Mayling and Mace save the day for Blues against Hammers

Martha Thomas of West Ham United and Ruby Mace of Birmingham City battle for the ball.
Martha Thomas of West Ham United and Ruby Mace of Birmingham City battle for the ball during the FA Women's Super League match at the Chigwell Constructions Stadium, Dagenham. (Photo by Sam Bibby)

A dramatic last gasp equaliser from Ruby Mace from a Sarah Mayling cross saved the day for Birmingham City. West Ham will feel hard done by having done enough to win the game, but it wasn’t to be.

Birmingham started the stronger side and deserved to be leading going into the interval. However, West Ham head coach Olli Harder must have given the half-time team talk of his life as the Hammers were a transformed team in the second half.

Starting XI

West Ham United: Brosnan, Redisch, Flaherty (c), Fisk, Vetterlein, Longhurst, Brynjarsdottir, Svitkova, Van Edmond, Dali, Thomas

Birmingham City: Hampton, Mayling, Brougham, Mace, Holloway, Murray (c), Whipp, Littlejohn, Murphy, Walker, Napier

How the match unfolded

Both sides went in hard in a very physical start to the game.

West Ham’s plan was to feed the ball through to Martha Thomas any way they could. Long balls over the top or clever through balls to her. Thomas was quite isolated with very little support from her Hammers teammates.

Van Egmond took an early shot on goal but her header was easily dealt with by Blues keeper Hannah Hampton.

Moments later Sarah Mayling takes a corner for Birmingham and keeps the ball low. Claudia Walker shoots but her shot is blocked and finds its way to Emily Murphy who rifles it in from the edge of the box.

Birmingham were on the ascendency and keen for a second. Emily Murphy made a number of runs with the ball skipping past defenders and interacting well with Lucy Whipp.

Blues should have doubled their lead when the ball comes to Ruesha Littlejohn but her half-volley was just over the bar.

At the other Katarina Svitlkova took a free kick for the Hammers which was easily saved by Hampton.

Half-time team talk

Olli Harder really earned his money during half-time as whatever he said to his players they came out looking like a completely different team. West Ham looked desperate to get back in the game and it didn’t take them long.

Birmingham lost their concentration in their own penalty box in not clearing a loose ball. Van Egmond takes full advantage to bring the ball down and smash it home.

Now the momentum has completely swung towards West Ham who are full of confidence. They vary their delivery to Thomas including some delightful diagonal balls to cut out the Blues defence.

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Kenza Dali skips past Christie Murray and the Hammers are on the hunt for a winner. This time after some clever play on the edge of the Blues box the ball falls to Svitkova who absolutely rifles it in.

West Ham could and perhaps should have made it 3-1 with yet another through ball to Thomas. However, after being one on one with Hampton the Blues keeper makes an outsanding save.

West Ham go into game management mode in the final 10 minutes by making two defensive substitutions. However, in the final minute of injury time, Sarah Mayling whips in an incredible cross from the right on a plate for Ruby Mace to score a deserved equaliser.

What the result means

Both teams are fighting relegation. A win for the Hammers would have meant them leapfrogging Birmingham in the table. However, with the points shared, the Blues will be the happier team.

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