West Ham U23s finish pre-season with impressive victory over RSC Anderlecht


West Ham U23s finished their pre-season campaign with a 6-0 win against RSC Anderlecht in a prestigious pre-season friendly at the RSC Anderlecht Training Centre.

Goals from Kemp, Powell, Watson and Afolayan saw the Hammers past their Belgian opposition on Friday afternoon.

The friendly marked the end of the U23s pre-season programme where they have gone unbeaten in six games across three countries.

Friday’s game started at a frenetic pace and West Ham were in front inside the first seven minutes. The hosts failed to clear and corner and after the ball had bounced a few times in the box it fell to Joe Powell and he made no mistake volleying home from close-range.

Former Hammer, Craig Bellamy was in the dugout for RSC Anderlecht who were comprised of a number of academy players from different age groups.

Just three minutes later and Powell had doubled the Hammers lead, picking the ball up just inside his own half and lobbing the Anderlecht keeper in what was certainly the pick of the pre-season goals. 

Anderlecht were unable to match the intensity of West Ham in the first-half with Halajko’s side working tirelessly both with the ball and without.

Nathan Holland almost put the Hammers three-in-front when he cut inside and fired onto the bar from 20-yards.

Anderlecht countered with speed and nearly got a goal back when Collasin broke down the right-hand side. A perfectly-timed tackle from Alese robbed the forward of possession with men waiting in the box.

West Ham increased their lead after 33 minutes, Joe Powell swung a free-kick into the back-post and Afolayan was there to hammer home from close range, the striker who spent time on-loan at Oldham Athletic last year looked a real threat before the break.

Halajko’s side controlled the ball with confidence throughout and looked much sharper than their opposition. The Hammers have enjoyed a busy pre-season and Halajko would have been thrilled with his sides first half performance.

The U23s made five changes at the break as he looked to give everyone in the squad minutes ahead of next Friday’s PL2 opener against Fulham.

Just seconds into the second half and a drive from Rosa from range went just wide of the left-hand post.

West Ham picked up where they left off in the second period and extended their lead in the 55th minute. Smart work in midfield by Watson saw Dan Kemp played through on goal. The winger made no mistake firing low under the advancing Anderlecht goalkeeper.

The fifth goal followed shortly after and a quick-passing move was finished off once again by Kemp after Watson and Adarkwa had combined well in midfield.

Louie Watson got himself on the scoresheet inside the last 10 minutes and it was no more than the he deserved. The midfielder was at the centre of everything going forward for West Ham in the second half.

The U23s could have had more late-on as Sean Adarkwa crashed an effort off the bar with the keeper beaten.

The U23s will be filled with confidence following this display and will look to make a positive start in the league. Their PL2 Division 2 campaign begins next Friday evening (9 August) when they host Fulham at the Chigwell Construction Stadium at Dagenham.

West Ham United: Heygi (Roach 72), Rosa, Coventry, Alese, Longelo, Diallo (Kemp 46), Scully (Watson 46), Lewis (Okotcha 46), Powell, Holland (Dju 46), Afolayan (Adarkwa 46)

Goals: Powell 2 (7,10), Afolayan (33), Kemp 2 (55, 61) Watson (81)

RSC Anderlecht Starting XI: Vercauteren, Berglers, Lissens, Leomi, Dailly, Mehssatoh, Masscho, Swray, Polizzi, Collasin, Antonio