RailHawks, storm frustrate Hammers

Carolina RailHawks 2-2 West Ham United
International Exhibition, Tuesday 12 July 2016, WakeMed Soccer Park, Cary, North Carolina, USA

West Ham United were frustrated by the Carolina RailHawks and a mid-match lightning storm as the US Tour ended in a 2-2 draw.

Slaven Bilic’s side fell behind to an early Winston Reid own-goal, but were ahead by half-time through an opportunist strike from the New Zealand defender and a smart finish from Andy Carroll.

Fifteen minutes into the second half, heavy rain signalled the arrival of a thunderstorm that saw lightning flash across the dark North Carolina sky, and referee Christopher Spivey call a temporary halt to proceedings for safety reasons.

In hot, humid and initially sunny conditions, Bilic again made wholesale changes to his team as the game wore on in front of a RailHawks record 10,125-strong crowd.

The International Exhibition was the first time an English Premier League team had visited an area known as The Triangle – Cary sits between three renowned universities in North Carolina, Duke and North Carolina State – and the event was marked with a truly memorable occasion.

Thousands of West Ham fans descended on the region, painting the WakeMed Soccer Park Claret and Blue on a fantastic evening of football, fly-pasts, fireworks – and thunder and lightning!

Fresh from a 4-1 NASL thumping of Joe Cole’s Tampa Bay Rowdies of Saturday evening, the RailHawks started on the front foot and went ahead on 13 minutes. Captain Nasmi Albadawi got to the byline and his cutback was volleyed past Adrian by a stretching Reid.

However, the No2 got his side back on level terms eight minutes later when Carroll forced a mistake in the home defence and Reid kept his composure to slot past Akira Fitzgerald.

Within 90 seconds, the visitors were in front as new boy Sofiane Feghouli celebrated his maiden start for the Club by racing down the right and crossing low for the England centre-forward to slide home left-footed.

The RailHawks – coached by ex-Southampton and Northern Ireland striker Colin Clarke – responded well and striker Brian Shriver hit the woodwork with a delicious curling effort from 20 yards.
The second half was largely uneventful until the heavens opened on the hour-mark, with the storm forcing the match to be temporarily suspended and thousands of fans to head for shelter.

After a 40-minute break for the weather to clear, the game restarted with no fewer than six new West Ham players on the pitch.

However, it was half-time replacement, Lewis Page who unfortunately slipped as he tracked back and handled the ball, enabling Marvin Ceballos to fire high past Raphael Spiegel from the spot.

With lightning still flashing in the night sky nearby, both teams created chances in the closing stages, with Marcus Browne forcing a smart save from Sylvestre with ten minutes remaining.

The RailHawks then introduced their biggest-ever signing, former Mexico international Omar Bravo, whose arrival had only been confirmed at half-time!

West Ham played out the final few minutes with ten men after Doneil Henry was forced off with a leg injury, and the game petered out into a draw.
Carolina RailHawks: Fitzgerald (Sylvestre 46, Robinson 87), Beckie (Mason 62), Mensing (Miller 46), Moses, Shipalane (Morales 63, Del Rosario 90), Watson (Albert 63), Da Luz (Orlando 62), Albadawi © (Hassan 63), Marcelin, Shriver (Ceballos 38, Perez 80), Fondy (Schuler 46, Bravo 80)
Subs not used: Tobin, Arnez, Orozco
Booked: Miller
West Ham United: Adrian (Spiegel 46), Byram (Makasi 63), Reid (Henry 63), Burke (Rice 63), Cresswell (Page 46), Obiang (Poyet 63), Noble ©, Feghouli (Quina 63), Samuelsen, Lanzini (Browne 63), Carroll (Martinez 46)
Booked: Page, Quina
Referee: Christopher Spivey
Attendance: 10,125