West Ham United's under-18 team returned to Academy League action in emphatic style on Saturday morning, beating Ipswich Town 6-1 at Little Heath.
Two goals from Hogan Ephraim and one each for Liam White, Danny Cowley, Zavon Hines and Jack Jeffrey secured victory for Tony Carr's side in their first match after the mid-season Academy break, but it was a scoreline that owed much to the remarkable events of the opening 15 minutes, as the visitors lost their goalkeeper and went down to 10 men.
Hammers had already taken a seventh minute lead through White, and were dominating proceedings when Ephraim raced clean through just five minutes later, only to be pulled down by the Ipswich keeper as he was about to net. The referee was left with no alternative but to produce a red card and, with no reserve on the bench, Ipswich were forced to put an outfield player between the sticks.
Ephraim duly despatched the resulting penalty kick to make it 2-0, and Cowley added a third just before the break.
Ipswich roused themselves for the start of the second half and managed to grab a goal back, but Ephraim restored the three-goal advantage soon after when he netted direct from a corner-kick.
As the extra-man advantage began to show in the later stages, Hammers added a fifth when Hines headed home, and substitute Jeffrey rounded off the scoring with a neat finish late on.
Tony Carr said afterwards: "It was obviously a good result for us but, in all honesty, the sending-off spoilt the game and made it a non-contest. The penalty made it 2-0 and, even against 11 men, I think that would have killed them off.
"Because of that, there wasn't much we could take from the performance, and things got a bit sloppy in the second half, but on the other hand we scored six goals, and you can't do any more than that.
"It was good to get back in the swing of things after the Christmas break, and the players got a good work-out that will help their fitness and hopefully set us up nicely for the second part of the season."
West Ham United: Behcet; Henry (Widdowson), Andrews, White, Tomkins; Hales, Collison, Cowley (Jeffrey), Hines; Ephraim, Reid (Davidson). Sub unused: Blackmore