WSL: Arsenal 2 West Ham 1
- Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo
Arsenal Women battled their way to their first three points of the season in an eventful meeting with West Ham Women.
First-half goals from Beth Mead and Jill Roord ensured the FAWSL champions began the season with a win.
But Martha Thomas pulled one back for the Hammmers and Kenza Dali almost equalised in the dying seconds when hitting an indirect free kick over the bar.
The game got off to a frantic start as both sides had encouraging ventures forward.
West Ham had the first as from a long ball, Thomas lost Jen Beattie on halfway and drove into the box. Schnaderbeck who was playing next to Beattie, covered her well however.
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Arsenal then had flurries forward with Katie McCabe and Kim Little getting shots off but neither had enough time to have good efforts.
The game continued in a back-and-forth manner and Arsenal took advantage 14 minutes in.
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Seconds after West Ham's Kenza Dali whistled a shot wide, Mead gave the champions the lead. Receiving the ball on the edge of the box, she smashed it across goal and into the bottom corner.
After scoring, Mead showed the character which won Arsenal the league last year, tracking back into her defensive third, sliding in and winning a goal kick for her efforts.
Joe Montemurro's side went on to dominate the rest of the half and doubled their lead just before the break.
This time, Mead held the ball up inside the box before laying off to the onrushing Roord who caressed the ball past Courtney Brosnan.
Arsenal almost went three ahead within minutes of the second half but van de Donk skied an effort from inside the six-yard box.
The chance came from some dogged play by Leonie Maier who clipped the ball to Lisa Evans down the right. The Scot put in a teasing cross but van de Donk couldn't take advantage.
Making her FAWSL debut, goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger gifted West Ham a way back into the game.
Looking to play her way out of trouble, the visitors pinched the ball off her inside the box but rushed their attempt on goal.
More confident, the Hammers threw more bodies forward which paid off within minutes.
After Adriana Leon hit the crossbar, Thomas got herself on the scoresheet with a towering header which gave Zinsberger no chance.
Similar to the pre-season North London Derby, the loudest cheer of the day came when Jordan Nobbs made her return to FAWSL action just after the hour-mark.
The visitors didn't care for Nobbs' return, however, and kept searching for an equaliser.
They almost found in with ten minutes to go as Dali's free kick was deflected away from Zinsberger and onto the post. Luckily for Arsenal, the ball fell to Leah Williamson who cleared.
The game became scrappier as it neared its close but the FAWSL champions were able to battle their way over the finish line.
Arsenal: Manuela Zinsberger; Leonie Maier, Jennifer Beattie, Viktoria Schnaderbeck, Katie McCabe; Leah Williamson, Kim Little, Jill Roord; Lisa Evans, Beth Mead, Danielle van de Donk. Subs: Pauline Peyraud-Magnin, Emma Mitchell, Louise Quinn, Jordan Nobbs, Ruby Grant, Melisa Filis.