Aston Villa 1-1 West Ham: Cooke rescues late point for visitors at Villa Park

It was a tale of two second-half substitutes at Villa Park on Sunday, as Shannon Cooke salvaged a last-gasp share of the spoils for West Ham United against Aston Villa in the Barclays Women’s Super League.

It appeared that Alisha Lehmann’s 72nd-minute opener had secured all three points for the hosts, however, the Hammers’ defender popped up in the fifth minute of six added on at the end of the game to heartbreakingly deny Carla Ward’s side the victory.

A point lifts Villa to 21 for the season, and leaves the Hammers hoping top-of-the-table Manchester City do them a favour against Bristol City later this evening in their fight against avoiding relegation to the Championship.

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As it happened

Undefeated on their last two head-to-head expeditions to the second city, visiting West Ham saw the first sight of goal in the seventh minute as Riko Ueki fired straight at 17-year-old Sophia Poor – who was making her full debut in the Barclays Women’s Super League – due to Daphne van Domselaar’s season-ending hip injury and Anna Leat’s ongoing suspension.

Rehanne Skinner’s side continued their invigorated start in the ‘Claret and Blue derby’ at Villa Park not long after, as Jessica Ziu was agonisingly inches away from making sufficient contact on the ball at the back post – courtesy of a delicious delivery into the danger zone via the outside of Viviane Asseyi’s boot.

Despite appearing slightly more likely to break the deadlock in the opening 45 minutes, West Ham were forced to temporarily abandon their attacking endeavours at the sound of referee Emily Heaslip’s half-time whistle – as Villa concluded the half with a spell of encouraging possession that led to Adriana Leon firing straight at Hammers’ captain Mackenzie Arnold.

Victorious in only one home league WSL encounter – across both the Poundland Bescot Stadium and Villa Park this season – Villa flew out of the blocks following the restart as Rachel Daly’s close-range bullet header flew marginally above the frame of the crossbar. Kenza Dali then forced Arnold to redirect her thunderous long-range free-kick behind for a corner as the game approached the final 20 minutes.

The hosts’ pressure finally paid dividends in the 72nd minute as second-half super sub Lehmann – despite being on the pitch for only three minutes got the slightest of touches to Kirsty Hanson’s delivery across goal – that helped the ball’s trajectory into the corner of the net.

Seemingly the Swiss international’s strike had blown the wind out of the Hammers’ sails, but deep into second-half stoppage-time another player from the dugout, in the form of Shannon Cooke, popped up to secure a potentially pivotal late point for West Ham as she buried Ueki’s cross beyond Poor from close range.

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The lineups

AVL: Poor; Maritz, Turner, Patten, Mayling; Taylor, Nobbs; Hanson, Dali, Leon; Daly

WHU: Arnold; Zadorsky, Tysiak, Cissoko, Smith; Hayashi, Snerle, Shimizu; Asseyi, Ueki, Ziu