I must start this match report with an apology to my family. Both my biological and footballing. For in order to be pitchside tonight I had to wear a Spurs lanyard with my accreditation.
I am pretty sure my mum won’t let me back in her house until I have had full deep clean. My aunt may even reconsider coming to my wedding unless I burn the shirt I am wearing That’s how serious we take the rivalry in our household.
In the reverse fixture, West Ham has squeaked a one-nil win over their North London rivals. So this game was going to be a must-win for Tottenham especially as a win would seem them climb to second in the league overtaking Chelsea.
From the off the game was charged as a derby should be with a dramatic fanfare from the overhead speakers. Though it has been said the ground was quite sparse considering it’s a derby. With an attendance of less than 700.
Tottenham started on the off on the front foot. Pressing and pushing from the start having most of the possession.
Early on a weighted pass by Ayane missed Percival and was cleared by Flaherty.
Neville again who coming forward skying a tap in.
West Ham also going close with both Lisa Evans and Grace Fisk not connecting with corners.
Frustration was becoming evident as there were four free kicks given within a ten minutes. No love lost between Ria Percival and her former teammates. Out of the four free kicks, her falling foul caused three of them.
Three cards also came quite quickly. Abbey-Leigh Stringer and Hawa Cissoko both for cumulative fouls. Rosella Ayane for frustration at the game.
Against the run of play the away side were the first for a penalty shout. Claudia Walker shouted up as Kerys Harrop handled the ball in the area. The ref waved it on much to the annoyance of the Hammers.
By the end of the first half it remained 0-0. It was the second half that the drama unfolded.
Both teams made changes at the start of half time with Rachel Williams coming on for Spurs and Stringer for the Hammers. The latter clearly protect for the match next week.
Once again Tottenham started more offensive and had the first chance of the half. Ashley Neville again not being able to get passed Anna Leat.
Once again another surge in the Spurs attack leads to the first dramatic part of the half. As Jiali was about to turn in the box Cissoko can charging behind her. A tackle from behind meant that the Spurs forward fell.
Though not a booking offence it did lead to a penalty. Rosella Ayane steps up and drilled a low shot into the bottom corner. 1-0 SPURS.
Not two minutes later the whistle went and again and Cissoko was given her second yellow. Not for a bone-crunching tackle but for kicking the ball away for another free-kick.
The referee having enough of the insubordinate sent the French international back to the stands. West Ham’s battle back got much harder.
Very quickly after another yellow card for the away side and very harsh welcome to the league for Emma Snearle. Harder had to change his formation. Off came the midfielder and on came another defender.
This came to be a very fortuitous substitution.
Five minutes later Ashley Neville had the opportunity to put the game to bed. Her shot bypassed Anna Leat and looked to be goal-bound.
However, Parker managed to run back and clear off the line. Luck seemed very on neither teams side.
It looked all but certain that Tottenham were going to manage to run the game out. With just 5 mins to go of normal time, a more defensive Tottenham appeared. Slowly down the pass, playing more of a defensive possession-based football.
This arguably became their downfall.
With three minutes of extra time, Harrop chipped the ball to Ubogagu who couldn’t get the ball down. Grace Fisk intercepted and started the passage of play to get the precious equaliser.
Fisk to Wyne to Walker back to Wyne to Brynjarsdottir over to Longhurst who rose up and looped the ball into the back of the net. 1-1
With that, there was not much more the teams could do. The whistle blew and the points were shared.
Player of the Match: Have some of that of course it’s Kate Longhurst.
West Ham United: Leat; Fisk, Cissoko, Flaherty (c); Longhurst, Stringer (Wyne 46), Snearle (Parker 67), Brynjarsdottir, Svitkova; Evans, Walker (Filis 85)
Subs not used: Moore, Joel, Cairns, Garrad, Houssein
Goal: Longhurst 90+2
Tottenham Hotspur: Spencer; Bartrip, Harrop, Zadorsky (c), Percival, Neville, Naz (Addison 71), Clemaron (Williams 46), Ayane (Ubogagu 78), Tang, Green
Subs not used: Korpela, Morgan, Ale
Goal: Ayane 54 (pen)