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Leon nets winner to put Hammers sixth in WSL

Birmingham City 0 West Ham United 1

Adriana Leon volleyed in the winner as West Ham United moved up to sixth in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League by scraping a 1-0 victory at bottom club Birmingham City.

The Hammers moved above Brighton and Reading in the table, although they were far from their best against a Blues side who remain eight points adrift of safety, with just five games left.

The match got off to a quiet start, with the first big incident unfortunately being an injury to assistant referee Stacey Fullicks, who needed to be stretchered from the field after slipping awkwardly.

After play resumed, it was Birmingham who had the game’s first half-chance when Lucy Quinn’s shot from a narrow angle needed to be turned away by West Ham goalkeeper Anna Leat.

The visitors then went ahead in the 41st minute when Leon was left unmarked to cushion in a volley from Katerina Svitkova’s corner at the back post.

A sloppy pass by Dagny Brynjarsdottir gave Quinn a chance to equaliser for the Blues in the 11 minutes that were added to the end of the first half, but the forward shot wildly over.

West Ham had a chance to double their lead after 58 minutes when Kate Longhurst was found in space by Hawa Cissoko and she cut inside before her shot was kept out by Birmingham ‘keeper Maria Hourihan.

The hosts appealed for a penalty when Cissoko appeared to pull back Emily Whelan, while the Hammers came close to a second in stoppage time when substitute Lisa Evans shot wide.

Birmingham City (5-4-1): Marie Hourihan, Jamie Finn, Gemma Lawley, Louise Quinn, Harriett Scott, Rebecca Holloway, Veatriki Sarri, Christie Murray, Lisa Robertson, Lucy Quinn, Libby Smith

Substitutes: Eleanor Ryan-Doyle for Smith 74, Emily Whelan for Lucy Quinn 74

Substitutes not used: Lucy Jones, Lily Simkin, Abbi Jenner, Abi Cowie, Maria Timms, Delphi Cole

West Ham United (3-5-2): Anna Leat, Lucy Parker, Gilly Flaherty, Hawa Cissoko, Kate Longhurst, Abbey-Leigh Stringer, Dagny Brynjarsdottir, Emma Snerle, Katerina Svitkova, Adriana Leon, Claudia Walker

Substitutes: Yui Hasegawa for Snerle 61, Tameka Yallop for Leon 61, Lisa Evans for Walker 70, Melisa Filis for Cissoko 83, Lois Kathleen Joel for Stringer 83

Substitutes not used: Mackenzie Arnold, Halle Houssein

Scorers: Leon 41

Bookings: Stringer 45+9, Yallop 88, Longhurst 90+2, Svitkova 90+3

Referee: Louise Sanders

Attendance: 587


Birmingham City interim manager Darren Carter said: “We’re frustrated [with how we conceded]. We did the same against Arsenal last week, their first goal being a set-piece.

“It’s happened again today and you put so much emphasis and importance on set-pieces, especially corners because they’re a real chance to score.

“I think we’re a real threat from them, but at the other end, you’ve got to make sure that you defend and mark, and we’ve allowed a runner to get free and that’s punished us.

“That’s happened probably three or four times to us this season.

“On reflection and looking at territory in the game and the intensity we played at, the players gave absolutely everything.

“They left it all out there and we’d maybe liked to have had that little bit more quality in the final third and worked the ‘keeper a bit more, but from everything we showed in that game, we deserved a heck of a lot more.”

West Ham United match-winner Adriana Leon said:“I’m usually the one taking the corners, so it was little bit unusual for me to be the one attacking the box.

“I just got myself free and I redirected it into the corner and it was a perfect finish – there’s nothing like a right knee into the corner!

“It worked, a goal’s a goal and I’m just happy we got the three points.

“That was the aim for today, it’s always tough playing away from home, so we’re just happy we got the win.

“What makes the game so tough is they are fighting to stay up in the league and we knew it was going to be a tough battle.

“We’re looking to get as many points as we can towards the end of the season and we’re consistently working on that chemistry and putting in a good performance for ourselves, for the fans.

“We’ll look to finish as high up as we can in the table.”


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