United just had to win on Sunday afternoon to keep their chances of qualifying for the top three alive and they did just that with a convincing win against the Hammers. The Reds just have one game to go before the end of the campaign.
While the goalless draw against Aston Villa was frustrating, Marc Skinner stuck with the same side that had played against the Birmingham outfit last week. Katie Zelem was partnered by Jackie Groenen in midfield, with Ella Toone, Leah Galton, Alessia Russo and Martha Thomas starting in the front four.
The Reds started quite brightly in the game, as Ona Batlle tested the West Ham goal early on. After a dribble on the right, her shot was saved well by Mackenzie Arnold. The Hammers stopper was called into action from the resulting corner too, as she had to deny Thomas after West Ham couldn’t clear the ball away on time.
With United dominating for a vast majority of the first ten minutes, they took a deserved lead in the 11th minute. Zelem’s impressive pass from midfield found Galton, who managed to set up Thomas perfectly. The Scot tapped home to hand United a lead.
Thomas was heavily involved for the second goal as well, as she passed inside to find a teammate but the ball trickled past the goalline off West Ham’s Grace Frisk.
Lisa Evans did have a golden chance to pull one back for West Ham in the 23rd minute after Hayley Ladd error. But Maria Thorisdottir blocked the shot brilliantly with her face to keep the scoreline at 2-0. The ex-Chelsea defender saved Ladd’s blushes at the very end of the first-half, as she managed to block Tameka Yallop’s shot from the edge of the box.
Early on in the second half, United made their dominance pay once again. Russo, who found herself with the ball in space on the right, picked out Galton, who found the back of the net with a good left-footed finish. It wasn’t anything less than what United deserved.
Skinner’s side had a chance to make it four just a minute later, as Toone’s shot from inside the box was parried away by Arnold.
A neat exchange involving Toone and Russo nearly led to United getting a fourth later in the game, but the 22-year-old’s effort went just over the goal. While West Ham did have some openings, United stood tall, holding onto a well-deserved clean sheet at the end.
Even though the Reds are back up to third in the table, their next game sees them face Chelsea in the last game of the campaign. As things stand, they rely on Man City dropping points to finish inside the top three.