It’s been a strange old time in East London. After a thumping win against Charlton to secure their spot in the next round of the Continental Cup it was announced that manager Matt Beard was leaving his post. Fans were stunned at the news, even the ones calling for his head. No one thought he would leave especially after a rare sighted win.
So it’s with interim managers Billy Stewart and Paul McHugh who travel down to Kingsmeadow hoping to get the team’s second win of the season.
Chelsea is never going to be an easy game. Let alone your first game in charge of a team whose morale and team spirit seemed to be lacking. Last season’s thrashing still fresh in the mind of players and fans alike.
Chelsea wanting to maintain their unbeaten to streak to challenge current league leaders Manchester United. So the intention was clear with a solid squad, sharp attackers and plenty of options off the bench.
So the whistle goes and the London teams do battle for the first time this season. For the first five minutes there was nothing between these teams as both were holding their own. In fact, it was West Ham who has the first shot with Martha Thomas only managing to find Berger’s gloves.
It became an end to end game with both teams having a pop at each other but nothing was coming to fruition. To be honest I think West Ham were grateful to not be three nil down after ten minutes like last season.
The chip in the Hammers defence came 15 minutes in with Redisch going one on one with Fran Kirby who manages to out wrangle the defender and got a slick cross to Sam Kerr who only had to tap in their first goal.
The test was now what West Ham would fight or flight. Kick on or heads down and watch the goals rain in.
In a very unlike West Ham move, they actually get on with it and almost draw level within minutes. Rachel Daly stealing the ball from the midfield and going on a solo run and just took too many touches, giving Berger time together with the scuffed shot.
Once again it was even between the teams with no clear team on top. Both fighting for possession and trying to get the ball into the net. It appeared all the action was down the right-hand side of the pitch where Vetterlein and Kirby got into multiple skirmishes and the latter ended up on her back thanks to the former.
It seems that West Ham’s defensive shape had got righted since the break and were managing to block most of Chelsea’s attack. They knew how to go from a back line up of 5-4-1 when defending and changing to a 4-4-2 when on the charge.
Chelsea on the other hand were relentless in attack with a marvellous partnership between Kirby and Kerr causing trouble down the right flank for West Ham’s defence. A hard tackle against Andersson landed birthday girl Rachel Daly in the ref’s little black book.
Another 15 minutes of ping pong football both sides left frustrated at the half time whistle.
It was the visitors that struck first in the second half. A brilliant run by Adriana Leon saw her shot blocked by Berger but the German goalkeeper missed Rach Daly coming up on her right. A tap in for the Yorkshire lass.
Suddenly West Ham were back in the game that many had chalked them out of. However, the optimism only lasted eight minutes as once again the Aussie wonder kid managed a simple tap in against her former teammate. 2-1 Chelsea.
Once again though neither side let their heads drop and there was a focus from both sides to make sure they got something out of the game. Both had great deals of position and both made the opposing goalkeepers work for their supper tonight.
Then once again, in an exact replica of their first goal Kirby dinked a perfectly weighted pass to Kerr who once again managed a tap in to make it 3-1. Mackenzie Arnold visibly pissed at her defender. Kerr visibly pissed at her hip as fell very Awkwardly and the hat trick hero was subbed off unceremoniously.
Clever substitutions keeping both teams within the game and with that score line it was felt Chelsea were the outright winners. However West Ham didn’t drop their heads and were determined to not make it easy for the West London team.
It was the substitute Lehmann that changed to pace for the Hammers and on the 88th minute send a cross into the Chelsea box. A miscommunication between Berger and captain Eriksson ended in the ball in the back of the net. West Ham were right back in it. 3:2.
However a miraculous come back was not meant to be and that’s where the score ended.
As a West Ham fan, I am used to writing up a loss, coated in frustration, anger and hopelessness. But not today, today was the West Ham I have been waiting to see. Players we signed such as Mackenzie Arnold showing the quality I knew they were. West Ham gave me hope today, a dangerous thing I know but it’s there.
Player of the match Birthday girl Rachel Daly.