West Ham United
West Ham United

Sean Adarkwa 10

Amadou Diallo 113

Mesaque Dju 119

Cambridge United
Cambridge United

Liam O'Neil 11

Ben Worman 50

Wednesday 02 Sep
Updated Wednesday 02 Sep 17:07

West Ham United U23 v Cambridge United

West Ham United U23s began their pre-season programme with an enthralling 3-2 win against Cambridge United at Little Heath on Friday afternoon.

Goals from Sean Adarkwa, Amadou Diallo and Mesaque Dju were enough to see Dmitri Halajko’s side past their League 2 opponents.

Returning loanees Dan Kemp, Nathan Trott and Ajibola Alese were among those who lined up for the Hammers.

In a bespoke format for the game, both teams played four 30-minute quarters in the Irons' first outing since March, guaranteeing as many minutes as possible for the players ahead of the new league campaign.

Cambridge United had the first real chance of the game after just five minutes, A backpass was played to Nathan Trott but, under pressure, the keeper could only cannon the ball against the advancing Cambridge forward, but the ball flew over the bar.

The U23s settled better in the early exchanges and enjoyed lengthy spells of possession in their first match of their pre-season programme.

The Hammers were able to make the pressure tell in the tenth minute; a positive passing move saw Louie Watson pick up the ball in space. The midfielder played a sublime first-time ball through the Cambridge defence, leaving Sean Adarkwa one-on-one, and the forward made no mistake, rolling past Burton to give the U23s the lead.

The lead lasted barely two minutes however, when a clipped Cambridge corner wasn’t dealt with decisively and Liam O’Neil headed calmly past Trott to level the scores.

Despite conceding an equaliser so quickly after going in front, the Hammers continued to control the flow of the game at a blustery Little Heath.

The home side continued their bright start in the second quarter, and Adarkwa was unlucky not have his second of the game soon after the restart when the 21-year-old's strong effort was palmed away by Burton in the U’s goal.

Moments later, at the other end, Trott was called into action for the first time. Paul Mullin twisted into the West Ham box, but his low angled drive was palmed onto the post by the Bermuda-born stopper, who collected the rebound.

The visitors seized the momentum in the second quarter, committing more bodies forward and dominating the ball. It wasn’t long before the U's managed to turn that possession into a second goal. 

A quick passing move in midfield saw Ben Worman surge through into the final third. The midfielder rode the challenge of Will Greenidge and fired into the net to give Cambridge United the lead for the first time on 50 minutes.

The visitors could have been further ahead not long after when Emmanuel Longelo was adjudged to have handled the ball from a Cambridge cross. Mullin stepped up, but the former Swindon Town forward’s spot kick was spectacularly saved by Trott low down to his left.

The young Hammers showed good resolve to weather the onslaught of Cambridge attacks, but they failed to force an opening of their own as the second period drew to a close.

Dan Kemp

Both the U23s and Cambridge were much-changed when play resumed for the third quarter. Young wingers Amadou Diallo and Jayden Fevrier were among those introduced by Halajko as the young Irons sought out an equaliser.

West Ham nearly found it when Afolayan slipped in Dan Kemp down the right-hand side. The winger unselfishly squared the ball back to the oncoming Fevrier, but the 19-year old could only hit the post with his first-time effort.

Cambridge had another chance to extend their lead at the beginning of the final quarter when a lofted free kick found Sam Smith unmarked, but Krisztian Hegyi was equal to it in the Hammers' goal and pushed it round the post.

Lead coach Dmitri Halajko would have been pleased with the performance of a less-experienced XI as the game edged towards its conclusion. A number of a second-year scholars equipped themselves well against the Football League opposition.

West Ham were back on terms in the 113th minute. A swift counter-attack saw Forson released by Odubeko. The youngster flashed a shot at the Cambridge 'keeper, who could only parry out to the feet of Diallo, the forward finishing emphatically.

The U23s weren’t finished there, however, as Mesaque Dju reacted quickest to a lofted ball over the top. The Portuguese winger took his time, picked his spot and finished well to snatch victory late on.

In time added on, Sam Smith spurned a one-on-one for Cambridge, but West Ham held on to record a deserved victory in their first pre-season game at Little Heath.


West Ham United U23 (First quarter - 30 mins): Trott, Greenidge, Ashby, Alese, Longelo, Trialist, Watson, Afolayan, Kemp, Adarkwa, Dju

West Ham United U23 (Second quarter – 60 mins): Trott, Ashby, Greenidge, Alese, Longelo, Forson, Afolayan, Watson, Kemp, Adarkwa, Dju

West Ham United U23 (Third quarter – 90 mins): Trott (Hegyi 89), Forson, Okotcha, Alese, Fevrier, Afolayan, Chesters, Kemp, Odubeko, Diallo

West Ham United U23 (Fourth quarter – 120 mins): Hegyi, Forson, Okotcha, Adebayo, Fevrier, Swyer, Trialist, Chesters, Dju, Odubeko, Diallo

Goals: Adarkwa 10, Diallo 113, Dju 119

Cambridge United (First half – 60 mins): Burton (Mitov 52), Knoyle , Taylor, Dickens, Dunk, Knowles, O’Neil (Wormon 23) , Simper, Hoolahan, Mullin, Knibbs

Cambridge United (Second half – 120mins): Mitov, Davies, Cundy, Coker, Jones, Neal, Digby, Worman, Hannant, Smith, Dallas

Goals: O’Neil 11, Worman 50