TONY Carr's young Hammers secured their place in the Fourth Round of the FA Youth Cup with a 2-1 win over Luton Town at Upton Park.
James Tomkins gave West Ham United a 1-0 lead at half-time, which was doubled by substitute Jack Jeffery after the break. But Luton fought hard and pulled a goal back to make it a nervy final 10 minutes for the Hammers.
First Year scholar Tomkins, who played in the FA Youth Cup as a schoolboy last season, was named captain of the Hammers as Tony Carr included seven Second Year players in his team.
Hammers were quickly into their stride, Hogan Ephraim running at the Luton defence within the first minute only to pull his shot wide of the goal.
Ephraim was clearly West Ham's danger man in the opening stages, weaving through the Luton defence as though they weren't there until his shot was blocked by the outstretched leg of Mark Farthing.
Hammers were dominating without really threatening the Luton goal, while the visitors stamped their authority with a hard-working display in midfield that was being well-matched by West Ham's midfield duo of Lee Hales and David Cowley.
But on 32 minutes Hammers got the breakthrough their hard work deserved. Out on the right Ishmael Welsh's quick-feet worked an opening to cross and his delivery found the head of James Tomkins at the back post, who headed down past Zach Barrett to give West Ham a 1-0 lead.
At the other end, Eren Kemal had little to do, his first real moment of activity a looping header from a deep cross that he claimed with ease.
On 36 minutes the goalscorer took a whack in the face for his trouble after a strong challenge from Rob Sinclair, which earned the Luton midfielder a booking.
With five minutes to go until half-time Ephraim broke through the Luton back-line again, but his low shot was saved by the legs of Barrett to send Hammers in with a slender 1-0 lead at the break.
There were no changes for the start of the second-half, and no let up in West Ham's attacking pressure.
In the 49th minute a cushioned lay-off from Zavon Hines set up Ephraim to strike a wonderful volley from the edge of the box that had Barrett beaten only to come back off the inside of the post.
Moments later Hines then saw a chance of his own go begging as he lofted the ball over the bar from close range, before a fine saving tackle from Luton defender Asafu-Adjaye prevented the Hammers striker a run on goal.
A fine jinking run by the impressive Cowley created an opening, but although his low shot was fierce Barrett was behind it all the way.
With 64 minutes played Lee Hales received a pass from Welsh and a silky drop of the shoulder lost his marker, but the midfielder fired over the bar from 12 yards out.
A minute later Tony Carr had made his first substitution bringing on Jack Jeffery in place of Ishmael Welsh, and within five minutes Jeffery had put Hammers 2-0 up.
The goal owed much to the good work of Ephraim, who ghosted past two defenders and into the box where he squared to Jeffery who slid in to tap home from close range.
Luton would not go quietly though and hit back on with 10 minutes of the game remaining when substitute Saleem Danish crossed for Richard Heller to power a header past Kemal and make it 2-1.
Suddenly it was the visitors applying the pressure and Hammers were having to stand firm at the back in the face of an onslaught from the Luton attack.
Showing a good turn of pace Heller burst past Widdowson and got in a cross that Kemal did well to palm away from the feet of Danish, before Ryan Charles sent a long-range shot dipping just over Kemal's crossbar.
Hammers held on though to secure their passage to the Fourth Round of the FA Youth Cup, with a 2-1 win over Luton Town.
WHU: Kemal; Andrews, White, Tomkins, Widdowson, Reid (Davidson 85), Hales, Cowley, Ephraim, Hines (Collison 75), Welsh (Jeffery 65). Subs unused: Blackmore (GK), Spence.
Scorers: Tomkins 32, Jeffery 65
LUTON: Barrett; Selby, Asafu-Adjaye, Farthing (Danish 72), Green, Maitland, Heller, Sinclair (Hanley 77), Kenneford (Preston 90), Charles, Sinclair. Subs unused: Sillitoe (GK), Richardson.
Scorer: Heller 80
Booking: Sinclair 36
Hammers See Off Luton
30th November 2005