'Red card incident killed game for us,' says West Ham boss Harder

Brighton and Hove Albion's Emily Simpkins (left) and West Ham United's Yui Hasegawa battle for the b

Brighton and Hove Albion's Emily Simpkins (left) and West Ham United's Yui Hasegawa battle for the ball the FA Women's Super League match at the AMEX Stadium, Brighton. Picture date: Sunday September 5, 2021. - Credit: PA

West Ham United Women’s manager Olli Harder was left frustrated as the full-time whistle sounded on the opening day of the Barclays FA Women’s Super League season.

The east Londoners were beaten 2-0 by Brighton & Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium – with the turning point in the match coming when Hawa Cissoko was sent off for blocking the ball with her hand to deny the home side taking the lead. 

Harder was frustrated with the decision, which saw the Hammers concede a penalty and Cissoko sent for an early shower. 

“The incident pretty much killed the game for us - we were on top up until that point so it’s frustrating. We wanted to come here today and pick up some points, but that’s difficult to do when you only have 10 players on the pitch. 

Brighton and Hove Albion's Aileen Whelan (right) challenges West Ham United's Abbey-Leigh Stringer d

Brighton and Hove Albion's Aileen Whelan (right) challenges West Ham United's Abbey-Leigh Stringer during the FA Women's Super League match at the AMEX Stadium, Brighton. Picture date: Sunday September 5, 2021. - Credit: PA

“The bottom line is I think we go on and win the game if we have 11 players out there, so I’m not happy with the fact that you get a penalty and a red card for what I can tell was not a deliberate handball." 


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Brighton added a second goal just before the break, but in the second half Harder’s side competed for every blade of grass and had chances of their own to get back into the game – unfortunately though, they couldn’t find the goals they were looking for. 

“On the positive side, we showed a lot of character to be out there for 60 minutes and create the chances that we did. I think anyone watching the game could arguably say that it could have finished 2-2, we had chances and we made the effort to get out to them and not sit back. 

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“It’s a huge credit to the girls but we’re not surprised because we know that we’ve recruited some excellent personalities and the way they communicated and worked together was important to me.

"So overall, very unhappy with the fact that we haven’t come away with anything but happy with reaction of the players and their commitment.”

The Hammers will now turn their attention to next weekend’s home fixture against Aston Villa, which will be broadcast live on Sky Sports. 

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