West Ham United U23s 3-0 Liverpool U23s
Premier League 2 Division 1
Rush Green Stadium
Saturday 6 November
By Steve Blowers
The Hammers soared into second-spot in the Premier League 2 Division One table thanks to this fabulous three-goal victory over Liverpool at Rush Green, where Sonny Perkins’ deadly double and a Thierry Nevers’ strike got Dmitri Halajko’s side back to winning ways.
With David Moyes watching on from the sidelines, the West Ham United manager witnessed an impressive display of finishing by Perkins, who opened the scoring on the quarter-hour mark before Nevers doubled the lead shortly afterwards.
And with the perky Perkins then netting his second goal of the game ten minutes into the second half, Monday evening’s reverse at Leicester City became a dim and distant memory for Halajko’s team, who are now just one point behind table-topping Arsenal.
The Irons made a trio of changes from the side that had narrowly lost to the Foxes five days earlier as Perkins, ‘keeper Krisztian Hegyi and Will Greenidge each returned in place of substitutes Brian Kinnear, Keenan Forson and Jamal Baptiste, who had also found himself on the first-team bench for Thursday night’s Europa League Group H tie in Genk.
And with a dozen minutes on the clock, the recalled Perkins gave the Reds an early warning of his attacking intentions, when he sprinted behind the visitors’ pushed-up defence only for his low 15-yarder to scorch just an inch or so wide of the right-hand upright.
But the ever-alert England U18 striker did not have to wait too much longer to find the net for, on the quarter-hour mark, he reacted first to drill home from six yards after Nevers’ close-range shot ricocheted into his path
Despite beating Derby County last weekend, Liverpool - kicking-off six places and seven points adrift of West Ham - still made four changes with ‘keeper Marcelo Pitaluga, Elijah Dixon-Bonner, Mateuz Musialowski and James Norris all receiving call-ups.
Apart from Musialowski’s deflected early effort, though, the trailing Merseysiders had failed to seriously threaten the Hammers goal in the opening stages but, on 17 minutes, Dixon-Bonner finally tested Hegyi with a 20-yarder that fizzed through the chilly Rush Green air into the Hungarian’s gloves.
That would prove to be the young Anfield midfielder’s last contribution of a miserable afternoon that soon saw the hosts advance deep into Liverpool territory, where Nevers unleashed a low 18-yarder which was deflected beyond the helpless Pitaluga.
Having just witnessed his side conceding twice inside three minutes, the injured Dixon-Bonner was then replaced by Max Woltman midway through an opening half during which Halajko’s team always held the initiative.
Indeed, Nevers might even have doubled his tally when Pierre Ekwah split the visitors rearguard but Pitaluga raced out to bravely pluck the ball off his studs and, after counterpart Hegyi brilliantly clawed away Morgan Boyes’ goal-bound header, Perkins again burst upfield before sending his rising 15-yarder inches over the top.
Ekwah also had a low effort saved in the closing moments of an opening 45 minutes that had been dominated by the lads in Claret & Blue and, with Kamarai Swyer replacing Dan Chesters at the interval, the second period had a similar, one-way feel about it, too.
Certainly, the Hammers first-half marksmen both had early chances to grab a third but Nevers’ imposing run was thwarted before the helplessly-exposed Pitaluga was forced to foil Perkins with his legs.
But on 54 minutes the probing Perkins again produced yet another burst of power and pace to escape his Merseyside markers and take his tally to four goals for the season.
This time, the Hammers No.9 confidently charged deep into Liverpool’s final-third, where he unleashed a low, angled 18-yarder that flew beyond Pitaluga’s outstretched right-glove before nestling in the net via the base of the left-hand upright to the delight of the home dug-out.
Midway through the half, Nevers retired as Forson joined the action and, with West Ham still in dominant mood, Greenidge unluckily hooked Ekwah’s long-throw into the danger-zone inches wide, before Amadou Diallo came on for Armstrong Okoflex.
The Hammers earlier efficiency in front of goal meant that it was, by now, virtually job done and, while Liverpool still showed token resistance with the odd sporadic attack, Hegyi and his defiant defence ensured that an industrious and incisive West Ham United duly departed with a clean sheet having done the business at both ends of the pitch.
West Ham United U23s: Hegyi, Ashby, Longelo, Greenidge, Alese, Potts, Ekwah, Chesters (Swyer 46'), Okoflex (Diallo 77'), Nevers (Forson 62'), Perkins.
Unused subs: Kinnear, Baptiste.
Goals: Perkins 16' 54', Nevers 18'
Liverpool U23s: Pitaluga, Bradley, Beck, Boyes, Koumetio (Quansah 68'), Clayton, Bearne, Balagizi (Corness 58'), Dixon-Bonner (Woltman 21'), Norris, Musialowski.
Unused sub: Hughes.
Referee: Dale Wootton