Hawa Cissoko: It was a frustrating result
West Ham United women’s defender Hawa Cissoko was frustrated that her side didn’t come away with anything from their Barclays FA Women’s Super League clash with Arsenal on Wednesday evening.
In the pouring rain, the Hammers went toe-to-toe with the Europe-chasing Gunners, who occupy third place in the table, but failed to take some golden chances that fell their way.
Dagny Brynjarsdottir had two headers in the closing stages of the first half that could have caused Arsenal goalkeeper Lydia Williams some problems, but were off-target, and Martha Thomas was able to direct her headed effort towards goal late on, only for the Australian number one to tip the ball away.
Olli Harder’s side were in the mix of the game for the duration, and Cissoko was left to reflect on what might have been for West Ham.
“It was my first time playing against Arsenal - I expected it to be more difficult considering how good of a team they are," she admitted.
"I’m disappointed about the game because we created some good chances, but we couldn’t find the goal to make the game interesting towards the end.
“I’m proud of the team because of the improvements we have made against these top teams. When you look back at the reverse fixture, we’ve come so far and we’re able to compete in these matches against the teams near the top."
The aforementioned reverse fixture, a 9-1 defeat at Victoria Road, was something that the Hammers were looking to avoid repeating – and this match was a much closer contest, with Cissoko attributing that to their solid defensive work rate which stretches across the whole team.
She added: “Defensively we’re a lot more solid, especially when you look over the last three months since Olli has come in. I’m happy with this aspect – but I’m not happy because we didn't win.
"I always want to win; it doesn’t matter who we’re playing – we can beat anybody on the day, so that’s why I’m disappointed.
“It’s a really frustrating feeling because I didn’t think they were that much better than we were. If they had played us off the park and we’d lost 2-0 then you can hold your hands up and accept the result, but we were in the game for the full 90 minutes. It was an end-to-end game and it’s frustrating.
“They’re a good side both technically and tactically, so we can take a lot of positives out of this game going into our next one."
This was the French defender’s fourth consecutive start in the WSL, forming a solid backline with Gilly Flaherty and Grace Fisk, as well as being involved in three clean sheets in matches prior to the clash against the Gunners.
The Parisian native is delighted to be seeing more first-team action.
“I’m really happy that I’m starting more matches for the team now. We’ve had a really good defensive run where we had four clean sheets in all competitions, and I feel as though I’ve had an impact - but it’s really a whole team effort.
“When I got my chance, I had to earn my place and prove that I’m ready to play consistently and I think I’ve been able to do that. I won’t stop there; I know that I have to keep working hard and improving to stay in this team going forward.”
The Hammers’ attention now turns to Sunday’s crunch match against Aston Villa – a must-win game for both sides if they are to avoid relegation from the top division.
It is an occasion that Cissoko is relishing.
“I’m looking forward to Sunday’s match, because it’s the game where our season will be decided," she confirmed.
"I want to be out on the field now and playing because this match has so much riding on it. We’re all confident going into the game that we can come away with the three points, we just need to make sure that we put in the same performance levels as we have done recently - and take our chances.“
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