By George Overhill

8th Apr, 2022 | 6:30am

West Ham Women expert takes positives from defeat to Manchester City on Gilly Flaherty's century

We’re delighted to welcome Michelle Irons as our exclusive West Ham Women’s expert. Each week she’ll be giving her views on the biggest talking points at Victoria Road…

Despite a second consecutive defeat it was a much improved performance for our West Ham Women expert to reflect on against Manchester City.

Unlike the careless errors in a sloppy defeat against Brighton, the Hammers put up a good fight against one of the giants of the WSL.

It was also skipper Gilly Flaherty’s 100th appearance in an Iron’s shirt, and she played up to the occasion with an excellent performance that pleased Michelle Irons to see.

Speaking exclusively to West Ham Zone Irons said: “West Ham probably started with their best XI in terms of creativity and pace, bringing in Lisa Evans up front alongside Yui Hasegawa and Dagny Brynjarsdóttir.

“It was a shame to hear that Kateřina Svitkova missed out due to illness, something she was struggling with all week leading up to the game.

“Man City have improved after a poor start to the season for them, and they started this game no differently.

“Their England full-back Alex Greenwood had a lot of the ball and a lot of time and space to exert her influence on the game.

“The opening goal came after a heavy touch from Hawa Cissoko, which lead to Hayley Raso getting in some space to pass for Georgia Stanway to slot home.

“This was a frustrating goal to concede as we probably had two or three opportunities to clear the danger but didn’t, and we got punished for our lack of concentration.

“At this point in the season we should not be making mistakes like that which has resulted in us dropping points.

“After this I think we stepped up and created some good chances, with Lucy Parker really excelling down the wing for us. She changed positions for this game and showed a lot of pace and strength, and an eye for a cross.

“She linked up with Adriana Leon really well which then allowed Evans to push up more.

The first half was full of dangerous touches by City, and they controlled the tempo and the style of the game. They were always looking to release Khadija Shaw.

“Gilly Flaherty was marking Shaw and I thought she was exceptional. She was solid and produced an impressive performance on her 100th appearance. She was an ever-present shadow to Shaw and really kept us in the game.

“Half time approached with not much to really report on. Going forward, for us it was purely just going through the motions.

“Claudia Walker came on for Tameka Yallop in the second half and looked bright and full of energy. She had an early chance to equalise but her header just flew over the bar.

“It’s safe to say that Man City are not the same team we played in October. At that time earlier in the season we really took our chances and latched on to the misfortune of their injury crisis.

“This was was more of a reality check and that’s being a realistic West Ham fan, but I’d like us to build on our already recognised improvements and push on.

“City’s second goal, which meant game over, came after an excellent finger tip save from a mighty left-footed Caroline Weir shot.

“As the ball came in it fell perfectly for Bunny Shaw to head City clear.

“Five minutes later Mackenzie Arnold produced another wonderful save to keep the score at 2-0. I don’t think this fixture has ever been goalless!

“Nevertheless we stood up to the footballing giant that is Man City and gave a relatively good account for ourselves.

“Overall Flaherty was excellent, along with Lucy Parker, showing some great footballing skills and combining her touch and pace, and Leon worked very hard considering she’s missed a lot of games recently.

“Next up is Reading away in the league, one that I’m looking forward to as its a personal favourite of mine.

“Also as a fan and season ticket holder it was really nice to see the club recognise Dagny last weekend on Mothers Day and Gilly Flaherty for reaching 100 appearances as captain for the club.

Before the Reading game there is the small matter of a rematch against City in the FA Cup semi final.

Despite an indifferent run of league form Olli Harder’s side remain about as mid-table as could be in seventh.

With little to play for the rest of the league campaign, attentions will turn to the change of reaching Wembley in the cup, and maintaining encouraging performances like this one.

In other West Ham news, European football expert Andy Brassell tips West Ham as the destination for an in demand £50million player.

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