late goals to lose their final pre-season friendly, and Thomas believes her side need to develop the ability to dig in during such tricky spells.
“To be controlling the game for as long as we were, and to get that goal in the first half, taking it into the second half, we had a lot of positives, but it just wasn’t good enough,” said the striker.
“Matt Beard said at the end that you could see it coming. Those are the kind of moments that we need to get control of the game. We need to slow the game down as much as we can to knock opponents out of their momentum.
“After that first goal they just kept coming back at us, so we really needed to get a grip of the game and try and avoid losing.”
After that first goal they just kept coming back at us, so we really needed to get a grip of the game and try and avoid losing.
Despite the ultimately disappointing result, Thomas was delighted to make her first appearance – and score her maiden strike – for the Club in front of the home supporters.
She said: “It was thrilling. It’s always nice to get that first goal, especially in front of the fans, and I’m hoping to do it a lot more this season. It was a really good feeling.
“I can’t even remember what happened with it! At the end of the day, I know it hit the back of the net, so no matter how it happened, I’m really pleased with it.”
Although the friendly was a disappointing end to pre-season, Thomas is happy that preparations for the new Barclays FA Women’s Super League 2019/20 season have been productive – and might even provide insight into their opponents moving forwards.
“It’s been good. We’ve been challenged,” she said. “Some of the teams we’ve played against are teams that we’re playing against this season, so it’s good that we’re going into games knowing our opponents better.
“It’s been long, it’s been tough, but now it’s time to really kick on when we play Arsenal next weekend.”
West Ham United women's team begin their league campaign against the reigning league champions next Sunday, and Thomas believes her side have everything to play for heading into the fixture.
“We played them in pre-season and we had really good moments and we could’ve put some goals in the back of the net,” she said.
“Leading into that, we think that we can get a grip of the game. We know how they play, and obviously they’re a great team, but we really think that we can bring it to them.
“In pre-season you can go into games feeling a bit banged up or a bit tired, but now we get a little bit more recovery time, so it’ll be fresh legs every Sunday, which will be nice.”