Olli Harder: The red card incident killed the game for us

West Ham United Women’s manager Olli Harder was left frustrated as the full-time whistle sounded on the opening day of the Barclays FA Women’s Super League season. 

The east Londoners were beaten 2-0 by Brighton & Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium – with the turning point in the match coming when Hawa Cissoko was sent off for blocking the ball with her hand to deny the home side taking the lead. 

And Harder was frustrated with the decision which saw the Hammers concede a penalty and saw Cissoko sent for an early shower. 

“The incident pretty much killed the game for us - we were on top up until that point so it’s frustrating. We wanted to come here today and pick up some points, but that’s difficult to do when you only have 10 players on the pitch. 

“The bottom line is I think we go on and win the game if we have eleven players out there, so I’m not happy with the fact that you get a penalty and a red card for what I can tell was not a deliberate handball." 


Brighton added a second just before the break, but in the second half, Harder’s side competed for every blade of grass and had chances of their own to get back into the game – unfortunately though, they couldn’t find the goals that they were looking for. 

“On the positive side we showed a lot of character to be out there for 60 minutes and create the chances that we did. I think anyone watching the game could arguably say that it could have finished 2-2, we had chances and we made the effort to get out to them and not sit back. 

“It’s a huge credit to the girls but we’re not surprised because we know that we’ve recruited some excellent personalities and the way they communicated and worked together was important to me.

"So overall, very unhappy with the fact that we haven’t come away with anything but happy with reaction of the players and their commitment.”


The West Ham United faithful travelled to the Amex to support the team – their first away outing since February 2020, and Harder was delighted to see the supporters cheering on the team. 

“It was fantastic. I’ve said previously that football is to be enjoyed and for us today it was about making our supporters proud. It was testing circumstances for us today, but hopefully the supporters can see the amount of effort these players are putting in to represent the West Ham badge.”

The Hammers will now turn their attention to next weekend’s home fixture against Aston Villa which will be broadcast live on Sky Sports. Harder is looking forward to the match and hopes that his side can take the positives into the contest. 

“Based off the performance that we put in today, there’s a lot of positives to draw on ahead of Aston Villa next weekend. What we’ve seen from the team today are the values that we want to represent at the football club and under trying circumstances we really took it to Brighton,” he concluded.