Youthful Hammers beaten in U23 pre-season opener
A youthful West Ham United U23 side found themselves on the wrong end of a 2-1 scoreline on Friday as National League outfit Dagenham & Redbridge won the Hammers’ first warm-up fixture at Victoria Road.
With a number of the visitors’ U23 squad away in Switzerland with the first team, it was an extremely inexperienced side that travelled across east London. Nevertheless, they gave a decent account of themselves in a competitive opening half.
Daggers stopper Elliot Justham, did well to thwart Oladapo Afolayan as the Hammers created the evenings first clear-cut opening, while Chike Kandi found Paul Woolston in his way and Elliott Romain fired over from close range as the hosts looked for an opening of their own.
Luke Pennell’s powerful header warmed the palms of Woolston, then the one-time Sunderland and Newcastle keeper did well to cling to Ollie Harfield’s dead-ball attempt as the Daggers began to control proceedings.
Shortly before the break, trialist, Kiran Khinda-John, nodded over as the Hammers goals continued to lead a charmed life.
However, it took the Daggers just five second-half minutes to break the deadlock. Substitute, Lamar Reynolds, fired high beyond Hammers replacement keeper Joseph Anang, this after the former Aveley and Brentwood Town man had burst in from the left.
Romain tested Anang as Dagenham looked to double their advantage, but with 20 minutes remaining Harfield drove low into the corner from 20 yards to put the outcome beyond reasonable doubt.
But the youthful Hammers line-up refused to throw in the towel. Refreshed by a clutch of substitutions, Harrison Ashby lashed a thundering strike in off an upright from fully twenty-five yards to halve the deficit.
Speaking after the match, Academy boss Terry Westley said: “We’ve only been back from 2 July so it has come a little bit early for us, but that was the planning - to play two senior games over the weekend. We had to put a plan in place before Manuel Pellegrini actually came.
“The idea was we’d share tonight's game, that was the thought. But with the first team going to Switzerland, that meant tonight's team was very young - I think eleven of ours had gone to Switzerland with the manager.
“It was tough for the younger ones, but a very good workout and a good start.
Despite the defeat, Westley explained the positives of the encounter: “About moving the ball quickly - because if you hang on to it, you are going to lose the physical encounter. Set some objectives before the game, which were getting fitness, shape and individuals working to our maximum so we are ready for the next game when we go away to Slovakia next week.
“We probably moved the ball too slowly during the first half. We kept the ball nicely, but we never really penetrated and hurt them enough.”
Dagenham & Redbridge: Justham (Moore 59), Hoyte, Gordon, Robinson, Khinda-John, Pennell (Racine 46), Kandi (Podier 71), Romain (Sach 71’), Cheek (Reynolds 46), Bonds (Hyde 59), Harfield
Subs not used: Balogun, Hyde, Salis
Goals: Reynolds 50, Harfield 70
West Ham United: Woolston (Anang 46), Johnson (Okotcha 71), Powell (Watson 59), Belic (Ashby 71), Akinola (Greenidge 71), Alese (Mingi 71), Scully (Parkes 59), Lewis (Chesters 71), Hector-Ingram (Barrett 46), Darosa (Ngakia 71), Afolayan (Longelo 71)
Goals: Ashby 75