By Jack Lebeau
Irons under 23s 0 Everton under 23s 0
West Ham U23s begun life in the higher division tonight with a 0-0 draw against defending champions Everton.
We lined up 4-2-3-1: Trott Pike , Akinola, Alese, Neufville; Makasi , Coventry , Antonio , Samuelsen , Diangana, Martinez.
I felt very sorry for Dan Kemp being replaced by Antonio as he was unlucky to not go away with the first team this summer, and has by far been our best U23 performer in the U23 friendlies too.
I was surprised Martinez was included as thought he’d be off to Man United, so it must mean Sakho is back for the bench on Sunday. I’m also surprised Haksabanovic wasn’t included; maybe he will be around the first-team this season.
The youngsters were brilliant in the first half with Antonio prominent as he drifted over to left wing and skinned their right back within 30 seconds to put in a good cross for Martinez.
He certainly didn’t look like a player who had been out injured for four months; he chased everything down as if he was playing in a cup-final and got involved everywhere across our attacking half of the pitch and sometimes defensively too.
The two other notable performers in the first-half were Diangana who was very tricky for them out wide and Martinez, who narrowly missed a brilliant headed chance right on half-time, but he also chased down every lost cause and held the ball up well.
I’m surprised Makasi was given the captaincy given he has been pictured kissing the Man United badge & laughing at Liverpool scoring against our first team – that doesn’t really suggest captain material to me as opposed to someone like Alex Pike.
I’ve now seen Pike play against Everton, Billericay, Colchester & Dagenham and he has been awful most of the time. It is no surprise to see why he wasn’t used when we had our right-back crisis not so long ago.
Conor Coventry has a brilliant first touch and a great pass on him but it was very evident that he just needs to bulk up a bit and sort out his tackling in order to improve; maybe he’d be better played further forward?
Fans will remember him as the little 16 year old scoring on his U23 debut at the London Stadium back in February when he as doubled our lead against Fulham.
Coventry had to be my Man of the Match tonight despite receiving a late red card for two second yellows; the second being for not retreating enough for a free-kick.
That was very harsh and he couldn’t quite believe it! Toni Martinez and Diangana (who takes a brilliant corner) also impressed again in the second half but it’s hard to talk up Martinez too much given he missed yet another clear cut chance towards the end – something a striker shouldn’t be doing! There was also a brilliant chance for Everton in the closing stages as they hit the post.
Trott was very commanding and looked solid throughout, something Matrevics really needs to learn from. We were fairly sloppy defensively with many rash clearances.
It was nothing pretty but it did the job. Trott also very quick off his line and made a great save from a header from a corner – to add to two incredible ones at Billericay on Tuesday night.
Antonio played 71 minutes and certainly tired towards the end, however he did adapt himself by making less runs off the ball and drifting into the middle to save his energy when he did receive the ball, he even had a decent chance to score when he waded through their midfield & had a shot from just outside the box.
One side note – I’m not sure if it was deliberate or not but the middle of the pitch was very evidently soaking wet (unlike the rest of the pitch) – could be because of heavy rain yesterday/Wednesday but might have been purposely done to disrupt any kind of passing play in the middle from Everton.
We handed a debut to Alese who started at Centre Back . He is an English 16 year old who signed his first professional terms with us this year – he was sought after by Man City and Liverpool before signing for us so is clearly highly rated and has captained England U16 before. I have to say he definitely impressed me but was replaced just before the end by Korrey Henry (who went into midfield with Makasi going CB)
Attendance tonight was 515, 100-200 more than our average last season so good to see so many there especially when the Premier League was back on TV tonight. Our next game at home (Dagenham’s ground) is on Sunday 27th August when we play Swansea at 1pm. Entrance is free for ST Holders. Our next game though is in the Checkatrade trophy on Tuesday where we play Swindon’s first team away.
Hello Jack (you must get fed up with Hi Jack !)
Can you please confirm which of the 2 centre backs tonight was Alese and which was Akinola – shirt numbers 5 & 6. Both played pretty well but I was particularly impressed with No6. Also impressive was Makasi despite his alleged love for other clubs.
However I thought Martinez and Samuelson were disappointing and I didn’t like the way Antonio seemed to be limping towards the dressing room after the game, maybe he’d stiffened up but looks at least a few weeks away in my opinion. The young ginger kid playing CB for Everton had Martinez in his pocket most of the time, I’m afraid he’s a long way from Premier League on that performance. Although it was 0-0 I enjoyed the game and the D&R pitch looks like a great surface, I think I’ll steel myself and go to the Tottenham away game next Friday, it’s at their training ground, should find somewhere to have a good dump!
That’s is strange about Toni being there he has been supposedly set up for squad team and then no Sead the new signing was supposed to play.
Jack. Any chance of the side with numbers against them as other than a few I couldn’t work out who was who. Great game and really enjoyed our passing play. The 2 CB I personally thought were fantastic and the 11 and 8 were everywhere. Not sure where you got Connor Coventry being our best player as when walking out most of us were saying he was non existent with the game passing him by but football is all about opinions I guess. Thanks for the report.