Stoke City 0-0 Reserves FT

Stoke City reserves v West Ham United reserves
Barclays Premier Reserve League South
Weaver Stadium, Nantwich Town FC
Tuesday 6 April 2010
Kick-off: 7pm


Full-time score - Stoke City reserves 0-0 West Ham United reserves

91 mins - Subuola stabs the ball away from the corner. Pugh picks it up and shoots from 30 yards, but McNaughton blocks with his head. Seconds later, the full-time whistle is blown and that's it. West Ham will be pleased with a point and a clean sheet, but they could easily have won this game. Lee, in particular, missed a couple of great chances. All in all, though, that is another positive result for the Hammers. Dyer and his players will head to Telford a week from now to take on Wolverhampton Wanderers in their final away league game before hosting Fulham in their final fixture on 27 April. Remember to keep a close eye on for exclusive reaction from tonight's game.

90 mins - Stoke win a late free-kick wide on the right. Aside from Abdulla, every West Ham player is inside the penalty area. We're into the only minute of added-time as Pugh curls the ball over and Stech turns it over his own crossbar.

89 mins - Aaargh! Edgar does absolutely brilliantly to turn away from two Stoke defenders close to the left touchline. He scampers to the edge of the box before clipping a cross to the back post. The unmarked Lee tries to sidefoot the ball past Begovic from about eight yards, but the goalkeeper makes a fine stop with his feet. Stoke eventually scramble the ball clear.

88 mins - Moult again! Payne loses possession to Lund, who finds the Academy graduate about 20 yards out. His snap-shot appears destined for the top corner before Stech sticks out his massive hands and plucks the ball out of the air. Stoke make a change, with Andy Nicholls on for Mitchell.

85 mins - Full marks to Stephen Pressley, who obviously isn't a Messi fan. He's still here watching as Stoke force a throw-in deep in West Ham territory. Edgar and Payne combine and the Hammers clear the danger.

84 mins - Montano gets a rest, with Subuola replacing him up front.

83 mins - Moult again tries to kick-start Stoke's night, but his cross is too close to Stech and the goalkeeper claims unchallenged. Seconds later, the striker turns past Sanchez and Driver before forcing Stech into a smart save low to his left.

80 mins - Moult brings the ball down and carries it forward, but Spence is there to snuff out the danger when the youngster crosses into the penalty area.

79 mins - Payne and Lee combine before the latter shoots powerfully from 25 yards, forcing Begovic to tip the ball out for a corner. Edgar delivers and McNaughton wins it in the air at the far post. Abdulla tries to apply the finishing touch but Begovic clings on.

77 mins - For anyone who is remotely interested, Lionel Messi has scored a hat-trick and Barcelona are now beating Arsenal 3-1. I told you it would be more entertaining to stick with me!

76 mins - Dyer does make a change, replacing Dixon with Ahmed Abdulla.

75 mins - Driver does brilliantly again, beating his man before finding Dixon with a backheel. The forward tries to play the ball one side of Macdonald and run around the other to retrieve it, only for Faye to get back and muscle him off the ball before clearing with his left foot.

74 mins - Sanchez sends a good ball down the right channel for Driver to chase. The Academy wing-back wins his initial challenge with Macdonald, only for the ball to spin in the Stoke player's favour and he is able to clear. Driver, Sanchez and McNaughton have been superb so far tonight.

72 mins - I'm not sure Alex Dyer will want to change things here, but Nicky Barrett is out warming up along the touchline. The manager's only concern may be that his young players will tire in the closing stages.

70 mins - West Ham are pushing hard for a winner, here. First, Begovic is forced to tumble on to a Ferrari cross, then the goalkeeper is out quickly to claim Edgar's attempted pass to Dixon.

69 mins - Close at the other end, this time. Payne crosses low to Montano, who takes a touch and sees his shot loop just over the crossbar off Macdonald. Edgar's corner is headed back to him, before his second cross falls to Payne on the volley, but his powerful shot is blocked.

