Reserves round off season with battling draw

Our reserve team finished their campaign with a creditable 2-2 draw against Chelsea on Tuesday evening.

A double strike from forward Zavon Hines cancelled out goals from Scott Sinclair and Ricardo Fernandes in either half, and secured a point for Hammers to ensure a 10th place finish in the Barclaycard Premier Reserve League South - won this season by Tottenham Hotspur.

Once again, coach Kevin Keen fielded a young side, consisting entirely of under-18 academy players and schoolboys, although Chelsea were similarly inexperienced, with their first-team in action against Blackburn Rovers tonight following their crowning as Premiership champions again at the weekend.

After a quiet and tepid start, the game burst into life just 10 minutes before the break, as Chelsea took the lead with their first real attack of any note.

A measured pass from Simmonds released winger Sinclair on the left, and he cut in before firing a low shot past David Blackmore from 10 yards out.

Just five minutes later, Hammers should have drawn level when a weak backpass let in Densal Davidson but, after rounding the goalkeeper and creating an open goal for himself, the striker somehow crashed his shot against the outside of the post.

However, the hosts didn't have to wait much longer before the equaliser did arrive, as their next attack saw schoolboy defender Tom Harvey thread the ball through for Hines, who finished well with an angled drive from 12 yards out.

That saw the two sides go in level at half-time, but Chelsea made the livelier start upon the restart, and wasted a glorious opportunity to restore their lead just eight minutes in, when midfielder Jimmy Smith fired his shot against the crossbar after finding himself in the clear.

Goalscorer Sinclair then missed a chance to claim his second of the night and, although the visitors were perhaps on top when it came to possession, Hammers continued to close down the space and make it difficult for their opponents.

With 10 minutes remaining, it looked as though the Blues would add a second, but goalkeeper David Blackmore somehow scrambled the ball to safety as Sinclair back-heeled from close range, and the same player was denied a minute later as his measured chip was tipped round the post.

On 85 minutes, Chelsea's pressure finally paid off, as substitute Fernandes collected the ball in midfield and advanced forward before unleashing a stunning 25-yard drive that gave Blackmore no chance as it flew into the top corner of the net.

However, the hosts once again showed great character to respond - this time almost immediately, as Hines chased down a lost cause and won possession before squeezing the ball inside the near post to claim his second equaliser of the night, ensuring that the young Hammers held on for a deserved point and finished a tough season on a high note.

Hammers: Blackmore; Harvey, Ngala, Henry, Widdowson; Hines, Collison, Ephraim, Stanislas (Andrews 59); Jeffery, Davidson. Subs unused: Kemal, Sears, Bowes, Hunt.