By James Murray

11th Oct, 2023 | 10:10pm

West Ham United: Women's expert reacts to 'fantastic' win v Brighton

West Ham Women’s expert Michelle Irons has provided her reaction to the victory over Brighton Women on Sunday (8 October).

The Hammers secured a 2-0 win on the south coast, courtesy of goals in each half from Kirsty Smith and Riko Ueki to register their first three points of the season.

Irons admitted that she is “really pleased” with the result to get the WSL campaign up and running, adding that the East Londoners’ work rate was “fantastic” against the Seagulls.

“West Ham don’t seem to have a great record against Brighton, but our dynamic has changed, with a switch in formation to a 5-3-2 and captain Macca Arnold in goal,” Irons exclusively told West Ham Zone.

“A quick attack from West Ham with Asseyi winning the ball as she does with ease saw her release Evans with a well-hit cross that had lots of pace and spin. Brighton seemed confused with not one defender attempting to clear as Kirsty Smith closed in but, unfortunately, her shot went over. Smith always looked to attack and press the opponent.

“West Ham had a really nice passing phase, which opened up Brighton in the middle. I wouldn’t say that was our strength as we miss Dagny, but overall a nice battle with Hayashi trying to release balls quickly. Cissoko and Shannon Cooke looked comfortable together, with a nice relationship building between the two defenders now, as both are confident on the ball under pressure.

“West Ham opened up the scoring when Ueki released a thunderous strike, which hit the post and fell beautifully to Smith again and she made no mistake in ensuring the ball crossed the line. Her first goal for West Ham and very well deserved. It did appear that Asseyi was fouled in the build-up but credit to the ref for giving the advantage.

“Brighton were well contained and had their first real chance around the 20-minute mark, which is testament to our discipline and our backline remaining concentrated. Brighton didn’t really trouble us, having had a few corners that Arnold dealt with easily. We really disrupted their play a lot and that changed their forward play.

“Vivi Asseyi had a wonderful chance to double the lead when she had the option to either shoot or release Lisa Evans, but she eventually shot well wide, which was a shame as she works very hard for the team in all areas. Overall a very good half from her as she has linked up well with Riko Ueki up front.

“There were no changes for the second half even though both our attackers had been booked, with the pair looking lively and continuing to close their opponents down and support each other.

“Evans was giving Brighton a torrid time with Denton behind her. She won a free-kick and whipped in a pinpoint ball for Riko to calmly head home. Her first goal for West Ham in the league.

“She came close soon after with a great piece of link-up play with Asseyi, but the goalkeeper produced a low save to deny Riko a quick double. West Ham were calm and collected and did their defensive duties with no real threat from Brighton as they just couldn’t get past our solid backline and covering wingers.

“Really pleased with this as Lee of Brighton is always a threat but hardly had a kick. It was a composed second half from us, with the team showing fantastic work rate in closing down and utilising the space.

“At 65 minutes, Kirsty Smith was subbed off with what looked like a shoulder injury, but she was outstanding and she was everywhere. She worked so hard going forward and in her defensive duties, as she made use of the space and created so many chances.

“She got her first goal for the club and could have had two. Hopefully, she won’t be out for long as she’s pivotal to our team. Really pleased with this result as we got our first points of the campaign.”

Next up for West Ham Women is a game against Charlton Women at home in the first group stage fixture of the Conti Cup on Wednesday (11 October).

In other West Ham news, one team were “miles in front” when they faced the Hammers.