Leicester City 1-1 West Ham United (Women’s Super League)
I’m not really feeling it today. I’m all ready to down tools for Xmas, it’s cold outside and there’s much better to do than sit through Leicester City and West Ham in the WSL. So I better keep it brief.
In fairness it’ll be my first viewing of the lady Hammers, whilst I know a bit about Leicester, I know nothing about West Ham, so after plucking up the will power to get up, get out, and get into my car… I’m off down the A46 where I stop off for some fuel and continue my journey into Leicester city centre before pulling up on Brazil Street which used to lead you in fact down towards the old Filbert Street Stadium which is now student apartments. It has rows of terraced houses and factories around here which have signs up for no parking on event days but despite a foot injury I’m chancing it ‘on street’ as the official LCFC parking app keeps adding £1.50 booking fee for each time I purchase. Not today Mr Srivaddhanaprabha, my money is being kept in my pocket.
I’ve hobbled down Burnmoor Street towards the Raw Dykes Road where the stadium appears opposite a Bristol Street Motors Renault Dealership.
There’s soft play archery for kids, an inflatable football goal, a snow globe which they can bounce inside and Santa is sitting down with some little girl on his lap.
I’ve a quick five minutes so take a look inside the club shop before deciding ‘blue’ isn’t for me. There’s a few nice bits and some Christmas jumpers on display but the only Leicester City fan I know is far from worthy of me spending £35 on them.
I’m limping towards the turnstile and head straight for my seat, I’ve chanced walking towards the press area for some peace and quiet but a steward shouts at me for crossing the boundary. The annoying thing about watching women’s football at Leicester is that only two blocks of the 30,000 seater stadium are open to the public. I’ve sat down in the seat I paid for as three teenage lads park behind me and start singing songs, waving flags, and acting like teenage boys, which isn’t a problem, but god they’re annoying… Suddenly in front of me two girls sit down, one has a clapper in her hands and is smacking it against the seat. I’ve had enough, I’m off, walking towards the corner flag which offers a great 360 view of the stadium but not so good for a scout who is attempting to watch play close up and see what’s going off? I’m bloody miles away, but at least in peace.
The first half is crap. Probably the worst half of football I’ve watched ever. The highlights when a Leicester City player kicks the ball out for a corner when trying to pass back to the goalkeeper. The second half starts in the same vein, Janina Leitzig who I’ve felt is one of the best shot stoppers in the women’s game, she lets a back pass roll over her foot as she watches it hit the post and fall back to her. It’s comical but agonising to watch. Thankfully the match picks up and Petterman scores to give Leicester the lead and something for their fans to cheer about.
That’s how it should stay. Leicester have been long the better team, they ‘try’ to play better football and knock it around well. Willie Kerr has really got them well drilled as they look to play out from the back and get it wide but in fairness the Hammers defence has hardly been strained, I’m impressed with Hawa Cissoko who’s an imposing French centre half, she however gets booked in injury time of which ten minutes have been added to test my patience further, a rash tackle then by Cissoko outside the box gives her the marching orders and West Ham are reduced to ten, but in the dying seconds they break down the left and unmarked at the back post is Hayashi to bundle in. A point snatched from looking down the barrel of defeat. I can hear a pin drop as I don’t think any West Ham fans are even in this stadium?
It was tough to watch, Leicester better on the ball, but lacking creation, West Ham defensively solid, but in attack they spurned some guilt edged opportunities. For the Hammers, despite her red it was Cissoko for me who looked their ‘classiest’ player. Big, strong, quick she defended with ease until a rash minute in added time.
For Leicester, Aimie Palmer played well in midfield, a physical presence with a positive demeanor, Lena Petterman led the line well without great service, Jutta Rantala perhaps the best of the rest, but it certainly wasn’t a day where I walked, or hobbled home, impressed.
Leicester should certainly be two points better off, and they’ll be frustrated with their late slip but they have most definitely improved in the year I’ve watched them, not a good game of football today, but you can see from the way they play, in what they try and do, it’s effective, well drilled and their points tally this season suggests one of a mid-table side, rather than a relegation struggler.
West Ham are in that ‘latter’ mix of looking over their shoulder. Only one side go down from the WSL, at the moment it’s either them or Bristol City who have the same points (5) after ten games played.
Leicester City: Janina Leitzig, Josie Green, Sophie Howard (Missy Goodwin 65), Julie Thibaud, Janice Cayman, Aimee Palmer (Remy Siemsen 88), Sam Tierney, Courtney Nevin, Aileen Whelan (Ava Baker 90), Lena Petterman, Jutta Rantala.
West Ham United: Megan Walsh, Risa Shimizu, Shannon Cooke, Hawa Cissoko, Anouk Denton (Emma Snerle 75 (Jessica Stapleton 90)), Honoka Hayashi, Abbey-Leigh Stringer (Mel Filis 87), Kirsty Smith, Jessica Ziu (Emma Harris 61), Vivianne Aseyi, Riko Ueki (Princess Ademiluyi 87).
Sunday 17th December 2023, Leicester City Stadium, Leicester (att 1,521).