West Ham United reserves 2-0 Portsmouth reserves
Gianfranco Zola will have been delighted with a professional reserve-team victory on Tuesday night that saw David Di Michele and Kyel Reid on target and solid displays by the returning James Tomkins and Diego Tristan.
At a freezing Boleyn Ground, a team containing ten players with senior professional experience swept aside a Portsmouth side that also had several notable names in their ranks including Lauren, Djimi Traore, Ben Sahar and David Nugent. Di Michele and Reid struck sublime first-half strikes to ensure the reserves made it three home wins in three, and reaffirmed the feelgood factor created by the first team's away win at Sunderland and the progress in training of Jonathan Spector, Mark Noble and Kieron Dyer.
The game sparked to life when Di Michele finished a slick move involving the three forwards Alex Dyer had deployed in his 4-3-3 formation just before the quarter of an hour mark. Reid won the ball on the left and fed Tristan, making his second appearance for the club at this level. His low ball into the area was expertly dummied by Freddie Sears before Di Michele dispatched it left-footed into the top-left hand corner.
It was two 16 minutes later as a corner from Luis Boa Morte was half cleared to the edge of the area where Reid smashed it into the top corner. It was a superb strike that was no less than the 20-year-old midfielder deserved after an impressive opening half hour.
The hosts were dominant and a strikforce offering strength, guile and speed was causing the visitors from the south cost endless problems.. Tristan had the audacity and ambition to try his luck from the halfway line and Di Michele had several other half-chances to add to his tally. Only a last-ditch tackle from Malian international Traore denied the Italy striker when well placed and, a short while after, he almost converted a good assist by Sears.
It was not just at the front that the hosts were showing composure; Calum Davenport and Tomkins - who has missed out this season with a medial knee ligament injury suffered back in July on England Under-19 duty - were marshalling the backline well, eagerly supported by Walter Lopez and Northern Irish youngster Ryan O'Neill. The latter was the only home player in the starting eleven yet to play first-team football in his career. Boa Morte was demonstrating his strength too by winning several tough tackles in midfield.
Peter Gregory came on for Lauren at the break as Portsmouth tried to change things but Tristan soon went close to making it three. His turn and shot was saved by Asmir Begovic in the away goal. Sahar then left the field for Mark Smith before Tomkins once more showed how alert he was to block a shot from Tom Kilbey. It was then Lastuvka who had to be on his toes with 20 minutes to go as he beat away a drive from Pablo Navas, who soon made way for Calum Reynolds.
Dyer made two late changes by bringing on Junior Stanislas and Tom Harvey for the tireless Boa Morte and Tristan, who will both particularly hope to be in contention for the first team's trip to Liverpool on Monday night. More chances were to fall the Hammers' way - particularly for Sears - but there was to be no more scoring.
West Ham United: Lastuvka, O'Neill, Davenport, Tomkins, Lopez, Stokes, Boa Morte (Harvey 88), Reid, Di Michele, Tristan (Stanislas 82), Sears
Subs not used: Loveday, Widdowson, Bajner
Portsmouth: Begovic, Lauren (Gregory 45), Blackman, Duffy, Traore, Pack, Nlundulu, Kilbey, Nugent, Sahar (Smith 60), Navas (Reynolds 74)
Subs not used: Stewart, Mantyla
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