West Ham United reserves 4-1 Birmingham City reserves
Bobby Zamora scored a hat-trick as West Ham United came from behind to record an emphatic victory at the Boleyn Ground on Tuesday night.
Having notched a goal in a friendly game against Queen's Park Rangers last week, Zamora showed he is getting back towards full fitness with a finely-taken treble in an all-action performance over 90 minutes. All three goals came in the final half-hour of the contest after reserve-team captain Jack Collison had cancelled out Stefan Milojevic's opener just before half-time.
Kevin Keen had a strong squad to choose from, with Jimmy Walker in goal, Jonathan Spector at left-back and Julien Faubert on the right-side of midfield. It was Zamora who had most of the attention however, on his first proper outing since a Carling Cup game away to Bristol Rovers on 28 August. Birmingham also had five first-teamers on view - including Dutch U21 attacker Daniel De Ridder and Argentinian sensation Mauro Zarate.
The first half was a cagey affair on a bitterly cold evening, with Zamora showing up well alongside young forward Zavon Hines. It was Birmingham who had the early efforts, however, with both De Ridder and Zarate testing Walker early on. In the 14th minute, inventive play from Zamora saw Faubert cut in from the right only to be denied by a last-ditch block as he made inroads.
The home side's first real effort came on 18 minutes when Spector found himself unmarked in the centre of goal, only for his header to go straight at Colin Doyle. It was the 26th minute before Zamora first tried his luck. His dipping half-volley from 30 yards had the crowd willing it goalwards but it sailed just past Doyle's left-hand post at the last moment.
Both teams continued to press forward with Zarate and Zamora the focal points for their respective sides. That said, Birmingham's best chance of the half came from the unlikely source of defender Jared Wilson, who had nipped in behind the Hammers defence. His shot was saved well by Walker although the resulting corner was to prove costly. From it, Milojevic was allowed to head goalwards and his effort crashed against the post and beyond Walker, who had little chance from close range.
Collison soon drew the hosts level two minutes before half-time. A sweeping move involving Zamora and Faubert finished with the France winger sliding in Collison to fire low under Doyle's body from a tight angle. With Hines off for Junior Stanislas in the second half, it was all West Ham United from then on with Keen switching the formation to a 4-5-1 that featured Zamora in the lone striker's role.
First, Faubert hit the post after Stanislas saw virtually his first touch force a great save from Doyle. Then Collison headed over from right-back Jordan Spence's fine cross. After that James Tomkins, impressive alongside Bondz 'Gala, tried his luck with a header and then Spector tricked his way into the penalty area and unleashed a shot that was blocked at the last moment. A second goal was coming and, in the 58th minute, Zamora did well to hold off two defenders before swivelling on the spot and firing firmly beyond Doyle.
He had his second seven minutes later, thanks to Faubert's second assist of the night. The 24-year-old sped along the right and sent in a whipped cross to the near post that Zamora flicked with great skill beyond Doyle. Aside from an 82nd-minute rasping shot from Schmitz, the home team were able to defend with relative comfort after taking the two-goal initiative but the crowd were willing Zamora to get his hat-trick.
It duly came in added time. Faubert, who was outstanding along with captain Collison, made it a hat-trick of assists with another superb cross from the right. This time he lofted it for Zamora to rise and power a header beyond the despairing Doyle. His third goal earned the biggest cheer of the night and suggested that the fans' favourite is not too far away from a first-team return.
West Ham United: Jimmy Walker, Jordan Spence, James Tomkins, Bondz 'Gala, Jonathan Spector, Julien Faubert, Tony Stokes, Jack Collison, Kyel Reid, Bobby Zamora, Zavon Hines (Junior Stanislas 46, Lee Hales 82)
Subs (from): Adam Street, Lorcan Fitzgerald, Freddie Sears, Jack Jeffery
Birmingham City: Colin Doyle, Stuart Parnaby, David Joyce, Rafael Schmitz, Jared Wilson, Jordon Mutch, Daniel De Ridder, Mitchell McPike, Stefan Milojevic (James O'Brien 67), Mauro Zarate, Semih Aydilek (Jake Jarvis 77)
Subs: Dean Lyness, Sean Hunt, Jacob Rowe
Click here for the official team sheet.