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Everything posted by winterburnsilva

  1. A relatively small squad, with a few u23 players thrown in to make up the numbers. Four players that really stand head and shoulders above the rest, but two of those are 37 and 33 so won't be around for long. Jim Fenlon's wages are also going to cripple us, with a wage budget of £520 a week, having one player taking up £210 of that is a bit of a nightmare. I'm already kind of half hoping that teams take an interest in him, along with anyone else who is on a weekly wage, rather than just appearance fees.
  2. Walton & Hersham F.C. Formed from the merger of Walton FC and Hersham FC after World War II, they were for many years my local team being less than a five minute walk to their ground, Stompond Lane. Despite this I grew up as first a West Ham United fan and then later, a supporter of Woking F.C. (after a group of friends decided in college to follow a football team that was local to all of us, Woking was the 'lucky' pin on the map). My first Walton & Hersham game wasn't until 2001 when West Ham took a somewhat dubious 'XI' to the ground for a friendly, as part of an agreement that allowed the West Ham youth team to use Stompond Lane for their fixtures. After promises of a 'strong first team' were made, Harry Redknapp proceeded to play a mixture of reserves and youth players, with Paul Kitson and Rigobert Song thrown in for good measure. My overriding memory of the game was Kitson receiving abuse from both Walton & Hersham and West Ham fans for "being on £35,000 a week and f****ng useless" for the full 90 minutes and the Hammers struggling to a 1-1 draw. Such was Walton & Hersham's dismay at the team fielded that I believe they recinded the offer to West Ham to use their ground. I didn't go back there until 2006, when Walton & Hersham played Woking in a pre-season friendly, with the hosts losing 3-0. That was the entirety of my experiences with Walton & Hersham until last season, after I heard the dreaded scourge of lower league clubs everywhere.....property developers, had the club firmly in its crosshairs. Forced out of their ground by the council and shoved into a groundshare with their bitter rivals Walton Casuals, they now play at the brand new Elmbridge Xcel Sports Hub. However, in this game the controversial move never happened, Walton & Hersham have stayed at their traditional Stompond Lane home and the property developers are still circling..... the only way they can hold them off is to become so successful the council decides they'd rather have the team there than a housing complex.
  3. Premier League- Match 1 West Ham United Lineup Adrian starts in goal with Joe Hart being ineligible against his parent club, with u23 goalkeeper Nathan Trott on the bench. The defence is pretty much what I consider the first choice with Pablo Zabaleta, Winston Reid, Angelo Ogbonna and Aaron Creswell lining up at the back. The same goes for the midfield with captain Mark Noble making his 349th league appearance for the club with Pedro Obiang lining up beside him. The attacking midfield is still a little bit of a patch-up job, with youngsters Sead Haksabanovic and Edimilson Fernandes being somewhat thrown in at the deep end against one of the title favourites. The two fullbacks on the bench, David Carmona and Arthur Masuaku can at a push cover the AMR and AML positions respectively, with 17-year old Domingos Quina promoted too soon out of necessity to cover AMC. Wout Weghorst is still recovering from his minor injury, so Toni Martinez gets a spot on the bench as backup for Javier Hernandez.
  4. Ok, that was a bit of a disasterous start for the u18s, going down 2-1 at home to Reading and having three players limp off the pitch with various injuries. It started so brightly too, with Korrey Henry getting himself on the end of an excellent Mason Barrett (Man of the Match, 8.3) cross after just 7 minutes to give West Ham u18s the lead with a bullet header. This came a few minutes after Henry had already had a great chance after a long ball hoof up the field by Tyler Forde that the Reading defence failed to deal with. It was only a great point blank 1-on-1 save by Gabriel Rosario that prevented the first goal being scored earlier. Then the injuries started, Louie Watson went off after 9 minutes with a bruised knee (out 1-3 days), Reece Hannam followed him on 21 minutes with a bruised ankle (out 1-3 days). The latter injury forced me to shuffle around at the back, bringing on Ethan Miller and switching Barrett from right to leftback which didn't seem to throw him off his game at all as he was the standout player for the Hammers. Throughout the game he seemed to be creating chances for Korrey Henry that the striker just couldn't take, bar the early goal. He managed to totally fluff two 1-on-1 chances, sending them both high and wide, as well as tamely heading straight at the keeper when anywhere else would have been a goal and then finally hitting the post for a mixed afternoon of work. Reading scored their two goals within three minutes of each other, a real sucker punch for West Ham u18s who had largely been the better side in the first half. First was the result of a fast counter-attack after Malyk Hamilton had hit the post from a cross at one end, Reading u18s broke up the field, Conor Lawless crossed for Jack Nolan with the defence all over the place to easily slot home the equaliser. The winning goal was thanks to a mistake from Mason Barrett who was caught dithering in the box rather than hoofing the ball clear. Lawless and Nolan played a quick 1-2 to take the keeper out of it and meant the former could tap into an empty net. Not great defensively from West Ham u18s for either goal which was a shame, as they were solid up until that point. There was still time for another injury, as Odysseas Spyrides, himself only brought on in the 65th minute, went off again on 81 with sprained knee ligaments leaving the Hammers down to 10 men and will now be out of action for 4-6 weeks. Then to compound matters West Ham u18s missed the last glorious chance of the match right before full-time, as Malyk Hamilton managed to outpace two defenders and surged into the box, where Korrey Henry was totally unmarked, If Hamilton had crossed it would have been an easy tap-in for Henry and a deserved equaliser, instead he selfishly elected to shoot himself at the near post which the keeper easily managed to keep out. So not the best start for West Ham United u18s, up next is an away trip to Norwich City in a week's time.
