Emily van Egmond’s header 16 minutes from time handed the Hammers a 2-1 Barclays FA Women’s Super League victory after Blues striker Claudia Walker had opened the scoring in the ninth minute.
Walker and Sarah Mayling both hit the post in an open, engaging encounter in which the pendulum could have swung either way with Ward highlighting Mayling’s withdrawal through injury as an influence on the outcome.
“I don’t think we deserved to lose the game, a draw would have been a true reflection and being as disappointed as we are is a sign of just how far we have come,” said Ward.
“As I said to the girls at the end, it is easy to talk about team spirit and togetherness when we are winning and now it is about how we stick together, bounce back, kick on and get ready to fight again.
“It didn’t quite fall for us. We hit the post twice and the crossbar once but when Sarah Mayling went off, after what I felt was a very poor tackle, the momentum swung a little bit.
“We need officials to protect the players. I spoke to the fourth official inside two minutes about some of the challenges that had happened early on and if it had been addressed, I don’t think we would be talking about Sarah coming off injured."
Walker was praised for her continued progress up front with a display that yielded her fifth goal of the season and typified what Blues were about across the board.
“Claudia was exceptional at holding up the ball again, she did so well and that is down to confidence,” added Ward.
“She has so much quality and ability and is also a great girl who works so hard, she is always wanting to do more.
“With Claudia it is a case of putting an arm around her. We wanted her to believe and show that bullish part to her game which she has.
“Every single one of the players has given us everything. Okay, we have let them in at times but you will not hear a negative word about this group because they are working so hard.
“They deserve to be where they are right now.”