66 mins - Stoke go as close as they have gone all night. Beattie wins the ball about 35 yards out and tees up Pugh, who strikes the bouncing ball first-time from the left corner of the penalty area. The shot is well-struck and Stech can only palm it out for a corner. The flag-kick comes to nothing and West Ham clear.

65 mins - McNaughton doesn't get enough on his clearance and Lund is able to find Cohen, who crosses, but Sanchez is there to clear before Payne belts the ball upfield. A warning for Dyer's men, there.

64 mins - West Ham really need to score while they are on top. Driver is involved again as he tees up Payne to cross deep to the back post, but the centre is just too long for Ferrari, and the ball flies out of play off the top of the Italian's head.

62 mins - That was a great, great chance. Dixon lays the ball off to Payne, who waits before clipping a perfect ball over the Stoke defence to Lee. The youngster has an age, but his first touch takes him a little bit wide and he rather mis-hits his shot across the face of goal.

61 mins - I doubt any of you are bothered that Arsenal are drawing 1-1 in Barcelona, but there you go. Back here at Nantwich, the Hammers are controlling the game, with the back three of Spence, Sanchez and McNaughton looking very solid.

59 mins - Sanchez takes a terrible free-kick and it hits Moult. He mis-controls and Spence takes the ball off him before the striker fouls him. The referee whistles and tells Moult he is on his 'final warning'. Yes, it is that quiet here that I can hear what the referee is saying to the players!

58 mins - Edgar's corner drops to McNaughton, but he just cannot get the ball out from under his feet and his shot is blocked inside the six-yard box. West Ham are well on top, here.

56 mins - Ferrari has penalty claims waved away. His cross hits a hand, but the referee is adamant that it was accidental. The ball eventually goes out for a corner.

54 mins - West Ham have started again well here after half-time. Josh Payne is again looking lively. His pass to Montano leads to Lund conceding a corner. Payne takes it himself short to Edgar, whose teasing cross is headed away.

52 mins - Edgar breaks free down the left, drops his shoulder and mis-controls the ball through to Begovic. Shame.

51 mins - Tony Pulis looks to have got a bit bored and gone home. The same cannot be said of Falkirk manager Stephen Pressley, who is watching on intently from his seat in the row in front of me.

48 mins - it is still not exactly bright here at Nantwich Town FC. Montano breaks forward through the gloom and gets goal-side of Macdonald. He tries to square to the unmarked Edgar, but the centre-back blocks his pass.

46 mins - Montano takes the ball from the kick-off and tries to slalom his way through the Stoke defence, much like he did in a recent Academy league game against Norwich City. This time, he is stopped in his tracks by Davies.

Welcome back to the Weaver Stadium, which I can now happily report is bathed in a warm glow from the floodlights. West Ham will kick-off the second half...

Half-time score - Stoke City reserves 0-0 West Ham United reserves

The floodlights are slowly coming back on again...

45 mins - Before Stech can take the goal kick, the referee blows for half-time. We'll have to see if the floodlights can be turned back on in time for the second 45 minutes. The 'M People' are back on the airwaves again...

44 mins - The lights are slowly turning back on again in the stand, but the floodlights are still off as Beattie's shot is deflected behind for another corner. The ball is curled in and skims off Sanchez's head for another flag-kick. Pugh's centre is too deep and flies out for a goal kick on the far side.

42 mins - It is still light enough to play until half-time. Play resumes with a Stoke free-kick, which is headed out for a corner. The ball is curled in and headed clear at the near post by Lee.

We are reliably informed that the generator will 'take a few minutes to warm back up' and then we'll be back underway again. We got a brief burst of 'M People' on the tannoy, but that has gone off again now.

41 mins - We have just had a power cut! I am working on battery power, so will keep you updated for as long as possible. The referee had just called Anthony Edgar over for a talking too after the midfielder presumably spoke out of turn. The floodlights have gone off...

