West Ham Ladies defender Hayley West has called on her teammates to have more self-belief and confidence to help drive a push up the table.
The centre half was the standout performer for the Hammers during a 1-1 draw with league leaders Gillingham last month – a game the centre back believes could prove to be the catalyst for an unbeaten run in the FA Women’s Premier League South. Reflecting on the result, she said: “We didn’t know if the Gillingham game was going to be on or not when we travelled there because of the weather but once we got the all clear after the pitch inspection, we were just all up for it.
“They are at the top of the league and we wanted to give them a good game. We hadn’t really hit our best form and it hadn’t really happened for us this season even though we had been playing well so it was great to get the result we did. “They had put a lot of pressure on us in the first half and Toni [Anne Wayne] had to make some really good saves to keep us at 0-0 at at half time.
“Our talk at half time was how well we were doing and how we just needed to keep going and put a bit more pressure on them and we could hear their manager ripping into his players and it gave us a boost. “And even though we came out in the second half and went a goal down, we didn’t give up and kept pressing and then Cherelle came on and scored pretty quickly.
“From that moment on we started to win everything, first and second balls, and even though it poured down in the last 10 minutes, we didn’t give up. “The morale at the end of the game was amazing. To have come from 1-0 down against the league leaders and not give up was great. “We were all buzzing after the game and Mark was really pleased with us – it was such a great feeling.” She continued: “This season our aim was – and still is – to win the league.
“With our bid to join the women’s super league rejected, we want to try and promote ourselves and get more recognised this season. There is no better way of doing this then winning games, leagues and trophies. We all have that goal in mind.
“We have got brilliant players who are starting to really combine with each other. We know how we want to play and I think we will kick on from here. “If winning the league is not on, then getting as close as we can at the end of the season must be our aim.” Hayley joined the Hammers in the summer and admits she is enjoying her football again after falling out of love with the game at Colchester United.
“It’s a whole new team this season with Mark bringing in new players like me but the team dynamic is so much better,” she continued. “It’s just the whole set-up and everything that’s going on behind the scenes which has really impressed me. The team has also bonded really well and we have a lot of banter. “Before this season, I hadn’t played centre back before but I’ve learnt quickly and I’ve learnt a lot.
“What has also helped me is that the back four is more settled now. We lost a few players through injuries and leaving the club altogether but the last few games we’ve had the same back four and we have got a much better understanding. Sophie and I at the back work well together and both Jade and Lindsey are great full backs.”
The centre back also picked out centre forward Natalie Crinean, winger Kelley Blanchflower and ‘keeper Toni-Anne Wayne for their impressive performances recently. “Natalie has been one of our standout players this season,” the former Colchester United player said. “I’ve got no idea how she can hold the ball up for so long. The ball gets up to her and she just holds off other players until laying it off. Also if we have to go more direct, she wins nine out of ten headers in the air.”
She added: “Kelley has made quite an impact in recent games and is more attacking and has more confidence. Toni is a quality ‘keeper just from her talking and decisions she makes. It’s great having her behind me especially being new to the centre back role, she has been great at talking me through games.”
The Ladies host Coventry on Sunday, November 3. Kick off at 2pm at Thurrock FC, Ship Lane, Aveley, Essex, EM19 1YN