West Ham United 1-1 Aston Villa
Barclays FA Women’s Super League
After a long and hard fight, West Ham United were unfortunate to be held to a tough 1-1 draw in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League against Aston Villa.
The team in Claret and Blue were all over the ball early doors, applying lots of pressure to the Villa backline, and it was from this which Adriana Leon put the home team 1-0 up with a well-placed finish in the eighth minute.
It was an even fight in the second half with the players running lengths of the pitch. There were shots on target for both teams, but it was Remi Allen who found the back of the net in injury time, denying West Ham United victory
The Hammers' faithful returned to their home ground, Victoria Road, for the first time in under a year, and witnessed a strong performance without the end result to match.
Olli Harder made three changes to his line-up. Dagny Brynjarsdottir came into the starting XI as Grace Fisk and Yui Hasegawa sat out due to injuries, while Hawa Cissoko also missed out due to a red card in the last game against Brighton & Hove Albion.
West Ham came on strong when Brynjarsdottir made a great run down the wing early on and sent the ball into the box for Adriana Leon, who struck the ball towards the bottom corner, an effort the out-stretched Hannah Hampton was able to deny.
In the eighth minute the Hammers were not holding back and seized on a Villa mistake, Claudia Walker taking the opportunity to square for Leon who slotted in to open the scoring and put the home team 1-0 up.
Leon continued to apply pressure and was next to go to battle with Villa’s keeper, challenging her in a race to the open goal before Hampton was able to clear of danger.
Australian international and Villa’s newest signing Emily Gielnik then attempted to level the score and bring Aston Villa into the game, but her effort flew over the crossbar.
Sarah Mayling was next to try her luck for the visitors with a free-kick, but Arnold stood strong and refused to let it past her, turning the effort away from goal.
Alisha Lehmann then worked an opportunity for Villa, crossing into the box from the right corner of the pitch, but Irons defender Gilly Flaherty was able to clear away from the danger zone.
Lehmann was not giving up, as she danced around defenders in the box and had another shot on goal which was punched away from Arnold. The subsequent corner taken by former Hammer Maz Pacheco found the head of Anita Asante in the box, but she was unable to guide it past the West Ham keeper.
The Hammers had the first shooting opportunity in the second half through Leon working her magic, whipping the ball into the box onto Brynjarsdottir’s head, but the Icelandic midfielder was unable to convert the golden opportunity, which would have likely sealed all three points.
Leon and Walker produced another two efforts on goal soon after this which were both denied by Hampton.
Villa switched on the attack, Romana Pretzelberger drilled the ball towards the bottom right of the home team's goal, hitting the post - and West Ham remained in the lead.
A free-kick taken by Pacheco sent the ball into the danger zone giving Allen a powerful close range shot but Arnold, on her top form, managed to stop the effort from landing in the back of her net.
Four minutes of extra time afforded the Villans the opportunity for a comeback, and Allen was the one to take it, getting the ball past Arnold with just one minute to go, much to the frustration of Olli Harder and the fans watching in the stands.
The final whistle sounded in east London, with the Hammers picking up their first point of the new campaign, but they will be left disappointed that they couldn’t hang on to all three.
West Ham United Women: Arnold, Wyne, Stringer, Flaherty, Evans, Walker (Joel 74), Longhurst, Parker, Filis, Leon, Brynjarsdottir
Subs: Leat, Cairns, Garrad
Goal: Leon 8
Booked: Stringer 63
Aston Villa Women: Hampton, Mayling, Allen, N’Dow, Asante, Lehmann (Davison 67), Arthur (Petzelberger 55), Gielnik, Hlorkah, LittleJohn (hayles 83) , Pacheco
Subs: Hutton, Haigh, Gregory, Blindkilos-Brown, Rogers
Goal: Allen 90+3
Booked: Littlejohn 65