As a West Ham fan, the Academy Stadium does not hold great memories for me. Our first season was a painful 7-1 drubbing, the second season was 5-0 and last season a more respectable 4-0 loss. Even away from the mini Etihad our losses total to 7 goals conceded. So that is 23 goals to our 2.
So to say I didn’t have high hopes would be an understatement. However, the hope as always was there. Both teams were coming off a win against Leicester and were hoping to capitalise on this energy. I am going to state what every fan has said. Manchester City has a long list of injuries. Their back four is now pretty non-existent.
However a second-string Manchester City squad includes an Olympic gold medalist, a champions league winner and multiple England internationals. Any club would love a team like that.
First half and Ellen White kicked off the home side. And reader the first few minutes of the game I thought that West Ham of old had resurfaced. A little shaky and paying Manchester City far too much respect.
After a couple of near misses from the citizens, it seemed like something clicked in place. West Ham started playing respectfully but stoped paying respect.
Defensively the hammers tightened up and through the partnership of Hawa, Mackenzie and captain Gilly we began to frustrate them. Claudia Walker painfully close within the first 20. Denied by the keeper.
Spells of pressure from both sides with the home side arguably stronger. However the high intensity of the game lead to some questionable reffing decisions. From a corner that never should have been, a shove on a Blues player that should have been a penalty. The ref seemed to like to ignore most blatant calls. To be fair it was equally on both sides so no team was too disadvantaged.
That seems to be the running theme of the game. Fair. Each team having great moments in possession but their end product was less than desired. It was a tense 40 mins and the same thought was on everyone’s mind. How were Manchester City not ahead? If there was a goal to be had it was going to come from them right? Right?!
Wrong. It was the visitors who slid into the lead. Yui with a pinpoint accurate cross from the right, landed exactly where Dagny’s head was. A killer header leaving home team stunned.
0-1 to the Hammers.
City went on the offensive straight after with both Caroline Weir and Jess Park firing at the West Ham goal. Mackenzie Arnold to deny them both at the death.
Half time and time to breathe and maybe get a pie. But mostly breathe.
The second half sees a change in the Man City midfield with Laura Coombs coming on for Keira Walsh.
You could tell that the home side had received a rather intensive pep talk during the break. So they started on the offensive from the start.
Once again it was the Hammers keeper who was in the right place and the right time each and every shot. Frustrating the home side who could not get what they wanted.
This game was being fought and lost in the midfield. The high press of play has turned defenders into midfielders and midfielders into forwards. Which meant that both teams were caught out on the counter.
Which seemed to happen to West Ham. Lauren Hemp played a beautifully weighted pass to Ellen White who slotted home past Arnold’s outstretched hand. The stadium roared as an equaliser had finally come. Only to have it discounted due to Ellen coming forward a little too early.
A reprieve for the visitors, disappointment for the home side.
Manchester City was on full fight mode. But every ball was over the bar, to side of the goal. Or punched away by Mackenzie Arnold. The home side throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the West Ham goal but it was not happening for them.
Again that intensity it was felt that even with only 5 minutes of added time they would find the equaliser. In the 94th minute, a second goal was scored at the Academy stadium. Instead of causing the points to be shared, it only cemented the win for West Ham.
A poor back pass from Demi Stokes was pounced on by West Ham’s number 14. Yui took a quick touch and lobbed the ball from outside the box. The Manchester goalkeeper had no chance as it looped overhead into the goal.
That is where the game ended. The home side was stunned and the away side was ecstatic. The few travelling away fans were stunned they had managed to hang on to the win. Back league wins for the Hammers and back to back league losses for Man city.
Player of the match: Mackenzie Arnold.
Detractor of the match: the mass exodus of Man City fans at 85 minutes. I know you were losing but it’s never over until the lady in the middle blows her whistle.