Manchester City ensured their remained within touching distance of the WSL’s Champions League spots thanks to a 1-0 victory over West Ham at the Chigwell Construction Stadium on Sunday.
A well-worked second half goal from Bunny Shaw saw City to a deserved three points, and leaves Gareth Taylor’s side three points behind third place Arsenal.
City dominated proceedings in the opening exchanges. Lauren Hemp saw an effort block by Risa Shimizu, while Mackenzie Arnold was on hand to deny Alana Kennedy from a set piece.
West Ham weren’t helping themselves and were sloppy in possession at times, Hemp picking up a loose Abbey-Leigh Stringer pass and driving at the West Ham backline. However, the City winger appeared in two minds whether to cross or shoot, and dragged her effort wide.
A smart Kate Longhurst pass sparked a rare Hammers breakaway, with Viviane Asseyi scampering in behind and winning a corner. From the resulting set piece, a goal mouth scramble ensued, and Grace Fisk denied on the goal line by a superb bit of defending from Leila Ouhabi.
City’s top scorer Bunny Shaw was well marshalled by Fisk and Hawa Cissoko, and she headed over her first sighting of goal after being picked out by a fizzing Hemp cross.
West Ham really came into the game in the final five minutes of the first half. A teasing Kirsty Smith delivery narrowly evaded the stretching Asseyi and Longhurst, before the untracked Shimizu forced Roebuck into a smart save at her near post.
City broke the deadlock five minutes into the second half. Yui Hasegawa picked out Deyna Castellanos, who fed Shaw with a perfectly weighted first time pass. Having been left to feed off scraps in the first half, Shaw rounded Mackenzie Arnold and slotted home.
City continued to dominate and went in search of a second, Castellanos seeing an effort from the edge of the box deflected wide by a Cissoko block.
Shaw cracked the inside of the post after a bursting run, and Hemp forced a good save from Arnold on the rebound. From the subsequent corner, Arnold was again called into action, instinctively tipping over a Castellanos effort from close range. Although they failed to extend their lead, one goal was enough for City to stretch their unbeaten WSL streak to eight matches.
GK: Mackenzie Arnold – 6/10 – Made herself big to block a Kennedy effort from a set piece in the first half. Made a pair of good second half saves to keep out Hemp and Castellanos.
RB: Risa Shimizu – 7/10 – Made an important block to keep out Hemp early in the first half, and tested Roebuck with a near post effort on the stroke of half time. Had a fascinating battle with Hemp.
CB: Grace Fisk – 6/10 – Came so close to opening the scoring following a goal mouth scramble from a corner. Question marks over her and Cissoko for the City goal, with Shaw running between the pair of them unmarked.
CB: Hawa Cissoko – 6/10 – A little wasteful in possession on occasions, but made a selection of important last ditch tackles to keep City at bay – including a particularly impressive one on Shaw in the second half. Drawn out and lost the run of Shaw for City’s opener.
LB: Kirsty Smith – 6/10 – Created a big opening for West Ham in the latter stages of the first half with a teasing cross that narrowly evaded Asseyi and Longhurst
RM: Kate Longhurst – 5/10 – Triggered the first promising West Ham move of the game with a smart pass to get Asseyi in behind. Otherwise relatively quiet, replaced before the hour mark.
CM: Abbey-Leigh Stringer – 5/10 – Made an important headed clearance on the goal line inside the early exchanges to keep out a wicked Greenwood corner early in the first half. Fortunate to not be punished after conceding possession in her own half on a couple of occasions.
CM: Honoka Hayashi – 5/10 – Kept quite quiet, with West Ham’s midfield largely overrun by City’s effervescent midfield three.
LM: Lisa Evans – 5/10 – Struggled to get into the game and have a lasting impact on proceedings.
AM: Dagny Brynjarsdottir – 5/10 – A constant threat from set pieces, but drifted in and out of the game a little bit.
ST: Viviane Asseyi – 6/10 – Stretched the City backline with her runs in behind. Largely left to feed off scraps and never had a clear sighting of goal.
SUB: Emma Snerle (56′ for Longhurst) – 7/10 – Made a real impact from the bench and looked West Ham’s most dangerous player.
SUB: Izzy Atkinson (81′ for Evans) – 6/10
GK: Ellie Roebuck – 6/10 – Made a smart near post save to keep out Shimizu in the first half. Assured playing out from the back.
RB: Esme Morgan – 7/10 – Smart in possession, helped City play out from the back and linked well with the front three.
CB: Alana Kennedy – 6/10 – Making her first WSL start of the season, denied a goal from a set piece by a smart Arnold save.
CB: Alex Greenwood – 6/10 – Wreaked havoc with her set piece deliveries and came close to getting on the scoresheet with a header from a corner. Typically solid and composed.
LB: Leila Ouhabi – 7/10 – Made an important goal line block to deny Fisk in the first half. Superb playing out from the back.
CM: Yui Hasegawa – 8/10 – Making her return to her former club for the first time, so classy on the ball and effortlessly good when under pressure and with her back to goal. Broke the lines with a probing pass to Castellanos in the build up to City’s opener.
CM: Laura Coombs – 6/10 – Fed Hasegawa in the build up to the City opener. Tidy in possession.
CM: Deyna Castellanos – 7/10 – Set up Shaw for City’s opener with a beautifully cushioned first time pass. Came close to getting on the scoresheet herself but was denied by a Cissoko block and a good Arnold save.
RW: Chloe Kelly – 7/10 – A constant danger with her willingness to get at Smith and her wicked deliveries from the right.
ST: Bunny Shaw – 8/10 – Headed narrowly over in the first half, before getting on the scoresheet five minutes into the second, latching onto a through ball, rounding Arnold and slotting home. Cracked the post in the latter stages after a bursting run.
LW: Lauren Hemp – 7/10 – Saw a close range effort blocked early in the first half and flashed a shot narrowly wide after picking up a loose ball on the halfway line and driving forward. Really dangerous, but the final ball was missing at times.
SUB: Laia Aleixandri (89′ for Hasegawa) – N/A