ARGYLE Ladies’ relegation-threatened season hit a new low on Sunday with a 2-0 home defeat against West Ham United.

Having dropped to the bottom of the League table following back to back defeats against Cardiff City, Argyle went into the re-arranged fixture against the Hammers knowing a win would put us back in touching distance of the teams above.

However, on a bitterly cold and blustery afternoon, despite dominating possession for long periods in the second half, Argyle’s front line lacked a cutting edge and it was the visitors who pulled themselves further away from the relegation places with two goals gifted to them on the break late in the game.

With Christmas still a month away, Argyle knew this was a massive six-pointer but started nervously and it was West Ham who carried the early threat with Michaela Phillips pulling off a fantastic save to deny the impressive Guilia Ferrandi in the opening minutes.

Argyle were struggling to make any headway, with passes going astray, and, with a strong wind in their faces, they were reliant on some resolute defending from the back four to stay in the game.

Slowly but surely, Argyle started to build some attacks with Ezme Wells making some penetrating runs down the right flank and from one such bursting into the West Ham penalty area, the young winger fired a shot high over the crossbar.

Amber Pollock on the opposite wing then got in behind the West Ham defence but her shot was well saved by Aditi Chauhan.

As the half wore on, chances were at a premium with Guilia Ferrandi for West Ham and Argyle’s Phoebe Baker seeing their long-range efforts flash narrowly wide as the teams went in level at the break.

Argyle came out with more intent after the restart, and for ten minutes they were camped in the West Ham half but were lacking the final pass. The visitors weathered the storm and it was they who nearly took the lead when Guila Ferrandi’s well struck free-kick on the hour cannoned back off the post and was cleared.

Argyle were becoming increasingly frustrated at being pulled up for every challenge and in the 67th minute, one momentary lapse in concentration allowed West Ham debutant Aysha Bentick to nip in unmarked at the far post and send a looping header over Michaela Phillips to give the visitors the lead.

It was now West Ham’s turn to defend resolutely and in the remaining 25 minutes, despite wave after wave of attacks, Argyle couldn’t find a way through and in the final minute of injury time, Bentick killed the game with her second goal of the afternoon.

With barely seconds on the clock, Argyle had sent everyone forward for a corner and almost grabbed a equaliser when Natalie Volpini’s header was blocked on the line. As the ball was cleared, Aysha Bentick outpaced Jodie Chubb and her somewhat mishit shot crept in at Michaela Phillips’ near post.

Manager Kevin Taylor was left to rue the lack of quality in the final third in a game that, in truth, was there for the taking.

“We all knew the enormity of this game”, said Taylor. “I tried to diffuse the situation to take the pressure off the younger ones. Unfortunately, we were too nervy at the start and panicked a bit when in good areas going forward.

“The longer the game went it looked like the first team to score were going to win, so the manner of their first was extremely disappointing and then we gambled late on and got caught with the second.”

The defeat leaves Argyle still at the bottom of the League and, due to their poor goal difference, effectively four points from safety. They do, however, still have games in hand on the teams immediately above them, but next Sunday’s home game with QPR is by no stretch of the imagination a must-win.

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