Dagenham & Redbridge v West Ham United XI
Liam Manning hailed West Ham United U23s 2-1 victory over Dagenham and Redbridge as the “best performance” of their pre-season so far.
The Hammers were much the better side throughout the contest at the Chigwell Construction Stadium and went ahead in the first half after Jahmal Hector-Ingram finished well from a Joe Powell through ball.
The Daggers undeservedly equalised with ten minutes to play through a Mason Bloomfield penalty before the visitors got what they deserved via a neat finish by Dan Kemp in the final few minutes.
“We set the boys a challenge of playing to our philosophy, which we didn’t think we’d done too well in the first two [pre-season] games,” said the U23s assistant manager.
“Today, there was a bigger emphasis in playing how we want to play and I thought the lads did that really well. I think we’ve seen a progression over the three games.”
Terry Westley welcomed Powell, Anthony Scully, Reece Hannam and Korrey Henry to the starting eleven and the Hammers boss almost had reason to cheer in the opening seconds - Hector-Ingram managed to break clear and was eventually bundled over in the penalty area but the referee waved the strong appeals away.
The visitors then began to dominate possession without threatening Mark Cousins’ goal. But despite not having as much of the ball, the Daggers were still dangerous with Corey Whitely and Oliver Hawkins testing Joseph Anang.
On 31 minutes, Westley’s men should have been ahead. Grady Diangana had been a menace for the home defence to deal with and he drew a top save from Cousins as the ball looked to be heading for the top corner.
With the rain beginning to fall in Dagenham, the Hammers seized the initiative on 37 minutes and a combination, which was so devastating for the U18s last season, provided the source. Powell picked his head up and spotted Hector-Ingram making a clever run across the face of the Daggers defence. The No9 slotted the ball past Cousins to make it 1-0.
Anang was forced into action twice before half-time but the Hammers went into the interval fully worth their advantage.
The visiting front four of Diangana, Hector-Ingram, Powell and Anthony Scully were proving too hot to handle for the Daggers defence and their link-up play almost led to a second on 54 minutes. Diangana slid the ball through to Hector-Ingram who forced a smart save from sub goalkeeper Elliot Justham.
Westley’s players were brimming with confidence and went close again on 64 minutes. Diangana was his usual box of tricks and managed to dig out a cross for Scully, whose header was scrambled away by Justham with Ajibola Alese on the goalline ready to tap in the rebound.
Dagenham rarely threatened in the second half but were awarded a penalty with just over ten minutes to play, much to the frustration of the West Ham bench. Tunji Akinola was adjudged to have fouled Bloomfield in the box and the substitute duly stepped up to send Anang the wrong way from the spot.
But the Hammers got their just rewards with minutes to play. Kemp had been a constant threat out wide since coming on and he was played in by fellow substitute Bernardo Rosa. The England youth international made no mistake, finding the bottom corner to give the travelling fans behind the goal cause for celebration.
“It was a really good lesson for the boys, particularly Ajibola and Tunji at the back who came up against a realy handful up top,” Manning continued.
“Korrey Henry and Scully played with real discipline in the midfield and I think Grady [Diangana] deserves a mention. He was brilliant and played with real pace. Dagenham couldn’t handle him.”
Dag & Red: Cousins (Justham, 46), Pennell (Hyde, 73), Robson (c), Robinson (Gordon, 82), Hawkins (Wheeler, 61), Ferrier (Bloomfield, 73), Okenabirhie (Mongoy, 82), N’Gala, Boucaud, Ling (Howells, 61), Whitely (Cheek, 61)
Subs not used: White
Goals: Bloomfield (pen)
West Ham: Anang; Pike (c) (Ngakia, 85), Akinola, Alese (Wells, 76), Hannam; Powell (Kemp, 61), Coventry, Henry, Diangana; Hector-Ingram (Gordon, 61), Scully (Rosa, 70)
Subs not used: McCorkell
Goals: Hector-Ingram, Kemp