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West Ham Women denied by the woodwork as champs Arsenal cling on for win

PUBLISHED: 14:30 09 September 2019

Katie McCabe of Arsenal and Erin Simon of West Ham during Arsenal Women vs West Ham United Women, Barclays FA Women's Super League Football at Meadow Park on 8th September 2019

Katie McCabe of Arsenal and Erin Simon of West Ham during Arsenal Women vs West Ham United Women, Barclays FA Women's Super League Football at Meadow Park on 8th September 2019

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Gunners given a big fright as Thomas grabs first Hammers goal

Courtney Brosnan of West Ham claims a cross during Arsenal Women vs West Ham United Women, Barclays FA Women's Super League Football at Meadow Park on 8th September 2019Courtney Brosnan of West Ham claims a cross during Arsenal Women vs West Ham United Women, Barclays FA Women's Super League Football at Meadow Park on 8th September 2019

It was a case of what might have been for West Ham Women on Sunday as they were denied a deserved point against champions Arsenal at Boreham Wood.

Last season they were pipped 4-3 by the Gunners, this time round it was 2-1, but the Hammers hit the woodwork three times in the second half and gave the title winners an almighty fright.

It was debut day for many of the new-look squad and they impressed on what was always going to be a tough day.

Martha Thomas superbly headed the Hammers back into the game after they had gone in at the break 2-0 down.

Martha Thomas of West Ham scores the first goal for her team and celebrates during Arsenal Women vs West Ham United Women, Barclays FA Women's Super League Football at Meadow Park on 8th September 2019Martha Thomas of West Ham scores the first goal for her team and celebrates during Arsenal Women vs West Ham United Women, Barclays FA Women's Super League Football at Meadow Park on 8th September 2019

She went close again, while Kenza Dali hit the frame of the goal twice in the closing stages and Adriana Leon was also denied by the woodwork as they put Arsenal under increasing pressure.

Coach Matt Beard felt his side held back in the first half.

"I'm really pleased with the performance," he said. "In the first half we showed them too much respect and were too deep.

"We created some good chances in both halves, so we are bitterly disappointed we've not walked away with at least a point."

West Ham manager Matt Beard during Arsenal Women vs West Ham United Women, Barclays FA Women's Super League Football at Meadow Park on 8th September 2019West Ham manager Matt Beard during Arsenal Women vs West Ham United Women, Barclays FA Women's Super League Football at Meadow Park on 8th September 2019

Losing the likes of Jane Ross in the summer was always going to be tough, but the new signings seemed to show plenty of promise.

"We've got seven new signings in the group from the summer," said Beard/ "From my perspective, we've got to believe in our own ability and convert the chances we are creating."

Two of those signings, both brought in from Le Havre, made their mark.

Thomas showed her goalscoring instinct, while goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan also impressed.

Kenza Dali of West Ham puts a late free-kick over the bar during Arsenal Women vs West Ham United Women, Barclays FA Women's Super League Football at Meadow Park on 8th September 2019Kenza Dali of West Ham puts a late free-kick over the bar during Arsenal Women vs West Ham United Women, Barclays FA Women's Super League Football at Meadow Park on 8th September 2019

"It was a tough choice between Courtney and Anna Moorhouse, but Brosnan has been fantastic in pre-season," said Beard.

"Everything here is done on merit and she deserved to play.

"Martha deserved her goal and she's going to be a handful for a lot of defenders. She can play in between the lines, pulls off the shoulder and is a good finisher."

One West Ham stalwart in Gilly Flaherty had a good game,even going up front near the end, but she was left disappointed.

Erin Simon of West Ham leaves the field with an injury during Arsenal Women vs West Ham United Women, Barclays FA Women's Super League Football at Meadow Park on 8th September 2019Erin Simon of West Ham leaves the field with an injury during Arsenal Women vs West Ham United Women, Barclays FA Women's Super League Football at Meadow Park on 8th September 2019

"It's frustrating because if we'd played how we did in the second half in the first, we might have got a result," she insisted.

"There's a lot of new players in our team who have to learn quickly and realise that you can't give a team like Arsenal 45 minutes to get an upper hand.

"We made it difficult for ourselves to get back into it, but we said at half time that the next goal was the most important one, it had to be us not them, and in the end we were unlucky not to come away with at least a point."

West Ham begin their home campaign this Sunday when they entertain Birmingham City at Rush Green. Kick-off is at 3pm.

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