Chloe Kelly scored a sublime first-half brace as City moved second in the WSL table with a superb 6-2 win over West Ham.

The fixture at the Academy Stadium represented our first match since a narrow 2-1 defeat to Arsenal three weeks ago.

But a Kelly double, a well taken Laura Coombs header and further goals from Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw, Steph Houghton and Mary Fowler saw us collect three vital points as we continue to battle for the title.

WHAT HAPPENED 

The meeting at the Academy Stadium was the first between the two sides since January’s reverse fixture when Shaw’s strike proved the difference.

So perhaps it was no surprise to see the Jamaican in the thick of the action early on when she reacted well to Kelly’s whipped cross from the right, but she could only direct her header over the bar on this occasion.

Moments later, though, it was our electric winger who broke the deadlock in scintillating style when she latched onto a loose back pass to delicately dink the ball past keeper from all of 20-yards.

Less than 20 seconds of play later, Kelly jaw-droppingly doubled her tally when, immediately from kick-off, she skipped past Grace Fisk and drilled a venomous effort into the bottom corner from distance.

Although West Ham may have been forgiven for losing momentum after conceding two quick-fire goals, it was the visitors who hit back when Emma Snerle collected the ball on the edge of the area and dropped her shoulder to whip an unstoppable effort into the net.

After an enthralling opening 12 minutes of fast-paced attacking play, those in attendance had to wait 10 minutes until the game’s next goal.

It came for the hosts when Kerstin Casparij and Lauren Hemp combined down the wing before the latter’s pinpoint cross found Laura Coombs who directed the ball past Mackenzie Arnold with a cushioned header.

Ahead of the match, Gareth Taylor revealed his delight with Khiara Keating‘s Coventry United loan spell after the goalkeeper was recalled from the Championship side.

“I think [she’s] a good young keeper and has potential to do really well in the game,” were the boss’ words.

And the teenager kept our advantage to two goals on the cusp of half-time when she reacted brilliantly to leap to her left and deny Lisa Evans from five-yards out.

The second half started in similar fashion to the first as City came agonisingly close to a fourth when the ball broke to Shaw inside the box and her deflected effort crashed into the bar from close range.

But it didn’t take Bunny long to get on the scoresheet as, on 62 minutes, she collected the ball with her back to goal, spun her marker to fire home her 17th WSL goal of the season.

The loudest cheer of the night perhaps came two minutes later when captain Houghton made it five when she ghosted into the back post from a corner and tapped home - the perfect gift on her birthday!

However, just like in the first half, Paul Konchesky’s side weren’t disheartened by the scoreline and continued to push.

And they were rewarded for doing so by scoring their second of the evening when Evans finally got the better of Keating by prodding home from close range.

But the scoring wasn’t over yet, with Fowler expertly heading home from a corner after being afforded too much space in the box to notch her first league goal for the Club.

It could even have been second when Kelly almost completed her hat-trick after an excellent solo run, but the winger’s effort flashed wide of the post on this occasion.

PLAYER OF THE MATCH: Chloe kelly

A thorn in West Ham’s side for the entirety of proceedings, Kelly’s spectacular brace was the least she deserved for a sparkling display.

HOW WE LINED UP

Khiara Keating was selected in-between the sticks and was protected by a back four of Kerstin Casparij, Steph Houghton, Alex Greenwood and Esme Morgan.

Our midfield three consisted of Yui Hasegawa, Filippa ANgeldahl and Laura Coombs.

And our attacking trio saw Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw lead the line with Chloe Kelly and Lauren Hemp deployed on each wing.

City XI: Keating, Casparij (Ouahabi 70’), Houghton (C), Greenwood, Morgan, Hasegawa, Angeldahl, Coombs (Castellanos 63’), Hemp (Raso 75’), Shaw (Fowler 70’) Kelly.

Substitutes: Roebuck, Stokes, Dahou.

West Ham XI: Arnold, Smith (Denton 68’), Shimizu, Evans, Snerle (Atkinson 69’), Brynjarsdóttir, Parker (Tysiak 83’), Hayashi (Thestrup 68’), Fisk, Cissoko, Asseyi.

Substitutes: Hillyerd, Longhurst, Filis.

WHAT IT MEANS

The three points moves us to second in the league table on 41 points, although we have one more game than Arsenal (fourth) and two more than Chelsea (third).

UP NEXT 

City next host Reading in the WSL at the Academy Stadium on Sunday 30 April – with kick-off scheduled for 14:00 (UK).

The match is available to watch live on CITY+ and Recast.

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