West Ham United Women score five in Reading rout
Reading 0-5 West Ham United
Barclays FA Women’s Super League
Saturday 3 April 2021
A fantastic five-goal first half secured an emphatic victory for West Ham United over Reading in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League on Saturday afternoon.
Martha Thomas scored a superb hat-trick inside the opening 45 minutes, with Kenza Dali and Katerina Svitkova also finding the back of the net to complete the rout and secure a vital first league win for manager Olli Harder.
The Hammers made one change from last weekend’s defeat at Old Trafford, with Hawa Cissoko coming into the backline in place of the suspended Laura Vetterlein.
The away side had barely kicked off when a rogue arm from Danielle Carter caught Kate Longhurst in the face, with the midfielder staying down and receiving treatment.
Dagny Brynjarsdottir had the game’s first opportunity but the effort from the edge of the area sailed over the crossbar.
With seven minutes gone, Martha Thomas had a golden opportunity to open the scoring. Katerina Svitkova deliverd a superb left-footed cross that the Scottish international could only head over.
A minute later and the Hammers were in front when Kenza Dali’s cross looped over the goalkeeper and found its way into the bottom corner of the Reading net to give the away side a deserved lead early on in Berkshire.
Olli Harder’s side made it two inside ten minutes at the Madejski. Thomas picked out Svitkova at the back post, and the Czech Republic international was able to steer her header home from a tight angle.
Unbelievably, Thomas stabbed the ball into the back of the net just a minute later to make it three, a superb start to the match for the away side, who scored three goals in a four minute spell to put themselves in the ascendancy.
Reading’s first real threatening moment came almost 23 minutes into the match, a whipped free-kick from Fara Williams flying well wide of the target.
Angharad James found space just on the edge of the area for the home side, but her strike was well dealt with by Courtney Brosnan, who got down well and held onto the effort.
Despite some pressure from Reading, the away side were still dangerous on the counter. Cecilie Redisch pounced on a mistake before playing the ball across for Thomas to score a tap in, her second goal of the afternoon and a fourth for the Hammers inside 30 minutes.
And the goals didn’t stop there for Harder’s side, as Martha Thomas completed her hat-trick with a beautifully chipped finish over the head of Grace Moloney to put the Hammers firmly in control and on course for their biggest win of the campaign.
The home side looked completely shell-shocked after such a poor opening 40 minutes and were unable to cope with the press that was imposed by Harder’s side. The Royals failed to muster a key opportunity as the referee blew time on a quite sensational first period from a Claret and Blue perspective.
The second half began with the home side looking to find a way back into the match. A placed effort from Carter landed narrowly wide of Brosnan's left-hand post.
However, the Hammers continued to look solid at the back and dangerous on the counter, as they looked to add to the scoreline.
With 62 minutes on the clock, Courtney Brosnan was alert to tip a wayward cross from Natasha Harding over the crossbar.
The home side continued to have the majority of the play, but struggled to fashion clear-cut chances, as the Hammers stood firm going into the final 15 minutes of play in a tireless performance.
Emma Harries went close to getting a goal back for the Royals late on, but she couldn't connect with a whipped cross that flashed across the face of goal.
Nor Mustafa and Maz Pacheco almost combined for a sixth with five minutes of normal time remaining, but the forward's effort was held by Moloney.
Emily van Egmond was next to be denied by the Reading shot-stopper, as the Hammers looked the likelier of the two sides to score next.
Reading did have another chance before the final whistle was sounded, Williams smashing the crossbar from a free-kick that looked destined to nestle in the top corner.
Anouk Denton entered the fray for the final five minutes of injury time to make her West Ham United debut.
The Hammers played with intensity until the full-time whistle sounded, as they secured their first league win of 2021 and their first under Harder.
West Ham United Women: Brosnan, Redisch (Pacheco 77), Fisk, Flaherty ©, Cissoko, Svitkova, Brynjarsdottir, Longhurst (Denton 90), van Egmond, Dali, Thomas (Mustafa 81)
Subs not used: Ramsey, Barker
Goals: Dali 8, Svitkova 10, Thomas 11, 30, 37
Booked: Flaherty 71, Longhurst 89
Reading FC Women: Moloney, Leine, Williams, James, Fishlock, Eikeland (Harries 46), Harding, Cooper, Carter, Rowe, Woodham
Subs not used: Nayler, Gae-ul, Flores, Roberts, Childerhouse