40 mins - Hmmmm,,. Lee finds Montano with a lovely curling pass around Macdonald. The defender appears to push the forward over as he reaches the penalty area, but the referee waves away the claims of Montano and Dixon. It looked like a clear push, but the referee is adamant, waving his arms to signal 'play-on'.

38 mins - Stech claims the long throw well and bowls the ball out immediately to Ferrari. He finds Dixon, who turns infield and finds Driver in acres of space on the right. The wing-back seems to be caught in two-minds and his low cross is easily cut out. That was half a chance.

37 mins - Beattie gets free down the inside-right channel, but Spence is across well to put the ball behind for another corner. Pugh crosses left-footed and Lee heads out for a throw-in.

34 mins - Beattie turns and shoots from about 25 yards. The ball hits Lee and flies out for a corner. Pugh curls the ball in and Stech calls loudly for it before catching above his head.

33 mins - Moult and Mitchell combine down the right after Ferrari is caught upfield, but Spence is across well to cover and he lays the ball back to Stech.

32 mins - Dixon is looking a bit frustrated. He tries to turn away from Davies, but the ball gets away from him. The Ireland U21 forward looks towards the referee and claims he had been held.

30 mins - The noise of the air conditioning unit seems to have got louder. West Ham win a series of throw-ins down the right. From the latest, Driver hurls it into the box, where Begovic collects easily.

29 mins - West Ham win a corner down the right. Edgar crosses and McNaughton is penalised for a clear push at the back post.

28 mins - This is rapidly turning a bit comical. McNaughton turns and passes back to Stech, who completely shanks his clearance along the ground. It somehow eludes Moult and goes back to McNaughton, who clears.

26 mins - Talking of rusty... Faye makes a hash of his through ball to Beattie and McNaughton takes a massive hack at the ball, only to slice it through to Stech. West Ham break, but Dixon's cross-shot goes tamely behind the goal.

24 mins - The opening 24 minutes have not been the best I've seen all season, but the Hammers are more than holding their own against their more experienced hosts. Moult, who scored twice for Stoke in their 5-2 defeat in the reverse fixture at Bishop's Stortford, has been the brightest player on show so far. Beattie, meanwhile, looks a bit rusty.

21 mins - Mitchell has just had a shocker there. Lund spreads play wide right where the midfielder has acres of space behind Ferrari, but he makes a complete hash of controlling the ball and it rolls off his foot for a throw-in. I doubt Pulis would have been too impressed by that.

19 mins - Moult and Beattie combine before the former turns away from Ferrari and crosses into the West Ham box, where Sanchez clears with a diving header.

17 mins - West Ham's wing-backs are having lots of joy down the flanks. Both are getting themselves available in plenty of space and getting forward regularly. The challenge will be to maintain their fitness and discipline for the full 90 minutes. Ferrari illustrates my point by turning away from his marker brilliantly and winning a free-kick inside the Stoke half.

15 mins - Good hands from Stech there as Lund fires Beattie's lay-off straight at him from 25 yards.

14 mins - Driver gets forward superbly down the right and finds Montano unmarked in the centre. The Colombian takes a touch but makes a mess of his attempted volley.

13 mins - Payne leaves Beattie in a heap with a strong but fair challenge on the touchline. The striker doesn't look too happy, but he's going to be OK to continue.

11 mins - Edgar shows some strength in knocking the much bigger Faye off the ball before the African brings down Payne. West Ham are settling down nicely here. Dixon has done particularly well up front, showing good strength and composure to hold the ball up on a number of occasions.

9 mins - Montano does well twice, the first time running at the Stoke back four, then by winning a left-wing corner. Edgar takes, but his effort is overhit. McNaughton retrieves the ball, but his cross is blocked.

6 mins - Anything you can do... Mitchell races on to Moult's pass and gets in behind McNaughton. He seems to have an age to pick his spot, only to shin his shot badly wide of the near post. He should have done better.

