West Ham United women’s team will finally begin their new era as a professional club in the FA Women’s Super League this evening, welcoming Reading Women to Rush Green Stadium.
The Hammers go into their first-ever WLS match in strong form after a fantastic start to their FA Continental Tyres Cup campaign, following an opening group defeat to Arsenal with home victories over Lewes and bitter London rivals Millwall Lionesses.
Meanwhile, their opponents the Royals have won three out of their four matches so far, overcoming Durham and Manchester United and losing to Everton in the Continental Tyres Cup, meanwhile, defeating Yeovil in their first league game.
Join us to preview tonight’s historic encounter in East London, telling you everything you need to know about the clash, including getting you up to speed with everything from key match stats to ticket availability and prices for the ground-breaking match.
When and Where?
The much-anticipated affair will kick-off at 7:45 PM BST this evening (Wednesday 19 September 2018), at Rush Green Stadium, within Rush Green training ground in Romford, which is the home training base of both West Ham’s men’s and women’s first-teams.
Tickets are generously priced at £8 for adults and £2 for under-16s and can be purchased online via WHUFC.com, however, if you can’t make it along to Rush Green, you can still watch the match, as it is being streamed by the club’s official Facebook page.
In the build-up to this match, new West Ham manager Matt Beard spoke to WHUFC.com, as he gets ready to lead the Irons into a new era, having taken over from interim boss Karen Ray at the start of the summer.
“I can’t wait to get the league campaign underway,” we’ve been in training since 2 July, so we’ve had to wait a while to get our WSL season started.
“Everyone is looking forward to the match. We missed out in the first round of fixtures, because of the odd number of teams in the division, but to play our first match at home in an evening fixture will be an incredible experience for both the players and the supporters.
“We know Reading will be a tough start for us, but we’re excited and we’re confident in our own ability.
“We know Reading are a team that like to retain possession of the ball, they travel with the ball really well, but we’ve worked on what our shape looks like when we don’t have possession, and how we can force ourselves into the game.
“They’ve got some really good players like Jo Potter, Fara Williams and Brooke Chaplen, who we will need to stop from getting on the ball. Gemma Davison is also a threat, and I know that, having worked with her at Liverpool.
“We just need to play our game, get into dangerous positions, and have a go. We want to prove we can be competitive and Wednesday’s match is a good chance for us to do just that.”
As aforementioned, both teams have played three cup matches so far this campaign, but the Hammers are yet to be in WSL action, due to being the only side to sit out on the opening weekend, because of the odd number of teams in the first division.
In the Irons’ ‘Conti Cup group are the Gunners, Sussex outfit Lewes, the Lionesses and Charlton Athletic, the first three of which they have faced in August and early December.
First up was the Gunners in their first outing as professionals, which they lost 3-1, before an impressive 4-1 thrashing of Lewes at Rush Green, which was followed by Sunday afternoon’s 4-0 win over Millwall.
The tale of the tape has been similar for the Berkshire outfit as they opened up with three consecutive victories, the first two of them coming in the cup, at home and away to Durham and the Red Devils respectively, after that, thrashing Yeovil 4-0 on home turf in the WSL.
However, their solitary defeat would come in the third ‘Conti Cup group game on Sunday, albeit by the slimmest of margins, just one goal, away to Everton Ladies.
Players To Watch
Whilst there will be many players, both home and away, that it is worth keeping an eye on, we have singled out two players each to watch from the Hammers and the Royals, stars with the real capabilities to cause their opponents problems.
We will start with the newly-professional hosts and their young Dutch International forward Esmee de Graaf, the summer signing is fresh from a double in Sunday’s emphatic victory and will be up for the Wednesday night clash.
Behind her in midfield lies our second danger women and player to watch, new arrival, American attacking-midfielder Brianna Visalli, like de Graaf, the ex-Chicago Red Starts woman has two goals for the season and netted three days ago.
As for the visitors, we are also going to pick out a midfielder and a striker, England International Fara Williams and ex-Chelsea girl Brooke Chaplen, the pair have six between them this term, four for Chaplen and two for Williams, they will both by high on the Hammers’ list of players to be wary of.
League Table Permutations
We conclude by taking a look at what the result in this match could do to the FA WSL 1 table and how it will affect it, the standings are already looking interesting after just the one game.
Having not played, West Ham sit seventh on zero points out of the 11, three points could be enough to elevate them into the top four, depending on other results, whereas, the Royals are already up there, in second place and won’t want to be dropping positions, any time soon.
So, now that the Rush Green scene has been well and truly set for what promises to be a historic September evening, can the home side mark the occasion by winning their first-ever WSL fixture, or will Reading show their experience to make it two from two? Find out over on our Twitter page @WestHamMatters_, where we will be bringing you live updates, throughout the night.