Reserves Held By Gunners

West Ham United's reserves battled to a hard-fought 2-2 draw against London rivals Arsenal in their opening game of the new FA Premier Reserve League South campaign on Wednesday night.

Goals from young French striker Youssef Sofiane and defender Glen Johnson either side of the interval earned Hammers a highly respectable point against a strong Gunners side containing the likes of £9m striker Francis Jeffers, England under-21 stars Jermaine Pennant and Matthew Upson and highly-rated young goalkeeper Stuart Taylor.

Roger Cross' team got off to a flyer when Sofiane opened the scoring after just eight minutes, skipping on to Anton Ferdinand's excellent pass and finishing confidently from just inside the penalty area.

Moments later, Jeffers had a goal disallowed for a foul on Minto, but the visitors were slowly making their mark on proceedings and Greek defender Tavlaridis should have levelled the scores after 27 minutes, but blasted his effort over the bar from just six yards out.

However, just seconds later the equaliser arrived. Good work from Pennant culminated in a defence-splitting pass that released French striker Jeremie Alladiere, who slotted the ball past Van der Gouw from 10 yards out.

The Dutch keeper then had to be at his best 10 minutes later to keep out a Jeffers effort after another excellent pass from Pennant, while at the other end, a fantastic one-handed save from Taylor denied Courtois a certain goal after Camara had created a glorious chance for the Frenchman.

With youngster Billy Mehmet on as a half-time replacement for goalscorer Sofiane, Hammers started the second half the livelier of the two sides and both Courtois and Camara were sent clear through on goal, only to see their efforts blocked by Taylor.

However, it was the Gunners who took the lead against the run of play in the 60th minute, when a deflection fell kindly in the penalty area for Pennant, who fired the ball past Van der Gouw from an acute angle.

Despite that misfortune, Hammers fought back bravely and, just 14 minutes later, claimed a deserved equaliser when a dangerous free-kick from Courtois was superbly volleyed in by Johnson from 12 yards out.

Arsenal substitute Paulinho saw a late free-kick ruled out after Jeffers was adjudged to be in an offside position, while Van der Gouw made a smart save at his near post from Bentley in the closing minutes.

That was the last real slice of action in an entertaining and lively encounter at Dagenham and Redbridge's Victoria Ground, just days before the real action takes place at Upton Park, when the two clubs meet in our first Premiership home game of the season.

West Ham (4-4-2): Van der Gouw; Ferdinand, Johnson, Minto, Labant; Courtois, Britton, Garcia, McMahon; Sofiane (Mehmet 45), Camara (Allen 74). Subs unused: Forde, Ward, Khan.

Arsenal (4-4-2): Taylor; Bailey, Tavlaridis, Upson, Juan; Pennant (Paulinho 78), Sidwell, Bentley, Garry; Jeffers, Alladiere (Hoyte 66).