It had been over a year since these two sides met competitively which had ended in a win albeit a controversial one for the Hammers. Both sides were coming into this with momentum they were hoping to continue. West Ham getting their first win of the season in the Conti cup rather convincingly against Reading. Birmingham whose league wins against Bristol as well as the aforementioned Reading had propelled them to a better position then they achieved all of last season. Plus they would be wanted revenge on the result last season and we want revenge for them stealing Visalli. I am of course kidding ( kinda).
Back in their customary claret and blue after pink October West Ham were raring to go. Even if their pep talk went over into the Remembrance Sunday moment of silence. Oops.
It was the home side to kick us off with star striker Claudia walker having the honour.
Right off the bat, West Ham were hungry to strike first with number 9 Martha Thomas narrowly missing in the first minute with Leon following up three minutes later. buoyed by the win in midweek or the pressure of not having a league yet. Either way, West Ham were on fire. It then was against the run of play that Birmingham struck first. A forward run by West Ham captain was intercepted by the Birmingham midfield. Due to that pace, West Ham were caught on the hop and left Mackenzie Arnold exposed. A straight forward shot towards goal from Claudia walker gave the Blues the lead after 8 mins. I won’t lie to you reader, my head went into my hands and I thought we were in for a repeat of all other league performances. My shouting sent the cat Running scared to my partner.
For a while it looked like I would be right, Birmingham clearly rejuvenated by the early lead kept pressing for another goal. Within the next 20 minutes, three different players came close to doubling the blues lead. Twice they hit the crossbar before the ball was scrambled away by the West Ham defence. Any zeal West Ham had was slowly dissipating and now with both of us shouting the cat retreated under the bed.
However despair soon to outrage when Adriana Leon was pulled down in the penalty box by a marauding Birmingham defender. However the referee either deemed the challenge to be legit or Leon had dived for advantage, either way, the referee waved away any protests. I supposed this hett up the players as moments later defender Laura Vetterlein was booked for a rather rash challenge. Then two minutes having clearly not calmed down she committed another causing a Sarah Mayling to be subbed off. Lucky for us she only got a talking to.
But then and as is the West Ham way, a gift was given just before half time on the form of an own goal. A free-kick awarded due to a handball curled into the penalty area. The intended target was Martha Thomas’s head. Instead, it landed on Claudia Walker’s who turned it into her own net. She had got her second goal but unfortunately not the way she had intended. We are tied on the whistle.
The second half kicked off again with the Blues taking the majority of the possession and taking the most chances. Once again Birmingham came very close shaking the goalposts on multiple occasions. It was then that West Ham seemed to get their second wind and engaged in some ping pong football. Just hitting the ball into each other’s goalies hands. To honest I was happy this was heading a draw and another point in the bank.
However a certain England international had other ideas. Having picked ball
up in midfield Rachel Daly pinged a cross into the Birmingham penalty area. There it connected beautifully with Emily Van Egmond’s head. With a powerful rocket she directed past Hannah Hampton’s outstretched hand. For the first time this season the Hammers were ahead.
Despite a much-energised end from Birmingham which resulted in more yelling and the cat going further under the bed. West Ham came away with their first win and climbed a place on the league. Another first since they entered the league we are above Tottenham. If a famous beer company did Sunday’s 😏.
Player of the match Emily Van Egmond’s head.
Also, shout out to the commentators who actually learnt to say the names of the players properly