SSE FA Cup: West Ham Women 8 Huddersfield Town Ladies 1
PUBLISHED: 16:04 17 February 2019
Leanne Kiernan’s hat-trick helped West Ham Women into the last eight of the SSE FA Cup with an emphatic victory at Rush Green on Sunday.
A crowd of 865 looked on as the home side came from behind to ease through in style, with six different players getting on the scoresheet in a good all-round team display.
The hosts had more of the possession in the opening minutes, with Bri Visalli the heartbeat of their midfield and a long ball from Jane Ross just eluded the run of Kate Longhurst on seven minutes.
Captain Gilly Flaherty – a seven-time winner of the competition – had a header from So-hyun Cho’s cross saved at the far post by Charlotte Oates moments later, with a strong tackle from Cho raising a big cheer from the Rush Green crowd.
Brooke Hendrix, back from a three-match suspension, had a header blocked and Erin Simon’s cross flashed past the boot of Ross, before the visitors were awarded a penalty against the run of play.
Skipper Kate Mallin did well to cut inside Simon and get into the box, where Hendrix was adjudged to have fouled her with a sliding tackle.
Mallin dusted herself down to fire home from the spot and give the National League North outfit, from two tiers below the WSL, a shock 14th-minute lead, but West Ham did not panic.
Kiernan hooked a shot goalwards through a crowded box when a free-kick was only half-cleared and saw it held by Oates, then steered a low cross from Alisha Lehmann wide of the far post moments later.
Lehmann showed some lovely footwork to make space for herself in midfield and, when Visalli and Ross combined to set up Longhurst for a shot that was saved, the Swiss international was also thwarted by Oates, before Longhurst finally found the net to level on 22 minutes.
The hosts would have been ahead soon after, had Kiernan not lifted a gilt-edged chance over from close range, but she made amends on 27 minutes, firing into the roof of the net after another great run and cross from Lehmann.
And West Ham scored twice in the space of a minute towards the end of the first half to take firm control of the tie, with roles reversed as Lehmann swept home the third from 19-year-old Kiernan’s left-wing cross, after a good advantage had been played following a foul on Simon on halfway.
Lehmann then found herself in acres of space again on the right and unselfishly set up Scottish international Ross for a tap-in to claim her ninth goal of the campaign.
Huddersfield had some early pressure at the start of the second half, but West Ham soon reasserted their authority as Lehmann produced a sublime pass on halfway to release Ross on the right, before her cross for Kiernan was put behind by a defender.
Longhurst then picked out Kiernan on the left with a superb ball and, after cutting inside, her low drive was pushed onto a post by Oates, before Hendrix fired over from Flaherty’s lay-off at the corner.
Ross made way for Rosie Kmita just past the hour mark and the young substitute tapped in at the far post to make it 5-1 when Lehmann skipped inside and released Kiernan for a driving run into the box and cross from the right.
And the goals continued to come as American ace Visalli fired into the roof of the net from a corner for number six, before Kmita released Kiernan on the left and she rifled over the head of Oates to double her tally for the season with nine minutes remaining.
And West Ham kept pushing until the final whistle, with New Zealand international Ria Percival continually joining attacks from right back.
And Kiernan completed her hat-trick when Flaherty’s header from a corner was pushed out by Oates and she pounced to volley the dropping ball over the line before Cho could get to it herself.
A tougher test will await in the quarter-final, no doubt, but for now West Ham Women can bask in a job well done in the sun.
West Ham: Moorhouse, Percival, Simon, Hendrix, Flaherty, Lehmann, Kiernan, Ross (Kmita 62), Longhurst (Reichardt 67), Visalli, Cho. Unused subs: Spencer, Sampson.