Summer breeze for the Hammers
WE HAVEN T even had the Ashes Test match at Lord s yet, but on Sunday West Ham began their pre-season campaign with a friendly at Grays Athletic - it was July 12! Writes Dave Evans. Over 3,000 fans must have been missing their football fix, because a heal
WE HAVEN'T even had the Ashes Test match at Lord's yet, but on Sunday West Ham began their pre-season campaign with a friendly at Grays Athletic - it was July 12! Writes Dave Evans.
Over 3,000 fans must have been missing their football fix, because a healthy crowd turned out to watch a Hammers team devoid of most of their star names.
Those that came along did get the chance to see a fit and bearded Kieron Dyer, as well as the returning Danny Gabbidon and James Collins, while Jack Collison and Junior Stanislas also made second half appearances.
Most of all though, it was a chance to see some of West Ham's up and coming players and certainly one or two did impress, despite the fact that they had been back in full training for less than a week.
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Zavon Hines and Anthony Edgar looked sharp in the opening 45 minutes, while Colombian Cristian Montano came on in the second half and grabbed the winning goal for the Hammers.
The reappearance of Julien Faubert was one of the more surreal aspects of the day. The French international was playing - or sitting on the bench - at the Bernabeu just a few months ago.
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Now he is plying his trade as a full back at Grays Athletic and his first effort was to see a pass roll under his foot and go off for a throw-in!
Young full back Matty Fry started this game in style with a speedy run down the left flank and then a stunning crossfield pass to the feet of Faubert.
But it was Hines and Edgar who combined for the former to toe-poke the ball into the far corner as West Ham took the lead.
Grays hit back and Jamie Slabber turned the exposed Collins with ease, before firing in a shot that deflected off Fry before flying past Peter Kurucz in the West Ham goal.
Grays were holding their own at this point, though Hines did weave through two challenges before seeing a vicious shot saved, and Eoin Wearen fired the rebound wide.
Another superb crossfield pass, this time from Collins to Faubert, saw the Frenchman drill a shot wide of the mark as the first half ended all square.
It was all change after the break with Gabbidon, Stanislas, Herita Ilunga and Collison coming on, though Savio was not risked as he had suffered a slight strain in training on Saturday.
Conor Okus looked useful in central midfield, with one turn away from his marker and pass to release Oliver Lee particularly impressive.
But it was Montano who grabbed the winner, as he followed up his initial shot to fire in a rebound and give his team a second.
Ilunga had a goal ruled out for offside, while there was still time to see 15-year-old prospect Robert Hall, who has just been called up to the England under-17 squad.
He looked really sharp and had two efforts blocked as he searched for a third goal.
Team (first half): Kurucz, Faubert, N'Gala, Collins, Fry, Payne, Dyer, Grasser, Wearen, Hines, Edgar.
Second Half: Stech, Spence, Eyjolfsson, Gabbidon, Ilunga, Lee, Okus, Collison, Edgar (Hall), Stanislas, Montano.