• By football reporter

Hammers crash 3-0 to Manchester United


By Football Reporter


Manchester United 3-0 West Ham United

Manchester United moved back into third in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League after a hard-fought 3-0 victory over West Ham at Leigh Sports Village.

Martha Thomas’ header, an own goal from Hammers’ captain Grace Fisk and Leah Galton’s back-post finish gave the hosts a seventh consecutive home league win and put pressure back on rivals Manchester City.

The hosts started quickly, with Ona Batlle and Jackie Groenen both denied by keeper Mackenzie Arnold inside the opening five minutes.

And they deservedly found the breakthrough in the 11th minute when Galton floated a cross into the six-yard box, and Thomas nodded past the keeper.

The second came in the 20th minute thanks to Thomas again, as her ball across the area was diverted in by the unfortunate Fisk.

West Ham pressed high and created chances, the best of which fell to Adriana Leon who found Mary Earps alert to her effort, before Alessia Russo rippled the side netting on the stroke of half time as the hosts finished the stronger of the sides.

And they grabbed their third four minutes after the restart – Galton sliding in at the back post to convert Russo’s wonderful cross.

Ella Toone was denied shortly after by a superb save from Arnold, as the visitors looked stunned by the hosts’ quick start.

Man United closed out the game without much threat of a comeback, making their 50th match at their temporary home a winning one.

To follow the action and sign up for The FA Player’s live Barclays FA Women’s Super League coverage visit womenscompetitions.thefa.com

Manchester United manager Marc Skinner said: “I asked the girls to show maturity, show us without coach intervention just how far we’ve come, and I feel that cemented our fortress at home because it was a very dominant performance.

“I think we’re responsible for [last week’s draw], I’m responsible for that as their leader. To put them in moments where they can make decisions rather than it be a coach-led conversation.

“I think the players have shown they have that – they still need help, but I was really impressed with every player today. We’ve worked hard on [defending] throughout the season and I think its shown – we’ve had a lot of clean sheets this year.

“So it just shows you if we have no desire to defend, you don’t deserve to win. I know we want to be ‘attack, attack, attack’ – that’s a very common theme at Manchester United.

“But you have to ‘defend, defend, defend’ because sometimes you have to win 1-0, and I celebrate those [defensive] moments as much as the goals.”

West Ham manager Olli Harder said: “Man United’s application and application was just better than us across the park. Being 2-0 down early made life complicated for us. Overall, from our perspective we need to lift our intensity coming into the last game.

“We have to give Man United credit – they played that extra ten percent better, and in terms of possession they were much calmer. We never really had the opportunity to shift that momentum because of the fact we didn’t take the chances when they came.

“I think any team battling relegation then moving into mid-table and having a solid season shows a lot of progress – I think we’re three points off doubling our points tally from last season.

“So in terms of expectations for ourselves, to be competitive in most games and have a unique style is fantastic. So yeah, really pleased!”

Manchester United (4-3-3): Mary Earps; Ona Batlle, Hayley Ladd, Maria Thorisdottir, Hannah Blundell; Jackie Groenen, Katie Zelem (c), Ella Toone; Martha Thomas, Alessia Russo, Leah Galton

Substitutions: Kirsty Hanson for Thomas 63, Signe Bruun for Russo 72, Lucy Staniforth for Toone 72, Vilde Boe Risa for Galton 72, Ivana Ferreira Fuso for Groenen 83

Substitutes not used: Sophie Baggaley, Martha Harris, Diane Caldwell, Kirsty Smith

Goals: Thomas 11, Fisk (OG) 20, Galton 49

Bookings: Hanson 75

West Ham United (3-5-2): Mackenzie Arnold; Grace Fisk (C), Hawa Sissoko, Kate Longhurst; Zaneta Wyne, Yui Hasegawa, Dagny Brynjarsdottir, Tameka Yallop, Katerina Svitkova; Lisa Evans, Adriana Leon

Substitutions: Abbey-Leigh Stringer for Svitkova 72, Claudia Walker for Evans 73, Lois Joel for Wyne 83, Halle Houssein for Hasegawa 84, Melisa Filis for Brynjarsdottir 84

Substitutes not used: Grace Garrad, Emily Moore

Referee: Lucy May

Attendance: 2,546