Ashton earns draw at Orient

Dean Ashton scored his first goal for West Ham United in almost a year as Hammers were held to a 1-1 friendly draw by Leyton Orient on Tuesday evening.

The 23-year-old striker produced a stunning long-range effort after 15 minutes to give his team the lead, and manager Alan Curbishley will have been even more pleased to see Ashton come through the full 90 minutes, looking strong and fit throughout.

In a testimonial match for Orient manager Martin Ling, Hammers made a sharp start, and almost opened the scoring through Carlton Cole in the 10th minute, before Ashton produced his piece of magic five minutes later.

However, the hosts hit back almost immediately with a wonder-strike of their own, as striker Adam Boyd sent a dipping 25-yard volley over Rob Green to bring the scores level.

Five minutes before the break, Green had to be a alert to deny Wayne Gray in the penalty area, while the visitors made the brighter start to the second half, with Calum Davenport and Anton Ferdinand forcing good saves out of substitute goalkeeper Stuart Nelson.

As the game wore on, Hammers' superior fitness levels - exemplified by the tireless Matty Etherington - began to tell, and only a mixture of good goalkeeping and misfortune prevented a winner.

First Etherington cut the ball across for Ashton, who had to re-adjust his body and only managed to direct a header over the bar from four yards out, then the winger again crossed for Lee Bowyer, whose diving header was kept out by Nelson.

As part of Curbs's plan to give his senior players their first 90 minutes of the pre-season campaign, only one substitute was made - Tony Stokes replacing fellow youngster Kyel Reid - and a completely different Hammers side will line-up against MK Dons tomorrow evening, with new signing Fredrik Ljungberg expected to make his debut. 

Minute by minute:

10 - Cole fires a blistering shot just inches over the bar from 12 yards out.

15 - GOAL! The moment Hammers fans have been waiting for, as Ashton picks up the ball 30 yards out before sending a fierce, swerving, unstoppable shot beyond the stranded Morris for his first goal in a Hammers shirt for almost a year. Leyton Orient 0 West Ham United 1.

18 - Boyd fires narrowly wide from the edge of the penalty area.

19 - An excellent cross from McCartney is missed by Cole but falls to Reid, who fires his effort high over the bar.

20 - GOAL. Orient reply with a stunning goal of their own to equalise, as Boyd sends a 25-yard dipping volley over the head of Green. Leyton Orient 1 West Ham United 1.

28 - Orient keeper Morris suffers a head injury in an aerial collision and is replaced by substitute Nelson.

41 - Green rushes out bravely to deny Gray from close range.

Half-time: Leyton Orient 1 West Ham United 1.

46 - Leyton Orient substitutes: Saah on for Thelwell, Thornton on for Terry, Demetriou on for Melligan.

50 - Davenport's looping header from 12 yards out is tipped over by Nelson.

51 - From the resulting corner, Ferdinand's header is this time held by the Orient keeper.

58 - Reid cuts in from the right and fires a fierce shot just over the bar.

64 - Leyton Orient substitute: Echanomi on for Boyd.

70 - West Ham United substitute: Stokes on for Reid.

72 - Etherington escapes on the left and cuts the ball back for Ashton, who somehow heads over the bar from just four yards out.

74 - This time Etherington crosses for Bowyer, whose diving header is kept out by Nelson.

78 - Leyton Orient substitute: B Gray on for W Gray.

82 - Leyton Orient substitute: Page on for Corden.

84 - A neat move leads to Bowyer breaking free in the box, but his delicate chip is gathered by Nelson.

86 - Leyton Orient substitute: Kemp on for Palmer.

90 - Leyton Orient substitute: Grange on for Chambers.

90 - Ashton sends a looping left-foot shot just wide of the target.

Full-time: Leyton Orient 1 West Ham United 1.

Leyton Orient: Morris (Nelson 28), Purches, Palmer (Kemp 86), Thelwell (Saah 46), Mkandawire, Terry (Thornton 46), Melligan (Demetriou 46), Chambers (Grange 90), W Gray (B Gray 78), Boyd (Echanomi 64), Corden (Page 82).

West Ham United: Green; Pantsil, Davenport, Ferdinand, McCartney; Reid (Stokes 70), Bowyer, Mullins, Etherington; Ashton, Cole. Subs unused: Stech, Fitzgerald, Ephraim, Widdowson, Hales, Jeffery, Collison, Dailly.

Referee: Ray Lee (Essex)

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