West Ham United Women fell to a 4-0 defeat against Chelsea at the Chigwell Construction Stadium on Wednesday night.
After a resolute start, the Hammers’ backline was penetrated after thirteen minutes when Niamh Charles tucked the ball into the back of the net from close range.
The visitors flew out of the blocks after the interval, after a well contested first half, and goals from Pernille Harder, Sophie Ingle and Erin Cuthbert saw the visitors return to the top of the Barclays Women’s Super League.
Paul Konchesky made three changes to the side that lost against Brighton last time out, with Kirsty Smith, Risa Shimizu and Amber Tysiak coming in for Izzy Atkinson, Emma Snerle and Anouk Denton, who dropped to the bench.
The visitors dominated the early possession but the Hammers defended impressively in the early stages, with Konchesky’s side deploying a counter-attacking 5-4-1 formation.
After a bright start, the Irons created the first opening of the match. Dagny Brynjarsdottir’s deep cross found Viviane Asseyi and the striker did well to find the target with a volley from the edge of the area. However, the effort lacked power and Zecira Musovic was on hand to make a comfortable save.
The visitors opened the scoring with thirteen minutes on the clock after their first meaningful attack. Sam Kerr’s initial strike was cleared off the line before Charles tucked the ball into the empty net on the rebound.
Jelena Cankovic came close to doubling Chelsea’s lead after 22 minutes. The No28 picked up possession and drove forwards, before firing a powerful effort over the crossbar from the edge of the 18-yard-box.
Mackenzie Arnold was called into action moments later, making a remarkable save to keep out Harder’s close range effort after a well worked Chelsea move.
Harder came close again moments later, heading wide from close range after Jessie Fleming’s excellent free kick.
The Hammers pressed for an equaliser, and they almost found it ten minutes before the interval after an impressive counter attack. Lisa Evans’ wicked cross found Asseyi in the box and the striker’s header bounced just wide of the bottom left corner.
The visitors raced out of the blocks at the start of the second half and Arnold was called into action to deny Ingle before Harder doubled Chelsea’s lead on 48 minutes.
Ingle was involved once again and slid the ball through to Harder who swept the ball into the bottom left corner from a tight angle.
And Emma Hayes’ side took a three goal lead on 65 minutes. Magdalena Eriksson’s initial header was well saved by Arnold but Ingle reacted quickest to head the ball into the net from close range.
Lucy Parker was at full stretch to deny Kerr from tapping the ball into the net minutes later, expertly diverting the ball away from danger to prevent Chelsea from scoring their fourth of the match.
The Hammers pushed for a route back into the match in the closing stages, and Grace Fisk came close for the hosts. The centre back’s looping header landed the wrong side of the post, but that didn’t deter the Irons.
Moments later, Amalie Thestrup raced in behind the Chelsea back line and showed composure to take the ball around Musovic. The substitute’s effort was remarkably cleared off the line and Kate Longhurst’s long range effort flew just wide of the post seconds later.
Cuthbert’s impressive late strike arrowed into the top right corner, securing a 4-0 victory for the visitors.
West Ham United: Arnold, Smith, Fisk, Tysiak (Snerle 55), Cissoko, Shimizu, Parker, Evans (Thestrup 65), Brynjarsdottir (Hayashi 65), Longhurst, Asseyi (Atkinson 81).
Unused Subs: Hillyerd, Denton, Cooke, Houssein, Ademiluyi.
Chelsea: Musovic, Ingle, Carter, Eriksson, Fleming (Cuthbert 68), Kaneryd, Kerr (Svitkova 80), Charles (Abdullina 80), Harder (Reiten 68), Buchanan, Cankovic (James 68).
Unused Subs: Berger, Leupolz, Perisset, Mjelde.
Goals: Charles 13, Harder 48, Ingle 65, Cuthbert 90+3
Referee: Louise Saunder