November 8, 2020 by Stephen L Wright
Back on 11th October I talked about the stats in the Reading-Blues game. The reason for doing so was to show that, although Reading had most of the possession and shots on goal, they ended up losing 0-1 to a Claudia Walker goal. Remarkably, today’s stats for possession and shots on goal were almost exactly the same, but this time in favour of the opponents and the result was reversed.
West Ham began the game strongly putting Blues on the back foot. The shape and the skill we had seen just three weeks ago was sadly not evident as the hosts struggled.
Then, in the ninth minute and against the run of play, Mollie Green fired a perfectly weighted high ball from deep in her own half for Walker to run on to. The forward, who has just gone from strength to strength, didn’t break step as she slipped through the defence and slotted the ball past a diving Mackenzie Arnold.
The Hammers were straight back up the other end, but it was the boot of Hannah Hampton that denied Alisha Lehmann.
Ten minutes later it was the turn of Blues as Sarah Mayling tried a shot only to see the ball come back of the post. Jamie-Lee Napier sent the rebound back at the goal but the ball trickled past the post.
Blues kept up the pressure, but West Ham pushed back and had more attempts denied. Approaching the half hour Mayling put in a another ball which found its way to Napier whose low drive was scooped up by Arnold.
Shortly afterwards, Mayling went down under a hard tackle and was replaced by Emma Kelly.
As half-time beckoned, a Rachel Corsie handball led to a free kick which Walker, in an attempt to clear, diverted past Hampton.
At the beginning of the second half I was getting ready to write a report about a ‘game of two halves’, as Blues came out battling as we know they can. Walker tried a long ranger, that only her growing confidence would have prompted her to attempt, but the post denied again.
Sadly, the renewed effort didn’t last and the Irons put the hammer down. Consequently a nicely weighted Rachel Daly Cross met the head of a jumping Emily van Egmond who tipped the ball past Hampton.
Blues tried to get back in the game but it was all to no avail. They still sit sixth in the table.
Before the game Carla Ward had said that it would not be an easy one and “we have to be at our very best to get something from it.” But they weren’t and, as the stats show, West Ham dominated possession. They played better football, occasionally marred by being over physical. They marked better, passed better and, overall, kept a better shape.
Next up is the first Derby that Blues have played since August 2018, when the rivals met in the Conti Cup. Villa came out winners today against Brighton, their first win in the WSL. They’ll be looking for a second.
Preview to come. Until then…
Stay Safe and KRO