Martha Thomas’ hat-trick helped move West Ham off the bottom of the table with an emphatic victory over Reading.
Kenza Dali’s cross sailed over Royals goalkeeper Grace Moloney after seven minutes, before Katerina Svitkova nodded in at the back post.
Thomas put the Hammers 3-0 up after 11 minutes before adding two more, her third a fine lob after 37 minutes.
Reading pushed for a second-half goal but West Ham kept their clean sheet intact as they moved up to 10th.
The visitors moved above relegation rivals Aston Villa and Bristol City thanks to a dazzling first-half display that belied their position at the foot of the table.
Dali got West Ham off to the perfect start in fortuitous circumstances as her cross sailed over Moloney, and Svitkova headed in Kate Longhurst’s cross to make it two inside 10 minutes.
Just a minute later it was three, as Dali seized on some loose Reading passing in midfield to drive forward and make space for Thomas to extend the advantage against their shell-shocked hosts.
The Royals again played a part in their own downfall for the fourth, giving the ball away unnecessarily to allow Cecilie Redisch to exchange passes with Thomas before squaring it for the Scottish striker to add her second.
Thomas completed her hat-trick after 37 minutes, expertly lifting the ball over the advancing Moloney following Dali’s through ball, to make it 5-0 at half-time.
Rachel Rowe had a chance to get a goal back for Reading who started the second period brightly, but her effort curled narrowly wide of the post.
West Ham goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan was determined to keep her clean sheet intact as Reading began to ask more questions, but had her crossbar to thank late on when Fara Williams’ free-kick rattled the woodwork.
The victory is West Ham’s first league win since 13 December and their first under manager Olli Harder, ending an eight-game winless run.
Meanwhile Reading have not won in five games since their fine victory over third-placed Manchester United on 7 February.
Reading manager Kelly Chambers:
“I don’t think we came out with the fight and desire today that I ask the girls to come out with. We tried to play our game but West Ham pressed us more aggressively than they normally do.
“I thought we caused our own problems in the first half. We didn’t show the adaptability that we showed against Manchester City and it simply cost us today.
“The players are gutted with the result and we should have played better. We’ve got to show our pride to finish as high as we can in the league. We apologise to the fans for our first-half performance as it was unacceptable.”
Hammers boss Olli Harder:
“A fantastic performance from Martha Thomas. As a striker, it’s been difficult for her in the last few matches not scoring but creating good chances for herself, and today she managed to put the ball in the back of the net. That will give her the world of confidence going forward.
“This group has belief and we’ve got on the wrong end of results but I thought our recent performances have been relatively good in terms of what we are trying to do.
“This type of result and performance was coming. I’m glad it happened today and it will create confidence.”
- 14CooperBooked at 45mins
- 9EikelandSubstituted forHarriesat 45′minutes
West Ham Women
- 5FlahertyBooked at 72mins
- 2Redisch KvammeSubstituted forPachecoat 77′minutes
- 12LonghurstBooked at 89minsSubstituted forDentonat 90+2′minutes
- 25van Egmond
- 9ThomasSubstituted forMustafaat 81′minutes
Match ends, Reading Women 0, West Ham United Women 5.
Second Half ends, Reading Women 0, West Ham United Women 5.
Corner, West Ham United Women. Conceded by Angharad James.
Lily Woodham (Reading Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Nor Mustafa (West Ham United Women).
Offside, West Ham United Women. Katerina Svitková tries a through ball, but Kenza Dali is caught offside.
Substitution, West Ham United Women. Anouk Denton replaces Kate Longhurst.
Foul by Angharad James (Reading Women).
Emily van Egmond (West Ham United Women) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Kate Longhurst (West Ham United Women) is shown the yellow card for hand ball.
Hand ball by Kate Longhurst (West Ham United Women).
Fara Williams (Reading Women) hits the bar with a right footed shot from outside the box from a direct free kick.
Fara Williams (Reading Women) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Kate Longhurst (West Ham United Women).
Danielle Carter (Reading Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Katerina Svitková (West Ham United Women).
Attempt saved. Emily van Egmond (West Ham United Women) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Kenza Dali.
Foul by Emma Harries (Reading Women).
Gilly Flaherty (West Ham United Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt saved. Nor Mustafa (West Ham United Women) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner.