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Keynsham Town 1 West Ham Utd 3
West Ham United got 2015 off to a flying start win a 3-1 away win over Keynsham Town at the AJN Stadium.
Against a spirited home team, two goals for the Hammers either side of half time gave the visitors a fairly comfortable lead which they nearly extended on several occasions. With all the other teams inactive, this win brought West Ham closer to the leading pack in the FA Women's Premier League Southern Division.
Keynsham, having achieved a League Cup win over the Hammers and having recorded their first point of the season against Plymouth Argyle in their last game, were looking to start the year with another confidence boost. Their plans were disrupted by the early loss through injury of the experienced Hari Sabic.
Lily Mellors created the first chance for the visitors, crossing for Vicky Kinsman to shoot narrowly over. Adele Sale then set up Emma Sherwood with a cut back but again the ball went over Keynsham keeper Elena Pasare's goal. Keynsham worked a good opening for Abi Winnett from a Justine Lorton-Radburn free kick but her effort from a tight angle flew wide of goal on 20 minutes.
Pasare made a good save at the feet of Mellors as the Hammers winger closed in on goal but she was beaten on 34 minutes when the same player crossed from the right for Kinsman to nod home at the near post. Leanne Lapham was sent clear by a good pass from Justine Lorton-Radburn and her low shot was well held by Hammers keeper Nikita Runnacles.
West Ham hit the bar from a Kelley Blanchflower shot but Keynsham levelled on 38 minutes. Lapham delivered a right wing corner which Runnacles misjudged under pressure and she punched the ball into her own net.
Literally seconds before the break, the Hammers regained the lead. Pasare caught a long range shot well but a hasty rolled out clearance was seized upon by Blanchflower on the edge of the area and her finish sent West Ham into the break a goal to the good.
The visitors extended their lead early in the second half when they broke clear on the right and a lofted centre was pushed away only as far as Kinsman who netted from close range on 50 minutes. April Bowers was very close to a fourth from the edge of the area on 58 minutes but Keynsham fought back bravely.
Olivera Markovic went very close to two occasions to reducing the arrears just after the hour, outpacing the defence on the left. She was unable to get a telling shot away under pressure from defenders on the first break but then forced a fine save from Runnacles low to her left to keep out her second effort on 65 minutes.
Runnacles had to move quickly off her line again to clear when Lapham was sent through on goal but West Ham were always dangerous, especially when Jade Smith was introduced on the left side of their attack. Pasare made a good save from a powerful Blanchflower shot from close range on 79 minutes and also managed to turn away a Mellors effort for a corner as the Hammers regained control.
Smith shot wide from 20 yards whilst Hannah Sims was able to block a goalbound effort when Kinsman was picked out in space 12 yards out as the match entered added time. A final chance set up by Blanchflower found Smith free on the far post but not able to convert as West Ham finished the match in confident style having deserved their win.
Led by a commanding performance from skipper Stacey Little in midfield, West Ham looked a well organised and hard working unit. Keynsham worked very hard to match the visitors for much of the contest and moved the ball well at times to stretch the visitors defence but soft goals conceded at vital times proved their undoing.
Both clubs now move on to FA Women's Cup Second Round ties next week. Keynsham are away at Forest Green Rovers from the division below whilst West Ham travel to Southern Division leaders Brighton & Hove Albion.
Keynsham Town: Elena Pasare, Andreea Alexandru, Fleur Jenkins, Jade Lorton-Radburn, Abi Winnett, Hannah Sims, Katarzyna Rusek, Justine Lorton-Radburn, Hari Sabic, Leanne Lapham, Olivera Markovic. Subs: Elena Copelea, Molly Blethyn, Agnieszka Ziolek, Emily Knight.
West Ham Utd: Nikita Runnacles, Kerry Stimpson, Katie Bottom, April Bowers, Adele Sale, Danica Revell, Lily Mellors, Stacey Little, Emma Sherwood, Vicky Kinsman, Kelley Blanchflower. Subs: Jade Smith, Vicky King, Zoe Lipley-Hinton, Ruby Baxter.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Stacey Little is shadowed by Hari Sabic
(middle) Vicky Kinsman and Abi Winnett show perfect balance
(bottom) Lily Mellors is challenged by Fleur Jenkins
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