Stokes stunner ensures derby draw

West Ham United reserves 2-2 Arsenal reserves

Jordan Spence and Tony Stokes were both on target to earn West Ham United a well-deserved point against an impressive Arsenal at the Boleyn Ground tonight.

All four goals came in the second half, Spence equalising eight minutes after the Gunners had taken the lead through Nacer Barazite. Mark Randall then put the visitors back in front, before substitute Stokes struck a tremendous equaliser in the closing stages to secure the draw. A fairly even first half saw the two teams all square at half-time and despite going behind, West Ham United fought back well in what was a third London derby unbeaten in a row for Kevin Keen's men.

The home side started brightly against an equally young but strong Gunners lineup - six of whom had been in the squad that won 3-0 at Sheffield United in a Carling Cup tie last week. Nigel Quashie was quick to use his experience early on, helping his team-mates to try and create a hold in midfield. The first real chance of the half though fell to Arsenal's Kieran Gibbs, who made a good run down the flank before shooting over the bar.

Kyel Reid then sent over a good cross which was met by Jack Collison who found Lee Hales in space only for his header to also land over the crossbar. Seconds later, Reid himself made another good run getting away from his marker, but could only shoot wide. He then went close with a free-kick.

Arsenal were looking to get the ball forward quickly to Barazite, who was trying to make runs down the right-hand side, and the playmaker Fran Merida, but the defensive partnership of James Tomkins and Spence was standing firm. The England youth internationals were encouraged constantly by Jimmy Walker in goal behind them and were to enjoy a fine evening.

The home side were bright going forward as well, with a notable opportunity coming just after the half hour. The ball was headed on by Tomkins again but Collison, who had just missed out with a header from Reid's whipped ball in, was not able to get there in time and Arsenal keeper Vito Mannone was able to gather.

Four minutes of stoppage time were added on in the half - resulting from Arsenal having to take off an injured Henri Lansbury and replace him with Randall, who was making his first appearance in a Gunners shirt since mid-September. There was still time though for Reid to play a short-corner into the box, which was cleared, before being brought down soon after to earn his side a free-kick. After a scramble, Reid's cross was eventually met by Zavon Hines who could only strike the ball over from four yards out.

The quality in both teams began to show after the interval and it was the visitors who broke the deadlock on 50 minutes, as Barazite hit a fierce shot past Walker and into the net. The home side set about responding straight away, defender Ashley Miller suddenly got forward down the right and hit an angled shot that Mannone managed to save. Tomkins then headed wide from a Reid corner.

But West Ham United were rewarded for their efforts on 58 minutes as they grabbed a deserved equaliser through Spence. A good move involving Quashie and Tomkins, saw the latter head down for his defensive colleague to tuck the ball beyond Mannone. Keen made a change just after the hour mark, bringing on Stokes in place of the busy Reid and soon after, Walker was forced to make a save, diving right across his goal to clear.

Collison then had two close chances to put his team ahead, but it was the Gunners who got their noses back in front. Barazite crossed and Randall's run and shot went flying into the back of the net. Yet, the hosts were not to be denied and they were to equalise for a second time with the goal of the night.

With time running out, substitute Stokes met Joe Widdowson's fine cross and struck a volley sweetly into the net, giving Mannone no chance in the process. A hard-working Quashie made way late on for Ben Hunt as Keen's men saw out the closing stages to earn a deserved draw against visitors who were a constant threat all evening.

West Ham United: Jimmy Walker, Ashley Miller, Joe Widdowson, Jordan Spence, James Tomkins, Lee Hales, Jack Collison (c), Nigel Quashie (Ben Hunt 88), Jack Jeffrey, Zavon Hines, Kyel Reid (Tony Stokes 68).
Subs not used: Bondz 'Gala, Ryan O'Neill, Robbie Blackwell

Arsenal: Vito Mannone, Gavin Hoyte (c), Paul Rodgers (Tom Cruise 76), Rene Steer (Rui Fonte 65), Abu Ogogo, Kieran Gibbs, James Dunne, Henri Lansbury (Mark Randall 24), Fran Merida, Nacer Barazite, Vincent van den Berg
Subs not used: Wojciech Szczesny, Luke Ayling