Colchester United 0-3 Dev Squad FT

Goals from Reece Burke, Danny Whitehead and Dylan Tombides were enough to give the Development Squad victory over Colchester United in a hard-fought game on Thursday evening.

On a night when some of Nick Haycock's regulars were with the first team taking on RCD Espanyol in Barcelona, some unfamiliar faces showed they could still do the business.

Burke set the ball rolling for the Hammers after 36 minutes, heading home from close range after a Sean Maguire shot cannoned off the bar.

Tombides added a second with his first touch of the game moments after coming on as a substitute before Whitehead put the game to bed with a well-struck effort from long range.

The game gave some valuable playing time to those keen to impress Haycock ahead of the Development Squad's next match against Manchester City in the Barclays U21 Premier League on Friday 13 September.

The match at the Weston Homes Community Stadium started at a fierce pace, with both sides eager to retain possession and move the ball around on a slick surface.

Few chances were created early on before the game was sparked into life by Josh Cullen, who latched on to Blair Turgott's pass and lobbed the on-rushing keeper but could only watch as his effort struck the post after 18 minutes.

Colchester, stung into action by Cullen's close shave, should have been in front when Ryan Melaugh scuffed his shot straight at Vit Nemvara after finding himself clean through.

Melaugh was at the centre of things once again moments later as he thought he had given the home side the lead, but a look over to the linesman revealed his close-range effort was taken from an offside position.

The Hammers made Melaugh pay when Burke nodded home from six yards on 36 minutes following Maguire's acrobatic effort, which rebounded off the crossbar.

After the interval the game was equally well contested, with few clear cut opportunities until a moment of quality from substitute Tombides lit up the game with 22 minutes remaining.

The Australian, who had only been on for one minute, showed great skill and composure to chip the 'keeper with his first touch, having latched onto a through ball.

The Hammers were comfortable moments later when Whitehead, picking the ball up in midfield, advanced toward goal and drilled his shot into the bottom corner.

Kieran Sadlier might have made it four before the end but could only hit his shot straight at the goalkeeper as Haycock's team secured a well-deserved victory.