4 mins - A chance for Driver inside the Stoke box. He got forward well and maybe should have hit the target from a tight angle after latching on to Montano's poked through ball. Instead, his shot flies wide of the near post and into the hedge behind the goal.

2 mins - I seriously don't think I have ever been at a game at this level with less noise coming from the crowd. Instead, all I can hear are the shouts of the players and managers and the air conditioning unit on the wall behind me. West Ham are playing with five at the back, with Driver and Ferrari as wing-backs.

1 min - Hmmm... An uncertain start from the home side, who give the ball away twice and allow Cameron Mitchell and Louis Moult to combine. Moult crosses low and Beattie misses his kick. The ball drops to Matthew Lund, but he shoots straight at Stech.

6.59pm - Stoke get us underway a few seconds early...

6.58pm - The wind has got up a little bit in the last few moments, but conditions are generally superb for a game of football. Stoke will kick-off shooting towards the end with trees behind the goal. West Ham will attack the end with playing fields behind the goal...

6.56pm - Here come the two teams...

6.55pm - Stoke manager Tony Pulis is here, alongside a host of scouts and important-looking men in suits. I am astounded to announce that Pulis is not wearing a baseball cap.

6.52pm - Academy goalkeeper Deniz Mehmet and defender Paco Craig have also made the trip to Nantwich. The two youngsters are not included in the matchday 16, but will no doubt benefit from the experience of being with Dyer and his reserve squad.

6.50pm - The PA operator here obviously has a CD collection that has not been added to since the 1980s. The likes of Europe, Queen and Tina Turner have been filling the air here over the past 20 minutes or so. Stoke's players have already headed for their dressing room, while Alex Dyer's squad are just filtering back down the tunnel ahead of tonight''s game. As far as I know, there are no big games being played elsewhere this evening, so what better way to spend the next couple of hours than here on

6.45pm - We have 15 minutes to go until kick-off here at the small yet neat and modern Weaver Stadium. It has clouded over here in deepest Cheshire, but we look set fair for a dry evening. The playing surface looks a tad bare in places, but generally doesn't look to be the worst. Tonight's game represents a big chance for some of the club's younger players to stake their claim. Callum McNaughton will be relishing a battle with Beattie, while the challenge for Cristian Montano is to score past Bosnia international goalkeeper Begovic, who was in near-unbeatable form for Portsmouth when West Ham visited Fratton Park in January.

Good evening and welcome to the friendly confines of the Weaver Stadium here in the Cheshire market town of Nantwich.

West Ham United reserves will take on an older, more experienced Stoke City side in their penultimate FA Premier Academy League South away fixture of the 2009/10 campaign.

Alex Dyer has a young side at his disposal, with Jordan Spence captaining a team including Czech Republic Under-21 goalkeeper Marek Stech and first-year professionals Davide Ferrari, Olly Lee, Josh Payne, Anthony Edgar and Terry Dixon.

The starting XI is filled out by four second-year scholars in defenders Callum Driver, Sergio Sanchez and Callum McNaughton and forward Cristian Montano.

Stoke, in contrast, have five players with extensive Barclays Premier League experience in their starting lineup.

Asmir Begovic, who starred for Portsmouth in their 1-1 draw with West Ham at Fratton Park before joining Stoke for £3.25m in January, will be in goal, while England striker James Beattie is back in action following a knee injury.

Former Middlesbrough defender Andrew Davies will marshal the back four, while Senegal midfielder Amdy Faye and ex-Manchester United winger Danny Pugh are also in the Potters side.

Stoke City reserves: Begovic, Cohen, Macdonald, Davies, Wint, Lund, Mitchell (Nicholls 88), Am. Faye, Pugh, Beattie, Moult
Subs: Parton, Hedley, Sinclair, Jackon

West Ham United reserves: Stech, Driver, Sanchez, Spence, McNaughton, Ferrari, Lee, Payne, Edgar, Montano (Subuola 84), Dixon (Abdulla 76)
Subs: Cowler, Barrett, Wearen