Bill Robinson reports from Ship Lane….
FA Premier League Cup 1st Round
A fantastic result and performance saw the Hammers progress into the last eight of the Premier League cup competition at the expense of Premier club Reading.
It was a goal in the 90th minute by Nina Downham who came on half way through the second half that secured the victory.
The visitors came to Thurrock expecting the win and they clearly demonstrated that they were a very capable football side but they were evenly matched by a West Ham side full of confidence and self belief that this national competition is not beyond their capabilities.
West Ham opened the scoring in the 12th minute when they broke out of defence and split the Reading back four, Becky Merritt’s pass into the path of Emma Thomas found her with the goal at her mercy as she side footed home the opener.
The game continued to be a typical cup tie being played at a frenetic pace and from end to end. The Hammers defence restricted the Reading attack to long range efforts keeping keeper Toni-Anne Wayne busy as she pulled off save after save.
0n 32 minutes a fine run down the right flank by Readings Fran Kirby ended with a super strike into the far corner of the net bringing the sides back on level terms.
In the second half Reading started to exert more pressure on the West Ham goal and once again Toni-Anne Wayne had to be at her best to pull of three first class saves.
Reading did believe they had taken the lead during this period a shot form the edge of the box appeared to hit the bar or the inside of the supporting structure for the goal net but the referee waved away the Reading claims.
Emma Thomas came close to sealing the game when she got on the end of a fine cross from the right, her shot beat the keeper but hit the underside of the bar and rolled along the goal line allowing the keeper to collect the ball.
With time nearly at an end it looked like extra time, the Hammers went into attack again and won a corner, from the cross the ball was partially cleared but was sent back into the Reading penalty area where Joanne Woodgates collected and fired in a shot, the keeper made a fine save diving to her right but as the ball came out it was Nina Downham who reacted quickest to fire home the winner from close range.
Reading threw everything forward to find an equaliser in what turned out to be an additional seven minutes of nail biting for the Hammers supporters, eventually the referee called a end to the game much to the delight of the Hammers squad and supporters.