Peerless Payet peels Shrimpers

Dimitri Payet was the undoubted star of the show as West Ham United scored an entertaining 3-2 pre-season win at Southend United
Dimitri Payet was the undoubted star of the show as West Ham United scored an entertaining 3-2 pre-season win at Southend United on Saturday.

The France international scored two outstanding goals to cap a virtuoso performance at Roots Hall, the first an unstoppable free-kick and the second an accurate finish into the bottom corner.

Payet also played a central role in the winner, too, collecting the ball inside the penalty area, beating his man, crossing and forcing Luke Prosser to put the ball into his own net.

The opening half was a thrill-a-minute affair. West Ham controlled the early part of the match, with full debutant Stephen Hendrie going closest when he stabbed Payet’s through-ball a yard past the far post.

Having survived a flurry of Hammers corners, Southend took an unexpected lead on 20 minutes when Darren Randolph failed to gather a deep John White cross and Kevan Hurst fired home via a slight deflection.

Payet then took centre-stage, stepping up to curl in an unstoppable 25-yard free-kick into the top corner after White had brought down the lively Martin Samuelsen.

For minutes later, the No10 was at it again, slotting a superb finish inside the left upright after Samuelsen’s initial shot had been blocked.

Roared on by 1,500-plus fans packed into the old North Bank, West Ham looked set to take total control of the game, only for Southend to get back on level terms four minutes before half-time.

A cross was allowed to travel all the way over Randolph to the far post and Anthony Wordsworth, who controlled and centred for Jack Payne, who headed into the unguarded net.

Into the second half and West Ham went ahead for a second time on 56 minutes, with Payet the architect, dropping his shoulder and firing in a low cross which Prosser could only stab past Play-Off final hero Daniel Bentley and into his own net.

To complete an outstanding debut, the former Marseille man played in Cheikhou Koyuyate – making his first appearance of the pre-season – but the big Senegal midfielder saw his low shot well saved by Bentley.

A short time later Payet, fellow debutant Angelo Ogbonna, the returning Kouyate, Samuelsen and Stephen Hendrie were among six players replaced, with youngsters Reece Oxford, Josh Cullen and Friday night Development Squad scorer Nathan Mavila among those to come on.

Southend manager Phil Brown also chopped and changed his lineup and with so many substitutions, the game lost its flow and pattern to a great extent.

Sakho and Maiga combined twice late on, but the former shot into the side netting before sending a looping header onto the roof of the net.

To be fair to them Southend kept going until the final whistle and fired a couple of efforts of their own over Randolph’s crossbar, but it was the Hammers who held on comfortably to secure their first pre-season success.

The Hammers will return to action as soon as Tuesday evening, when Bilic will take his squad up the A12 to face another Essex-based League One side in Colchester United. Kick-off at the Weston Homes Community Stadium is at 7.45pm.

West Ham United: Randolph, Pike, Collins (c), Ogbonna (Oxford 60), Hendrie (Page 60), Poyet, Kouyate (Nasha 60), Payet (Cullen 60), Parfitt-Williams (Mavila 60), Samuelsen (Maiga 60), Sakho
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