#50GreatestMatches - #43 West Ham United women 1-1 Reading (West Ham won 4-3 on penalties)

West Ham United celebrates its 125th anniversary on 29 June – and as part of our celebrations we're counting down to the date with the Club’s #50GreatestMatches brought to you by Monster Energy!

Since the Hammers were formed as Thames Ironworks FC in 1895, we have played in excess of 5,500 matches – reaching five FA Cup finals - and one women's FA Cup final, lifting European silverware and competing across the globe and enjoying thousands of memorable moments.

With your help and recommendations, we've whittled down that list of 5,500 matches to a top 50, featuring landmark goals, trophies held aloft, heroic individual performances and remarkable collective efforts.

We continue the #50GreatestMatches countdown today by looking back at an historic match for our women's team...

West Ham United women's team had only turned fully professional less than twelve months previously, but they headed to Reading on 14 April 2019 on the verge of making history.

Just the Royals stood between them an a first Wembley appearance - and Matt Beard's side were not to be denied in a dramatic FA Cup semi-final.  

It was shoot-out delight for the Hammers as Cho So-hyun's deciding penalty put the Irons into showpiece event for the domestic women's game. 

Having drawn 1-1 over 90 minutes - with Rachel Furness scoring a header before Alisha Lehmann levelled in the second half - the semi-final went to extra time.

The added 30 minutes wasn't enough to separate the sides, and penalties were needed, with South Korea's Cho netting the deciding spot-kick to secure a win for Matt Beard's side, 4-3 on penalties. 

The semi-final at Adams Park was packed with over 2,000 supporters as both teams looked to make the most of the friendliest draw either could have hoped for. 

It wasn’t until the 13-minute mark when the first chance came for Reading. It was Fara Williams with a speculative long-range effort that was easy for Anna Moorhouse to catch.

Moments later Reading were back on the attack and looked through on goal, but a great sliding tackle from Claire Rafferty stopped the attack.
Two minutes later Lehmann found herself with the ball on the wing and fired a low cross in that was defended for a corner. So-Hyun played in the resulting corner and found Brooke Hendrix who tried a speculative overhead kick that didn’t pay off.
The final chance of the first-half fell to Gilly Flaherty on 44 minutes when she got her head to the corner, but it went over the bar and for a goal kick. 
Three minutes in to the second-half Reading opened the scoring. A hopeful lofted cross was played in and it was headed in to the corner of the goal by Furness.

Just before the hour mark, the Irons got themselves level. Poor defending from the Royals saw the ball fall to Brianna Visalli, she passed it to Lehmann who poked it in to the bottom corner.
Reading earned themselves a penalty on 69 minutes when Flaherty was judged to have handled the ball inside the penalty area. Williams stepped up for the Royals and hit the post to keep the game level.

Going in to extra time, Williams could have won the game for Reading as she went through one on one with Moorhouse but could only fire wide.
The Hammers celebrate their FA Cup semi-final win

At the end of the first-half of extra-time it looked as though Reading had scored, but Rafferty was there to clear the ball off the line and keep the game level.
Despite playing another 15 minutes there were only half chances for both sides, but in the closing seconds Visalli fired a shot that went just wide of the far post.
The game went to penalties and it was the Hammers who came out winners scoring four out of their six penalties and taking them off to their first ever Women’s FA Cup final!

Although their cup dreams were to be ended at the home of football by Manchester City, the Hammers had made a real mark in their first season at the top level of the women's game.

Don't miss #42 on Tuesday - as the Hammers created more history at the new home of one of their fiercest rivals...