Hammers fall to Manchester United

Adriana Leon

West Ham United 2-4 Manchester United
Barclays FA Women’s Super League
Dagenham & Redbridge Stadium
Sunday 18th October 2020

West Ham United were beaten 4-2 by Manchester United in the Barclays FA Women's Super League on a difficult Sunday afternoon at the Chigwell Construction stadium.

Quick-fire goals from Alessia Russo and Tobin Heath put the visitors in control, before Emily van Egmond got a goal back for the Hammers. 

Russo added her second before the break and despite Rachel Daly’s chipped effort setting up a tense finish, although Manchester United triumphed adding a late fourth through Christen Press.

The defeat leaves the Hammers 10th in the Barclays FA WSL after just five rounds of fixtures.

West Ham United were boosted by the return of Martha Thomas and Laura Vetterlein to the starting line-up after their recovery from injury.

It was Manchester United who fashioned the first opportunity of the afternoon in just the second minute. The returning Vetterlein was dispossessed by Tobin Heath, the forward fed Alessia Russo but Gilly Flaherty was on hand to clear the danger with the forward bearing down on goal.

The Hammers grew into the contest at Dagenham & Redbridge Stadium. Matt Beard’s side were content to sit deep and counter-attack, using the pace of Rachel Daly and Adriana Leon to cause the Manchester United defence problems.

The visitors kept the ball well and forced the Hammers to defend deeper and deeper as the half wore-on. The home side however, stuck to their task and defended astutely under a barrage of attacks from the Red Devils.

For all their defensive efforts, the Hammers nearly gifted the Red Devils the opener. A breakdown in communication in the middle of the park left Heath with time and space to fashion a shot. The experienced forward missed the target on this occasion but remained a constant threat down the right hand-side.

The pressure finally told on the West Ham defence in the 20th minute, Ella Toone’s cross was turned back across goal by Leah Galton and Alessia Russo was able to finish from close-range to give Manchester United the lead.

Not long after and the visitors were further ahead. Kate Longhurst was again dispossessed in the West Ham midfield, leaving United with a three-on-two in the final third. Katie Zelem fed Heath; whose driven effort left Arnold with no chance in the West Ham goal to double the Manchester United advantage.

The Hammers rallied after going two-behind, keeping the ball better in midfield with Dali a constant presence in all of their positive play.

In the 39th minute the Irons got themselves back in the game. A marauding run down the right-hand side by Cecille Redisch-Kvamme found Dali in space. The French International whipped a fierce across into United box, finding Emily Van Egmond to head home for her first goal of the season.

The joy-was to be short lived however, as the visitors regained their two-goal cushion shortly before the break. An excellent passing move saw Galton played in-behind down the left-hand side, the winger picked out a pinpoint cross to Russo for her second of the afternoon, leaving Matt Beard much to ponder at the break.

West Ham emerged from half-time with a renewed energy, playing much higher up the pitch and in-turn keeping United camped in their own half as they looked to reduce the arrears.

The bright start for the Hammers could have easily turned into a goal, Leon’s driven strike from range needed a fingertip save from Mary Earps in the Manchester United goal to prevent it from nestling in the corner. 

Not long after Leon’s effort, Beard turned to his substitutes, introducing Alisha Lehmann, So-Hyun Cho and Katerina Svitkova just before the hour mark to try and turn the tide of the game.

The Manchester United defence did well to blunt the Hammers attacking charges with the Irons reduced to taking aim from distance. 

As the game headed toward its conclusion, the home side were offered a lifeline. A fine individual run from Daly saw her beat two United defenders and apply a sumptuous chipped finish over Earps to set-up a grandstand finish.

A frenetic final ten minutes ensued but it was the visitors who extended their advantage as time waned. A lofted Lucy Staniforth free-kick evaded a host of bodies in the West Ham box and United substitute Christen Press was on-hand to turn the ball home to seal the 4-2 victory.

West Ham United: Arnold, Redisch, Flaherty ©, Vetterlein (Joel 73’), Fisk, Longhurst (Cho 59’), Dali, Van Egmond, Leon (Lehmann 59’), Daly, Thomas (Svitkova 59’)

Subs not used: Brosnan, Kiernan, Mustafa, Grant

Goals: Van Egmond 39’ Daly 83’

Manchester United: Earps, Turner, Mcmanus, Turner, Ökvist, Groenen, Zelem (Ladd 66’), Heath (Hanson 61’), Toone (Staniforth 76’), Galton, Russo (Press 76’)

Subs not used: Ramsey, Sigsworth, Ross, Smith

Goals: Russo 20’ 42’, Heath 23’, Press 87’