Hammers Go Close Against Addicks

HAMMERS Reserves have lost 1-0 to London rivals Charlton Athletic at Dagenham and Redbridge's Glyn Hopkin Stadium, despite putting on a determined display against the Premiership Reserve League South leaders.

In a closely fought first-half neither side was able to establish any real dominance.

Kevin Keen's men went close twice in the opening three minutes, though, with Tony Stokes and Tommy Laws both shooting wide from difficult positions.

Addicks defender Mark Ricketts saw a header drift narrowly off target, before Moses Ashikodi broke away for the Hammers and forced a save out of Charlton goalkeeper Stephen Andersen.

The visitors grew in stature as the half progressed and signalled their intention with a fine move on 25 minutes. Alex Varney was released by a neat touch from James Walker, but could only fire wide with from 10 yards out.

With half-time fast approaching recalled Hammers defender Tommy Laws had to make a magnificent double block to keep Charlton out. First he scrambled Walker's header off the goal-line, before recovering his balance to make a magnificent block from Varney's thumping shot to send the team's in level at the break.

HT: 0-0

Charlton began the second-half making purposeful strides into the Hammers half. It wasn't long before they tested debutant goalkeeper Dusan Kuciak, the Slovakian gathering comfortably from Lloyd Sam's shot.

But just five minutes later Sam had Kuciak beaten with a scorching drive that cannoned off the underside of the bar, before being scrambled clear by the Hammers defence.

West Ham's stoical resistance was finally broken on 55 minutes. Sam was involved again, weaving in from the right and crossing low for Alistair John to stab the ball home from close range.

The goal was a cruel blow to the Hammers rearguard, in particular Laws and Elliott Ward, who were excellent in repelling the Charlton attack.

But Kevin Keen's men did not give up without a fight and very nearly equalised on 73 minutes. Oliver Allen swung over a magnificent cross from the right and Stokes met the ball on the volley from point blank range, only to see it balloon agonisingly over the bar.

Less than 10 minutes later, Greg Pearson sent a thunderous half-volley whistling over the Charlton crossbar, but you just got the feeling that it wasn't going to be West Ham's night.

That theory was confirmed with the very last kick of the game. Rufus Brevett whipped in a free-kick from the left and the ball dropped to Ashikodi inside the penalty area. The striker struck his shot sweetly and was just about to wheel away in celebration when it rebounded back off the post and rolled away to safety.

Kevin Keen said afterwards: "It was a very close game between two evenly matched teams.

"They had one really good chance in the second-half and scored from it, but we just couldn't find our little bit of magic to equalise.

"We had two great chances in the second-half, and I think we deserved a draw, but sadly it wasn't to be. We did quite well against the League leaders tonight, though, and just needed a bit more guile in the final third to open them up.

"Steve Lomas came through 75 minutes without any problems, while our goalkeeper Dusan Kuciak also did well in his first game for the Club."

WHU: Kuciak; McClenahan, Brevett, Laws, Ward, Lomas (Welsh 76), Allen, Wright, Ashikodi, Stokes, Pearson. Subs Unused: White, Reed (GK), Reid, Andrews.