Report: West Ham United 1 Blues 0
Adriana Leon’s first-half strike decided an even contest at Rush Green with Blues unable to find a breakthrough.
Leon swept in at the far post with 27 minutes on the clock and while England international Lucy Staniforth went close with a series of long-range efforts for Blues, hitting the underside of the bar via Courtney Brosnan’s glove late on, it proved the only goal of the game.
Blues manager Marta Tejedor made one change to the XI that kicked off the 1-0 home defeat to Everton, promoting Harriet Scott from the bench in place of Lucy Whipp.
The visitors had the first opening of note, Claudia Walker dashing into a pocket of space on the left of the box and forcing a fine one-handed save from Brosnan despite the acute angle.
Blues kept probing but had a scare when Chloe Arthur was caught in possession by Kate Longhurst who drove into the box only to shoot straight at Hannah Hampton.
Hammers steadily began to force their way forward and Jacynta Galabadaarachchi’s snapshot from a half-cleared free-kick had to be pushed over by Hampton 20 minutes in.
Defender Rebecca Holloway was then booked for bringing down Martha Thomas to the right edge of the box with Katharina Baunach narrowly clearing the crossbar from the free-kick.
West Ham’s breakthrough arrived three minutes later, though, another swift move down the right being played inside to Longhurst who considered the shot before finding Leon to sweep inside the far post.
Blues steadied the ship and worked their way back into contention, threatening a handful of times before the interval.
Staniforth fired narrowly wide of the near post with a rising 25-yard drive after Sarah Mayling had caught out Leon on the right, Scott also took aim from similar range and Staniforth had a 20-yard free-kick but both were gathered by Brosnan.
Walker flashed a fraction wide of the far post with a low, crisp shot three minutes after the restart with Leon nodding off target from Baunach’s deep corner at the other end.
Leon was involved again in the 55th minute, drilling across goal but captain Kerys Harrop was on hand to clear from in front of the line.
Blues kept plugging away, Abbi Grant cutting in from the left to have a curler deflected wide and as the game began to open up at both ends Mayling’s shot from 10 yards flew straight at Brosnan.
Grant was a fraction away from connecting with a header in front of goal and the Blues pressure kept building with Gilly Flaherty forced to clear over her own bar from a Walker cross that followed Mayling’s surge in from the right.
United went close to wrapping up the points on the break with 13 minutes to play when a long punt forward by Brosnan played Martha Thomas in behind to lift off target with Hampton bearing down on her.
Blues heads were in hands when Staniforth’s swinging, rising 25-yard drive was fumbled by Brosnan against the underside of the bar and gathered without quite going over the line.
In added time another Staniforth drive had to be pushed around the post by the on-song Brosnan and Mayling was thwarted in front of the line in a scramble from the corner that followed in a frustrating finish.
West Ham: Brosnan, Simon (Kvamme 63), Flaherty, Thomas, Baunach (Hendrix 83), Longhurst, Galabadaarachchi (Lehmann 56), Leon, Cho, Dali, Vetterlein.
Subs not used: Middag, Moorhouse.
Goal: Leon (27)
Booking: Longhurst (18)
Blues: Hampton, Scott (Whipp 83), Harrop, Holloway, Jordan, Staniforth, Arthur (Scofield 78), Visalli, Grant, Mayling, Walker.
Subs not used: Logan, Williams, Goodwin, Rabjohn, Brooks.
Bookings: Harrop (20), Holloway (24)
Referee: Paul Howard