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Keynsham Town 0 West Ham Utd 0
Third placed Keynsham Town and leaders West Ham fought out a goalless draw at Crown Field on Sunday in a match where defences dominated and chances were few and far between.
The result probably suits the Hammers more but a home side hit by injury and absence of key players put the unbeaten Londoners under severe pressure at times, without ever finding a way past the well organised West Ham defence and ex-Luton keeper Nikki Duncan, who stood in very well for the suspended Toni-Anne Wayne.
Keynsham gave a second half run out to Danielle Collins, an American signing from Philadelphia Independence, who impressed with her passing and movement and their other new signing Jade Radburn appeared for the first time.
The cagey nature of the first half was illustrated by the lack of clear cut chances. Corinne Yorston nearly converted a left wing cross, putting the ball wide from close in midway through the half. Duncan dived to her right to claw another shot away while Gemma Shepherd and Emma Thomas nearly turned in a crosses for the Hammers close to the break but both defences were well protected by busy midfields .
Leading Keynsham scorer Naomi Clipston impressed as did Polly Wardle with her busy running but the Hammers have conceded very few goals and it was easy to see why, as incisive tackling and quick closing down denied the young forwards time and space.
Early in the second half, Wardle scuffed her shot after the ball broke to her inside the area and, following a corner, Keynsham captain Louise Hutton ballooned an effort well over the bar.
A set piece or an error seemed the only routes to breaking the deadlock and the latter nearly gave Hammers the lead. A weak clearance from a dangerous cross from Thomas put them clear on goal after 70 minutes, but Amber Thornell rescued Keynsham with a reaction block from a five yard shot. Another deep Thomas cross was nearly bundled in by sub Clare Rogers at the far post late on but Keynsham had also threatened with a Katarzyna Rusek free kick turned over by Duncan and several well aimed corners.
The draw was clearly a just result after a tight contest between two strong outfits who cancelled each other out. With rivals Portsmouth losing heavily, taking Keynsham up to second, the point gained will be of added value to both teams as they seek promotion to the National Division.
Keynsham Town: Amber Thornell, Louise Fensome, Tracey Rouemaine, Amanda Blakeley, Louise Hutton, Corinne Yorston, Katarzyna Rusek, Ashley Reinecke, Naomi Clipston, Polly Wardle, Kayleigh Sage Subs: Danielle Collins, Jade Radburn.
West Ham Utd: Nikki Duncan, Joanne Woodgates, Jess Barling, Natalie Grafton, Rosey Sullivan, Emma Thomas, Carly Roache, Joanne Wasalho, Tracey Duxbury, Gemma Shepherd, Becky Merritt. Subs: Claire Rogers, Ruby Southgate, Jonna Kykkanaen, Satu Pesonen.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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