Southern champs take on Blackburn in a month’s time after cup finals
Tottenham 4-0 West Ham by Asif Burhan at White Hart Lane
IT HAD been 11 months and 11 days since a Tottenham Hotspur side lost a match at White Hart Lane and on their first appearance at the famous old stadium in a decade, unbeaten Spurs Ladies were not about to let that record end as they clinched the FA Women’s Premier League South title in front of over 2,000 fans.
“For me, it’s a dream come true,” said Tottenham manager Karen Hills. “If you’d have told me seven years ago, when I took over this team, that you could go and play at White Hart Lane and then go and win the league and and have an opportunity to play [in the] WSL [Women’s Super League], I wouldn’t have believed it.”
The two teams had met in another high-profile encounter at Upton Park last season but, with West Ham starting only two survivors from that match, this game was played without the underlying spite that marred that occasion when an alleged off-the-ball stamp overshadowed what should have been a showcase for the women’s game.
Spurs began by attacking predominantly down the right utilising the pace of Lucia Leon and Bianca Baptiste and the long passing of Josie Green.
West Ham — struggling at the foot of the Women’s Premier League table — took time to settle, but once they did took the game to their opponents.
Chloe Burr tested ToniAnne Wayne from long-range in the 19th minute. This sparked the home side to up their game; two minutes later Spurs striker Wendy Martin flicked a left-wing cross from Leah Rawle against the bar.
The opening goal soon followed as the impressive Green, brought in from WSL 2 side Watford Ladies, shot powerfully from distance.
West Ham keeper Lottie Ivison punched the ball up but not out, and it looped over her — bouncing into the net. Hills said afterwards: “It was set up nicely, once that first goal went in, it was a bit of pressure off us.”
Martin twice came close to extending Spurs lead at the start of the second half, first just failing to connect with Baptiste’s right-wing cross then turning and shooting narrowly wide from the edge of the area. She made it third-time-lucky in the 56th minute when she swept home another Baptiste cross at the near post.
Nikita Whinnett came on for Kelley Blanchflower on the hour and, 10 minutes later, she seized upon a mis-hit clearance from Ivison, exchanged passes with Martin, before curling past the West Ham goalkeeper at her near post. The excellent Baptiste then smashed in a fourth after more good work by Whinnett.
Tottenham can now look forward to a Premier League play-off at The Valley against Northern Division champions Blackburn Rovers on May 28 but not before completing their league campaign and playing in two cup finals.
“It’s back to work tomorrow,” Hills admitted. “I’ll give them the night off because I’ll be quite nice, but we’ll prepare as we normally do because we want to keep this unbeaten run going. There’s still things to be achieved and this team, the way they’re playing and the performances they’re putting in — anything’s possible”.