Reserves edged out

Thurrock 1-0 West Ham United XI

A youthful West Ham United XI fell to a narrow pre-season friendly defeat at Blue Square South side Thurrock on Saturday afternoon.

Matt Bodkin, who had a spell within the Hammers Academy as a schoolboy, was the hosts' match-winner, unleashing an unstoppable long-range volley past Sam Cowler at Ship Lane.

Substitutes Danny Subuola, Danny Purdy and Callum McNaughton all came close to snatching a draw for Alex Dyer's side, while Thurrock's Craig Pope saw a 25-yard strike cannon back off the crossbar.

With traffic on the nearby M25 at a standstill, defenders Paco Craig and McNaughton were delayed, meaning Sergio Sanchez partnered Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson at the heart of the back four. Filip Modelski and Jordan Brown filled the full-back positions.

In front of them, Olly Lee, Eoin Wearen and George Moncur made up a three-man midfield, with Jack Werndly, Ahmed Abdulla and Robert Hall interchanging in attack.

Lee and Moncur were first to threaten for the visitors, but neither could keep their long-range shots on target before Hall saw his effort deflected into the arms of goalkeeper Joe Woolley.

As so often happens in football, the opening goal arrived totally against the run of play, with Thurrock scoring with virtually their first attack of the game.

When the ball broke to Bodkin 30 yards from goal, he took a touch and sent a wicked volley that looped agonisingly over Cowler and into the net in spectacular fashion.

Hall nearly replied within a minute, only to drag his shot a yard wide after a neat turn on the edge of the penalty area.

Moncur and Lee were both seeing plenty of possession as the half wore on, and the two sons of famous fathers almost combined to level the scores on 27 minutes, only for Woolley to save smartly after Lee had latched on to Moncur's brilliant through ball.

Half-time saw Dyer make no fewer than six changes, with Craig and McNaughton among those to be handed a second-half run out. The manager also switched from a 4-3-3 to a 3-5-2 formation.

West Ham should have been level within two minutes of the restart when the alert Werndly robbed Woolley before feeding Subuola. The striker had just centre-back Rob Swaine to beat from 12 yards, only for the defender to block his low shot.

Thurrock nearly made the most of their let-off twice in the space of five minutes a short time later. First Reiss Gilbey could only stab a cross from the lively Ryan Andrews narrowly wide of the far post, then right-back Craig Pope strode forward before shaking Deniz Mehmet's crossbar with a well-struck shot from 25 yards.

Mehmet then took an accidental whack to the face that necessitated lengthy treatment and a change of shirt before the Turkey U18 international could continue.

Dyer's youngsters continued to plug away, but could not find a way past a staunch Thurrock rearguard, with the sliding Pope denying Subuola what looked to be a certain goal with a well-timed block.

Republic of Ireland U17 forward Purdy curled a free-kick narrowly wide before Mehmet showed no ill-effects from his earlier injury to deny substitute Paul Olima with a superb save.

Into the final ten minutes and Purdy came within a whisker of snatching a draw for the Hammers, only to see his set piece curl inches wide of the target with Woolley stranded.

Moments later, Purdy's corner landed on the head of McNaughton, only for the flame-haired defender to see his effort loop just past the post.

The reserves will return to action on Saturday, when Dyer will take a side up the M1 to face League Two side Burton Albion, with kick-off at 3pm.

West Ham United XI: Cowler (Mehmet 46), Modelski (Driver 46), Eyjolfsson (Purdy 68), Sanchez, Brown, Wearen (McNaughton 46), Moncur (Vose 46), Lee, Abdulla (Subuola 46), Hall (Craig 46), Werndly