WSL: West Ham 0 Reading 1
PUBLISHED: 18:35 04 October 2020 | UPDATED: 18:35 04 October 2020
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A Lauren Bruton goal gave Reading a 1-0 win in East London, with West Ham unable to find their way past an inspired Grace Moloney.
Bruton’s expert first-time finish just past the midway point of the first half arguably came against the run of play, with the hosts unable to convert possession – and gilt-edged opportunities – into goals.
Adriana Leon and Kate Longhurst failed to hit the target for the hosts inside the opening ten minutes with the Reading centre-backs caught napping on two occasions, before Kelly Chambers’ side gradually settled.
They were dealt a temporary setback when the ever-influential Fara Williams was removed from the contest with just 15 minutes on the clock, but Bruton’s composed finish was ample comfort.
A wicked delivery from Natasha Harding landed right on the corner of the six-yard box and with Mackenzie Arnold hesitant, Bruton got there first and poked past the West Ham goalkeeper to give her side the lead.
How they left Dagenham with all three points will give West Ham boss Matt Beard plenty of sleepless nights in the week ahead.
Leon couldn’t capitalise on a hashed clearance attempt from Harding, drawing an outstanding point-blank save from Moloney, before the same player was again thwarted by the Irish stopper at her near post, which left her needing treatment.
There was still time for more heroics from the visiting goalkeeper, though, when she got down quite brilliantly to her left to save a penalty from Hammers captain Kenza Dali, which noticeably deflated the home side.
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Despite West Ham enjoying plenty of the ball late on, which included seven minutes of added time, the defensive effort from the Berkshire side was enough to give them the spoils.
West Ham manager Matt Beard said: “We’ve let our concentration slip for one moment and we’ve been punished, which is very difficult to take.
“Performance-wise, I’ve got no complaints really. Considering we are still settling new girls into the side and this is just our third game of the season, there were lots of positives.
“How we haven’t scored, I don’t know. We did so much work this week on finishing, from various positions, and you saw some of that with the amount of balls we got into the box, especially early on.
“Of course, there are times when you have to credit the opposition and their goalkeeper has made some super saves today. For us, we have to learn from that. At this elite end of the game, if you don’t take your chances, you’ll end up with nothing.
“I’d be worried if we weren’t creating anything, but that isn’t the case and we’re all looking look forward to getting back out there again as quickly as possible - and three games in a week will present plenty of opportunities.”
West Ham United (4-3-3): Arnold, Pacheco, Cho, Fisk, Redisch (Mustafa 76), Longhurst (Grant 70), van Egmond, Dali, Leon, Daly, Lehmann (Kiernan 55).
Unused subs: Brosnan, Joel, Dunbar-Bonnie, Cruickshank.
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