West Ham United women fall short in semi-final against Chelsea
Chelsea FC 6-0 West Ham United
FA Women’s Continental League Cup
Wednesday 3 February
It was a difficult night for West Ham United who lost 6-0 in the semi-final of the FA Women’s Continental League Cup at Kingsmeadow.
The Hammers found themselves 4-0 down after 25 minutes, and never really managed to recover despite a battling display in the second period.
Pernille Harder (3), Sophie Ingle, Bethany England and Fran Kirby were all on target for the Blues, who booked their place in the final, due to take place at Vicarage Road.
Olli Harder’s side now turn their attention to Sunday’s crucial Women’s Super League fixture against Bristol City.
It was an uphill battle for West Ham from the very start in south London as Chelsea took the lead after just three minutes. The Hammers lost possession cheaply in midfield and Ji So-Yun was afforded the space to drive at the heart of West Ham United defence.
The Blue’s No10 slipped in Pernille Harder and the Danish striker applied a simple finish over the advancing Mackenzie Arnold to put the Blues ahead.
The reigning Cup Champions nearly doubled their lead shortly after. A spell of Irons pressure broke down and Harder was able to lead a blistering counterattack. The experienced forward laid the ball across the box for Fran Kirby, who fired just wide of the post.
The attacks were coming thick and fast from Chelsea and Emma Hayes’ side deservedly extended their lead after a quarter-of-an-hour.
Captain Gilly Flaherty half-cleared a cross from the right-hand side and the ball dropped to Sophie Ingle 30 yards out. The Welsh midfielder took aim with her left foot and drove past Arnold to make it 2-0.
It was three in the 25th minute as the Hammers became the orchestrators of their own downfall.
Flaherty laid the ball back for Arnold to clear, but the West Ham No1 was hesitant, scuffing her clearance to the feet of Harder. The Chelsea forward couldn’t believe her luck and duly passed the ball into an empty net.
Two minutes later and the hosts had their fourth. A neat passing move released Kirby on the right flank, and the England international fizzed the ball across the box for Beth England to tuck past Arnold at the front post.
West Ham began to see much more of the ball as the game headed towards the interval. Kate Longhurst burst into the box after a long spell of possession. The midfielder looked to test Ann-Katrin Berger but found herself edged off the ball by Millie Bright as she looked to pull the trigger.
Immediately after the restart the Hammers were under pressure once more when the Blues flew forward. Ingle threaded Kirby through on goal, and the 27-year-old fashioned a low effort that Arnold got down well to save.
Arnold was called into action again moments later. This time, Bright took aim from distance, and it took a spectacular diving save from the goalkeeper to deny the Chelsea defender.
After absorbing a spell of Blues pressure, it was Olli Harder’s side’s turn to enjoy their best spell of the match.
The Irons forced a series of corners, putting the hosts on the backfoot for the first time in the contest. Grace Fisk nearly pulled a goal back in the 51st minute. The defender reacted quickest to Adriana Leon’s low ball into the box, forcing a smart save from Berger with a hooked effort.
A renewed fight from those in Claret and Blue became more and more evident as the half wore on.
Leon was put through on goal by van Egmond with just over an hour on the clock. The No19, however, was thwarted by a brilliantly timed slide tackle from Magdalena Eriksson, who had recovered well from an improbable position.
Maz Pacheco was next to go close for the Hammers when the full-back got the better of Ingle and Bright down the left and fired a stinging effort across the box. Berger managed to parry the ball out towards the edge of the area where Van Egmond was waiting, but her effort flew high over the bar.
For all their efforts, the Irons had every right to feel aggrieved when Chelsea added their fifth. Fran Kirby’s shot from just inside the box ricocheted off the crossbar and fell straight back to the midfielder in the six-yard box to finish.
Pernille Harder managed to complete her hat-trick in the closing stages with a fine strike from range. Chelsea’s No23 was a thorn in the side of the Hammers defence all evening and she left Arnold with no chance, completing the scoring at Kingsmeadow.
Olli Harder’s side will take a number of positives from their second-half efforts, although the Hammers ultimately fell short of a place in the FA Women’s Continental League Cup final.
Chelsea FC: Berger, Bright, Andersson (Blundell 61), Eriksson © (Spence 77), Ingle, Kirby (Reiten 77), Leupolz (Cuthbert 61), Ji (Fleming 61), Mjelde, Harder, England
Subs not used: Telford (GK), Carter, Kerr
Goals: Harder 3, 25, 86, Ingle 15, England 27, Kirby 71
West Ham United: Arnold (GK), Redisch, Flaherty ©, Fisk, Vetterlein, Pacheco (Barker 87), Joel, Svitkova (Thomas 73), Longhurst, Van Egmond, Leon
Subs not used: Brosnan (GK), Mustafa, Dali, Cissoko
Booked: Leon, Longhurst