It was my first West Ham Ladies match for quite a while on Sunday. Holidays, inclement weather and a nasty bout of the Aussie Flu had prevented me from witnessing any of their games so far this calendar year. In my absence they had been doing rather well. No defeats. Twenty six goals scored… only two conceded. Qualified for two, yes two, cup finals and had an admirable draw against title pretenders Crystal Palace Ladies. I hoped that I wasn’t going to take the role of albatross by showing my face at Rush Green.


So where has it all been going right?

Firstly …a  new face always helps and when De Carnys and his assistant Ewan were pointed in the direction of the door, in came Myles Smith as assistant coach who had been promoted from the West Ham Ladies development team and he seems to have made a difference.

Secondly … and I mean no detriment, is that the fixtures have been mainly against teams of a lower calibre with the exception of Crystal Palace Ladies ( which apparently West Ham Ladies coulda shoulda won). I’m not suggesting for one nanosecond that they were all easy peasy, but instead the games served as a platform for the team to play with more freedom allowing them to grow in strength and confidence. To cultivate a winning mentality, which was something I hadn’t yet witnessed in the three years I’d been covering the West Ham Ladies games. Conversely the early season’s fixtures were mainly against the tougher teams in the league and was hugely disappointing apart from a wondrous rainy night at The Valley where they beat Charlton Ladies 3-1.  (I didn’t go to that one either …. there is undoubtedly a pattern forming….)

Definitely a season of two halves.

Thirdly…. there has been a steady influx of quality players. The gradual introduction of new signings has certainly given the place a lift and now there is a real competition for places, especially in midfield where they have accumulated a plethora of talent.

Fourthly …. tactically they’ve gone from playing the ball out from the back as if running in treacle and inviting pressure, West Ham Ladies are shifting the ball quickly in 4-5-1 formation which morphs into a 4-1-5 formation in the blink of a false eyelash.

Fifthly….. (is that a word? Fourthly looked a bit odd as well…oh well) a lot of the players are playing for secondary teams, therefore getting more training, coaching and game experience time than their predecessors. Some of West Ham Ladies squad appear for the UEL team (which has just won their league and ) and others for Barking Abbey who have just won the under 18’s English Schools National Football Championship for the second year running.

Two finals. A cup final and a plate final, which is a nice, as in the recent past the team has on more than one occasion ended up with the wooden spoon.

The most prestigious final of the two, the WPL Plate is an FA  national competition for 35  3rd and 4th tier teams. West Ham Ladies road to the final consisted of wins against QPRL, Brislington Ladies, Keynsham Town Ladies and Hull  City Ladies, scoring 19 goals and conceding just one. The final is to be played Hednesford Town’s Keys Park Stadium in Cannock against Fylde Ladies from the Northern Premier League. WHLs recent run of league form will surely make them favourites to win a national trophy for the first time in their 26 year history.

Unless there is a major upset of catastrophic proportions West Ham Ladies’ opponents in the … wait for it … Bostik Isthmian League Women’s Cup  (invitational ) will be Charlton Women, whose semi final against  Burgess Hill Ladies has been postponed a few times due various weather conditions and burst water pipes. The final promises to be a tasty affair the Bostik league teams came unstuck against both West Ham Ladies and Charlton Women, conceding 47 goals and scoring none. Not even one.

And so to the match. The game kicked off 15 minutes late. The Chichester Ladies had arrived on time with a reputation for being tough opponents but unfortunately their kit hadn’t. It was stuck in traffic.

There were two debutantes for West Ham… Cara Connatser, a goalkeeper from the US of A and Molly Clark, a recent signing from Portsmouth. The bench was a bit of surprise to me, with five not so long ago first team regulars, Dayna Chong last season’s player of the year, Chloe Burr last season’s top scorer, Mollie Kmita, Molly Peters and Jasmine Auguste having to sit out the game. Disappointing for the quintet but a testament to the quality of players coming in.

The game was won in midfield where the usually tenacious Chichester Ladies were out-tackled and out-thought by the Hammers and I really can’t remember Connatser having a save to make, and only looked in any sort of danger when she contested the same ball with her own centre back Chenise Austin. The team now seem to have a more physical presence than before with Molly Clark  Andria Georgiou protecting the back four, aided and abetted by Ellie Zoepfl (I still can’t pronounce it) Amber Stobbs and Rosie Kmita. Kelly Wealthall plays the lone striker role but the fluidity of the team ensures that she is never on her own. A controlled performance and two goals from Amber Stobbs won the game for the Hammers to keep their unbeaten run going, but with WSL1 beckoning next season (probably) I wondered how many more players would have to be changed to bridge the huge gap between the two divisions.

Cara Connatser: Hard to judge her debut performance as she had very little to do. I was going to say she had a quiet game but she’d spent the whole time shouting instructions to organise her defence. She maybe needs to learn the English lexicon of football terminology.

Chantelle Mackie: Ever reliable. One of the few survivors of last season to keep her place in the team.

Hannah Wheeler: Ever present for three seasons now. Survived Little-gate, Hunt-gate and is the only first team player left from that night at Upton Park. I’ve seen her tears from the dark days and it’s good now to see her joy. Put in a solid performance.

Chenise Austin: Very solid athletic performance apart from the aforementioned misunderstanding with Connatser.

Leanne Mabey: Probably centre back is her best position, but with Wheeler and Austin’s grip on those places she had to settle for left back. Solid performance.

Andria Georgiou: Excellent at breaking up play with those niggly type tackles, keen to get forward

Molly Clark: Uncompromising defensive midfielder, an excellent debut, even tried to tackle the West Ham Ladies photographer.

Amber Stobbs: Excellent leader on the pitch and a cert to keep the captain’s armband, scored her trademark thunderbolt and another to seal all three points. Brave in the tackle as well.

Ellie Zoepfl: Another battler on the pitch, strong in the air with a touch of finesse. A good performance.

Kelly Wealthall: Although she didn’t score, another excellent performance that belied her tender age, heaps of energy and a keen football brain. Plays also for Barking Abbey with Sindi Kanto.

Rosie Kmita: Played with her usual exuberance with a smile on her face. She’s a vital cog as her enthusiasm is so infectious…

PS. The attendance of about 60 was a little disappointing but I suppose it is endemic of this level of women’s football…

PPS: A big thank you to the lovely steward(ess?)  one of the Upton Park originals who made me a coffee at half time.

One thought on “West Ham Ladies Final Reminder”
  1. It’s nice to read such a detailed article on our women’s team. Hopefully they can win both Cup finals and bring more than a little bit of Glory to West Ham.

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