Perfect preparation for Wolves

The Hammers coaching staff were left more than content after a positive night's work in Monday night's 3-2 win away to Dagenham and Redbridge in the Lee Goodwin Testimonial.

A strong first eleven were quick out of the blocks, putting together 23 passes from the kick-off before scoring through Benni McCarthy. The Daggers did not touch the ball until the restart but from then it was a competitive contest. With a host of half-time changes, the home side equalised before Freddie Sears and Freddie Piquionne made the game safe - although there was a late consolation.

McCarthy's goal was his third in three appearances, Sears got the reward for some fantastic form of late and Piquionne continued the run he has in the first team with his fourth goal in four successive matches including Barclays Premier League and Carling Cup. Strikers scoring goals is key, according to senior coach Paul Groves, and Carlton Cole was also a lively presence.


Cole and McCarthy, in particular, are putting real pressure on current first-choice forwards Victor Obinna and Piquionne. "One or two now have got 90 minutes under their belt and played some reserve games. They have put themselves in contention and we want competition for places.

"I am pleased three different strikers scored," said Groves. "It is good for the confidence and nice if they get opportunities that they take them. It all bodes well.

"There was a good pace about the game despite it being a testimonial. The first goal was obviously very pleasing - the fact we moved the ball very well and scored without them touching the ball. In terms of the return of effort and the players' attitude towards the game was fantastic."

The Hammers put on a good show for Daggers favourite Goodwin, who has had to retire from the game because of injury. Avram Grant fielded the likes of Cole, Mark Noble and Scott Parker to name but three. "It was good exercise, a worthy cause and it went well. Hopefully Lee has had a good night and a good return. IT should be a decent send-off for him."

Groves was also pleased with how the younger charges coped after the interval, with several teenagers up against the League One newcomers. "A side that has just come off the back of promotion is a tough place to come in any circumstances. It was good for the younger players."

The focus is now fully on Wolves at the weekend and the coaches will be waiting to make sure the last few internationals away - namely Robert Green, Marek Stech, Lars Jacobsen, Tal Ben Haim and Pablo Barrera - come through unscathed.

"The next three or four days will bring about preparation for Wolves and making sure we can go in and compete against a tough side. This week has given us the opportunity for one or two to have a little bit of a break where it has been full on for a while.

"We have to err on the side of caution for a couple and see how those cope who are coming back from travelling are. In the main the international break has allowed the whole group to recuperate, recharge and go again."

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