Bill Robinson reports from Ship Lane…..
West Ham United Ladies 0 Barnet Ladies 1
Just a single goal was the difference between the two sides but the Hammers must feel more disappointed knowing that with a little more conviction they could have beaten the visitors who play in the division above after winning promotion last season.
The two teams seemed very evenly matched, the Hammers packed the midfield and the resolute back four of Grafton, Woodgates, Sullivan and Barling gave stand in keeper Kelly Cooper the confidence to pull of a number of good saves.
Barnet started to test Cooper and the back four mid way through the first half with a number of dangerous attacks, on 25 minutes Barnet’s Holly Sandow broke through and her shot was well saved by Cooper.
Lone striker Holly Griffin was a constant menace, she was ably assisted by Becky Merritt, but West Ham did miss the penetrating runs of Nina Downham who was tasked with supporting the attacks from left midfield.
Emma Thomas had a number of sorties down the right flank putting in some fine crosses but without reaching their target.
The goal that decided the match came on 32 minutes, a hopeful punt forward from Barnet’s Katie O’Leary split the Hammers defence, Jo Woodgates tried to get a foot on the ball but couldn’t and it fell kindly for Stacey Sowden who had time to side foot the ball home from twelve yards out.
After the break the Hammers started in the driving seat pushing forward looking for the equaliser and possible winner.
On 52 minutes Beck Merritt collected the ball some 25 yards out from the Barnet goal, she struck a wonderful strike and produced and even better save from Barnet keeper Cherie Rowlands who push the ball over the bar.
Just minute later a run down the right by Emma Thomas produced a fine cross dangerously close the Barnet goal line but Holly Griffin just failed to get a touch on it.
Barnet tightened up in the middle of the field and also at the back, this strangled the flow of the game allowing them to dictate the pace.
West Ham lost there free flowing game and perhaps some concentrating and the game came to its inevitable end and defeat for the Hammers.
It’s not the end of their cup run as this season the competition starts with four clubs in a mini league then later in October it becomes a knockout. With One draw and one defeat it’s still very possible for the Hammers to progress dependant on future results.
Next up is two tough League games first next Sunday away at Portsmouth and then on 26th Sept. Home v Charlton.
West Ham Ladies: Kelly Cooper, Jo Woodgates, Jess Barling, Rosey Sullivan, Natalie Grafton, Joanne Wosanow, Emma Thomas, Gemma Shepherd, Becky Merritt , Nina Downham, Holly Griffin
Subs: Clare Rogers, Ruby Southgate, Tracy Duxbury