West Ham edged out by Manchester City in WSL finale

West Ham United goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold saved two penalties against Manchester City

West Ham United goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold saved two penalties against Manchester City - Credit: PA

Manchester City were forced to settle for a second-placed finish in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League as a 1-0 final day victory at West Ham wasn’t enough to leapfrog Chelsea at the summit.

Ellen White’s 75th-minute strike separated the sides in Dagenham and the scoreline could have been more comprehensive were it not for Hammers goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold, who brilliantly kept out both Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle from the spot.

City also hit the woodwork three times but Chelsea’s convincing 5-0 victory over Reading saw the Blues become champions for the second successive season and made City’s victory academic in the title race.

Gareth Taylor’s side began the day knowing they needed to win to stand any chance of reeling in the leaders and started on the front foot, Mewis signalling their intent with a 20-yard effort inside two minutes which was comfortably held by Arnold.

The Australian was called into action again on 11 minutes to keep out Janine Beckie from point-blank range when the striker perhaps could have squared to White.

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Having survived the early spell of pressure, the hosts came close themselves in spectacular fashion through Hawa Cissoko, whose acrobatic volley dropped just wide midway through the first half after a move started by a fine run by the centre-half.

City went straight back on the attack and were inches away from breaking the deadlock when Caroline Weir’s left-footed drive came back off the crossbar.

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Beckie headed wide and Weir had a close-range effort scrambled away by a combination of Arnold and Gilly Flaherty on the line as the visitors continued to threaten.

They were handed a great chance to open the scoring six minutes before the break when Arnold brought down White but the goalkeeper redeemed herself, diving to her right to deny Mewis from 12 yards.

The second half started in much the same vein and City were denied by the woodwork twice in a matter of seconds in the 53rd minute as Esme Morgan and Mewis each saw headers hit the bar.

Lavelle was introduced on the hour mark to aid City’s search for a breakthrough and she quickly pounced on a poor clearance by Arnold to set up Weir, only for the Scottish international to see her shot blocked.

But West Ham’s brave resistance was broken 15 minutes from time when Cissoko had her pocket picked by Lucy Bronze down City’s right and White was on hand to steer home the cross for her tenth WSL goal of the season.

Seven minutes later, Bronze got the better of Cissoko again and was brought down inside the area – but a change in penalty taker did not alter the outcome as Arnold flew to her right once more to keep out Lavelle.

The hosts rarely threatened an equaliser and end the season ninth, while the two sides will meet again next weekend in the fifth round of the Women’s FA Cup.

West Ham: Arnold, Flaherty, Fisk, Cissoko, Pacheco, Brynjarsdottir, Barker (Kiernan 73), Vetterlein (Mustafa 81), Dali, Longhurst, Denton. Unused subs: Brosnan.

Referee: Kirsty Dowle.

*To follow the action and sign up for The FA Player’s live Barclays FA Women’s Super League coverage visit womenscompetitions.thefa.com  

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