Sam Kerr marked her first start of the 2023/24 WSL season by scoring the first goal in Chelsea’s 2-0 win over West Ham at Kingsmeadow on Saturday evening.
The Australian forward – who was sidelined with a calf injury for much of her home World Cup in the summer – netted with a bullet header after 36 minutes, having earlier seen a strike ruled out for offside.
West Ham competed well and impressed in periods throughout the game, yet they were missing a clinical touch, with only two of their 14 attempts on goal hitting the target.
And the hosts sealed the derby win in the 90th minute, when substitute Erin Cuthbert danced her way through the box and coolly sidefooted home.
Emma Hayes’ Blues move top of the Barclays WSL after continuing their unbeaten start, while the Hammers are eighth with three points from their first three league games of the season.
Chelsea:Musovic (6), Bright (7), Mjelde (7), Carter (7), Lawrence (6), Leupolz (7), Ingle (6), Charles (7), James 7, Kerr (8), Kirby (7).
Subs:Cuthbert (7), Nusken (6), Beever-Jones (6), Fleming (6)
West Ham:Arnold (7), Smith (7), Cissoko (6), Cooke (6), Denton (6), Hayashi (5), Shimizu (7), Evans (5), Asseyi (5), Ueki (5), Harries (7)
Subs:Atkinson (5), Tysiak (5)
Player of the match:Sam Kerr
How Chelsea climbed to the summit once again
West Ham, looking sharp on the counter, mustered up a handful of early chances, with Emma Harries’ curling effort from 18 yards that whistled just over the pick of the bunch. They had never beaten the Blues in the WSL, so if they wanted to change that trend, they knew the first goal would be key.
Chelsea did have the ball in the net with 12 minutes gone, when Kerr slammed in after Sophie Ingle had seen a shot blocked, albeit the Australian had done so from an offside position, which saw the strike swiftly ruled out.
Either side of the disallowed goal, Kerr connected with crosses from Lauren James on the right and glanced wide, seemingly shaking off a touch of understandable rust. There was no way she would be kept quiet for the entirety, though, and when Charles clipped the ball in from the opposite flank, the Australian powered a header home.
The Hammers had never been out of the game in the first half, but they really started to try and force the issue at the start of the second. During a period of particularly intense pressure, Zecira Musovic had to stay laser-focused to tip Kirsty Smith’s overhead effort over the bar.
It proved to be a flash in the pan, though. As Chelsea started to turn the screw, James somehow dragged a shot across the face of goal, before Mackenzie Arnold brilliantly pushed a deflected cross behind and Sjoeke Nusken sent a wayward volley over.
- Chelsea boss Emma Hayes made four changes to the side that started the 1-1 draw with Man City. Erin Cuthbert, Jessie Fleming, Guro Reiten and Mia Fishel replaced by Melanie Leupolz, Fran Kirby, Maren Mjelde and Sam Kerr.
- Emma Harries made her first West Ham league start since her summer move from Reading as the only change from the win at Brighton last time out. She replaced Abbey-Leigh Stringer, who started on the bench.
They did finally double their advantage, though, when Cuthbert – who was presented with a commemorative shirt by Hayes prior to kick off, after making her 200th appearance for the club last time out – strolled through the area, exchanged passes with Jessie Fleming and rolled in.
Chelsea return to Kingsmeadow next weekend to host Brighton on Sunday October 22; kick-off 2pm.
West Ham also play next on Sunday October 22 as they take on Liverpool at home; kick-off 3pm.