West Ham United Women’s manager Olli Harder feels that Hawa Cissoko’s controversial opening-day red card changed the entire game, as they fell 2-0 to Brighton & Hove Albion at the AMEX Stadium.
The Hammers dominated the early proceedings in the Barclays FA WSL clash, going close twice through Canadian forward Adriana Leon.
But everything changed on the half-hour mark when Cissoko was sent off for blocking a Danielle Carter strike with her arm, resulting in a Brighton penalty.
Inessa Kaagman stepped up to give the hosts the lead before the Seagulls doubled their advantage minutes later through Lee Geum-min.
And Harder feels the controversial red card was detrimentally decisive for the Hammers.
“I haven’t looked at the situation back, but obviously, it pretty much killed the game,” said Harder.
“We were on top, and we were here to get points and that’s very difficult to do when you’ve got 10 players on the pitch so obviously it’s frustrating.
“It’s a double jeopardy. The bottom line is, I’m happy to go one goal down if I’ve got 11 players on the pitch and I think you’re still in the game.
“So, no I’m not happy with the fact that they can have a penalty and the handball and a red card when potentially, by the sounds of it, it’s not a deliberate handball.”
West Ham managed to shore things up in the second half, keeping Brighton comfortably at bay, although they were unable to score themselves.
And Harder admitted that he was proud of his side’s reaction in the face of adversity.
“I think it shows a lot of character for our team to go out with ten players for 60 minutes and actually create the chances that we did,” he added.
“I think anyone watching the game can also arguably say it could have been 2-2.
“We had chances and we made the effort to try and get out and not lay back and do double shifts basically because of the one player down. It’s a huge credit to the girls.
“We knew that was coming because we’ve recruited some excellent personalities, the way they communicated, the way they work together, that was important to me.
“I’m very unhappy with not taking points away, but very pleased with the reaction that you can expect from a great group of girls.”
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Source by Football London