Grays Athletic 2-1 West Ham United XI
It is now five goals in five matches for Zavon Hines who scored a first-half penalty but could not prevent a youthful West Ham United narrowly losing to Conference outfit Grays Athletic on Saturday afternoon.
Hines, who has struck three match-winning penalties plus two goals from open play in pre-season friendlies this summer, was on target again as Kevin Keen's side visited the Recreation Ground but Grays responded well through Ishamel Welsh and Charlie Ide. The match, watched by a 1,372-strong crowd, marked a return to action for the first time since 9 February for Lee Bowyer, who has been out with a groin injury. Matthew Etherington also made his first appearance after suffering with blisters since the MLS All-Star Game and Jack Collison was captain, partnering Bowyer, in central midfield.
Icelandic central defender Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson was making his third appearance for West Ham United after performances at Thurrock and Cambridge United. Also in the visiting lineup was Michalis Konstantinou, a Cypriot international striker who is out of contract and has been training at Chadwell Heath. The 30-year-old has proven Champions League experience with Panathinaikos and Olympiakos in Greece and is the latest player to be assessed after being identified by the club's extensive scouting network
The home side featured Welsh, a former Academy trainee who spent time at the Boleyn Ground between 2005 and 2006. It was Grays who had the first real shot of the game, Jamie Taylor getting into space only to see his shot go wide. At the other end, Hines showed some good skill to evade his markers and ran towards goal before the resulting effort was blocked.
The young striker appeared to be fouled in the box but the referee waved away any appeals. That came on 37th minutes but, two minutes later, Hines was again able to make his mark when he was once more brought down, this time by John Ashton. The 19-year-old brushed himself off and sent a confident strike into the back of the net to put West Ham United in front.
Bowyer and Etherington were linking up well, with the latter firing an angled shot which forced Grays keeper Steve Arnold to save well. But it was all-square a minute before half-time when Welsh picked up a good Ide pass and slotted the ball in. At the start of the second half, Keen made his first change replacing Konstantinou with Tony Stokes. Etherington also came off for Junior Stanislas on 54 minutes before Bowyer made way for Joe Widdowson in the 67th minute.
On 75 minutes, Tom Harvey and Ryan O'Neill replaced Eyjolfsson and Collison. Hines nearly grabbed his second of the match on 83 minutes only to shoot straight at the keeper but, right at the death, Ide made it 2-1 to the home side when he slid in to score from a rebounded shot. Despite the scoreline, it was another valuable work-out which saw two more first-team players get vital match fitness and Hines give further food for thought to the coaching staff.
West Ham United: Street, Spence, Eyjolfsson (Harvey 75), N'Gala, Miller, Jeffery, Bowyer (Widdowson 67), Collison (O'Neill 75), Etherington (Stanislas 54), Konstantinou (Stokes 46), Hines
Subs: Miklosko, Edgar