By George Overhill

26th Mar, 2022 | 8:30pm

West Ham Women expert looks back at encouraging cup win at Ipswich

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…

West Ham Women expert Michelle Irons was very pleased with the performance in reaching the FA Cup semi finals with a win at Ipswich.

She was less pleased with yet more issues for fans wishing to attend matches, a problem that continues to arise this season and deserves the attention of decision makers.

The final instalment of four games in quick succession saw Olli Harder’s take the momentum from the last-gasp equaliser against Manchester United into a good cup win on the road.

Speaking exclusively to West Ham Zone Irons said: “West Ham travelled to Ipswich with a near full strength squad. This was held at the 2,000 maximum capacity Goldstar Ground with a handful of Hammers fans dotted around.

“I was unable to get a ticket for this fixture and maybe can question if this was the right ground to hold this type of game seeing as a lot of fans missed out? 

“We played with a youthful starting 11 with two teenagers starting in Halle Houssein and Mel Filis, and it was nice to see both these players have a real influence on our forward play.

“Zanetta Wayne was bright, getting a lot of the ball, and whipping in lots of crosses, as well as playing through balls for Lisa Evans and Claudia Walker.

“The home side were stubborn in midfield and defence and Paige Peake had an impressive game.

“20-year-old Filis was also impressive with an early shot which soared narrowly over the bar after nicking the ball just outside the area.

“She won the ball from Bonnie Horwood before taking a touch and hitting it hard, although she may be had enough time to carry that ball on more.

“A very similar chance fell to Houssein who made the keeper react late to push it away for a corner. When that subsequently fell to Lucy Parker who hit the upright, it was only a matter of time until the Hammers scored. 

“Our goal came from a real short goal kick which did not clear the half way line. It eventually reached Evans who released the smartly reacting Filis, who then threaded a beautifully timed pass back to Evans to dink it over the keeper and make it 0-1. 

“Numerous chances came in the second half, with the Ipswich keeper doing her bit to keep the Suffolk side very much in the tie.

“Ultimately our flexibility on the bench and fitness levels saw us progress to the semis for the second time in three seasons. 

I was very impressed with team selection and professionalism. The Hammers rightly progressed to the semi final to play Man City at home.  

“That fixture is no doubt an important one. This season we have worked for our place in the semis and have as good a chance as anyone to beat City.

“It is the same old problem as I have seen that this fixture is scheduled for the same time as the men’s Premier League fixture against Burnley.

“It is really disappointing once again from the FA to not support women’s development and I hope the time or in fact the date will be considered for change. 

“On a positive note, I’m really impressed with Filis. She was lively, full of energy, and looking to make things happen. Once again this team have made huge strides from last season which is now firmly in the past.”

The positives from a strong run of results and important contributions from the youngster Filis are a good return for the testing two-week stretch.

But the latest examples of an apparent disregard for fans of the women’s game can’t help but leave a bitter taste.

Too often authorities talk a good game but fail to follow it up with action. Women’s football has grown considerably in recent years, but if it is going to be let down by this kind of behaviour it will continue operating at a disadvantage.

In other West Ham news, men’s manager David Moyes has heaped praise on a pair of first team players for raising the standards at the club.

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