Alisha Lehmann’s quickfire second-half double saw West Ham United come from behind to claim a vital and well-fought 2-1 victory against Brighton & Hove Albion.
The away side had taken the lead in dubious circumstances, as Danique Kerkdijk’s first-half header was deemed to have crossed the line, but Lehmann levelled on 80 minutes with a clever volleyed finish.
Less than three minutes later, Lehmann had her side’s second, scoring a cool strike for her fourth goal of the season and securing all three points for Matt Beard’s team.
A sunny but brisk Winter’s afternoon played host to the first home game of 2020 for West Ham, who enjoyed the best of the early possession, albeit chances were at a premium. It was Jacynta Galabadaarachchi who went closest just prior to the 20 minute-mark as her flicked effort from a recycled free-kick was held by goalkeeper Megan Walsh.
Courtney Brosnan has to be quick in the West Ham goal just moments later, stopping Katharina Baunach’s clearing header from looping back into her own net, before the shot-stopper punched away a powerful free-kick.
Brighton took the lead midway through the first-half in very contentious circumstances. A corner was cleared, and played back into the box, where Kerkdijk met the ball with her head. The ball struck the inside of the post, with the linesman adjudicating that it had completely crossed the line.
Despite West Ham complaints, the goal stood, and the away side had the lead.
Gilly Flaherty went closest to levelling in the first half, seeing a deft header go agonisingly wide.
It was the captain who had the first chance in the second period as well, as Katharina Baunach’s free-kick fell to the defender. Flaherty tried to turn the ball goalward, only to see her effort cleared.
The introduction of Filippa Wallen, Cho So-hyun and Julia Simic saw a change in formation for the Irons and the new role for Lehmann was clear. The Swiss international almost went through just after an hour but, under pressure, her effort was just wide.
There was no mistake ten minutes from time, however. Fantastic work by Longhurst saw the midfielder turn away from her defender and play in a deep cross. Lehmann was there, sweeping into the top of the net, sending Rush Green Stadium wild.
If the home supporters were happy about the leveller, they were ecstatic three minutes later. Lehmann was played through on goal and the No7 sprinted away. This time, no mistake, as the forward coolly side-footed in her second of the game.
West Ham United: Brosnan; Redisch Kvamme, Fisk, Flaherty (c), Baunach; Middag (Cho 58), Longhurst, Dali; Lehmann, Kiernan (Simic 70), Galabadaarachchi (Wallen 46)
Subs not used: Moorhouse, De Graaf, Kiszkis, Littlejohn
Goals: Lehmann 80, 83,
Brighton & Hove Albion: Walsh; Gibbons, Bowman (c), Whelan, Barton (Lundorf 90), Natkiel (Umotong 84), Kerkdijk, Green, Connolly, Williams, Le Garrec
Subs not used: Fiskerstrand, Roe, Nilden, Simpkins, Le Tissier
Goals: Kerkdijk 24,