  5. West Ham United u18s Lineup Well I didn't realise the u18 league only allowed 5 subs, so that immediately put a spanner in my plans to cover every position on the pitch. Out went substitute goalkeeper Craig Powell, to allow me to have both right and left attacking midfield cover. Mason Barrett is versatile enough that he can cover any position in defence if needs be, so I only needed to name a backup rightback to cover him. Rosaire Longelo, arguably the best player overall during pre-season gets the start on the left side of midfield, with the also impressive Conor Coventry in central midfield. Korrey Henry gets the start up front, with Odysseas Spyrides the backup mainly because he can also play AMC if needed. Usually Domingos Quina would be the backup for every position in attacking midfield, but with the injuries to the senior squad I have promoted him temporarily.
  6. First International call-up of the save, as Pablo Zabaleta makes the Argentina squad to face Brazil in the Superclasico de las Americas. He'll only be away four days but gets back the day before the second Premier League game of the season against Manchester United so he might miss out on that one.
  7. Carabao cup 2nd round draw sees West Ham United playing away at League One Charlton Athletic, not too unhappy with that. Would have prefered a home tie, but I'll take playing away to a team two leagues below the Hammers. The Addicks advanced to the second round after a 1-0 away win at Forest Green Rovers, thanks to a goal from Arsenal Loanee striker Chuba Akpom.
  8. Senior Team Friendlies u23 Team Friendlies u18 Team Friendlies Pre-Season Stats
  9. I was rather surprised at the relative ease with which the u23 dispatched the Bayern Munich reserves, limiting them to just one shot on target in the 90 minutes. However on closer inspection of the side they put out there were a lot of teenagers with very little experience. Nothing at all happened in the opening 15 minutes, with the first chance of the game being yet another wasteful and wayward shot from outside the area, this time by Marcus Browne. Jahmal Hector-Ingram repeated the move a few moments later, leading me to think they were just ignoring my instructions on purpose by now, however after the early flurry they seemed to limit the long shots for the rest of the game. Hector-Ingram did continue to be wasteful though, fluffing a one-on-one chance against the keeper when he really should have scored. On 22 minutes Joe Powell won possession in the centre circle with an excellent well-timed tackle, he played it to Marcus Browne who slid an inch-perfect through ball to Daniel Kemp. He did well to hold off two defenders, cut inside and casually dinked it over the advancing keeper, a very cool finish to make it 1-0 to West Ham u23s. It was very nearly 2-0 barely a minute later, Josh Pask pounced on a loose ball from a corner that wasn't dealt with by Bayern, but he somehow managed to kick the ball straight into the keepers face and out for a corner. At half-time the biggest surprise was Bayern II not having a single shot on or off target in the opening 45 minutes. I took Nathan Trott off, with one eye on the opening day Premier League fixture against Manchester City, bringing on Rihards Matrevics in his place. Bayern II had their one and only real chance a few minutes into the second half, Franck Evina managed to beat Josh Pask for pace far too easily down the right flank and put a cross in aimed for Manuel Wintzheimer. His header went straight at Matrevics though, if it had been aimed either side at that close range it would (and should) have been the equaliser. Declan Rice had an almost carbon copy chance at the other end from a Powell corner a few moments later, managing to somehow aim straight at the keeper from a few yards out. The German's substitute goalkeeper made an excellent save in similar circumstances on 69 minutes. A Daniel Kemp freekick found the head of Tunji Akinola whose header WAS well placed towards the corner. Somehow keeper Ron Thorben Hoffmann managed to get across and tip the ball over with a great acrobatic one-handed save. From the ensuing corner West Ham u23s DID score though, Joe Powell finding himself totally unmarked in the box from a Daniel Kemp cross and fired into the top corner from close range, giving the keeper no chance this time. The last goal was a very well worked move, starting with an Alex Pike throw in on the right side, a series of smooth one touch passes between Joe Powell, Marcus Browne and Jahmal Hector-Ingram resulted in the latter being through on goal before the Bayern II defence could even react, beating the keeper with a low hard shot to his left side to make it 3-0, the final score. That game brought West Ham United's pre-season to a close, 14 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss being an excellent effort albeit against quite weak opposition for the most part. Most of the key players got sufficient game time under their belts and apart from the late injury to Andre Ayew, emerged unscathed and ready for the long season ahead.
  10. Pre-Season Game 17 West Ham United u23s vs. Bayern Munich II (Germany) Venue: Victoria Road (Capacity: 6,078) West Ham United u23s Lineup Given the experience of the last friendly I tried to arrange myself, I'm half expecting to face the Bayern Munich first team in this u23 friendly. With the Premier League opener against Manchester City three days away I didn't want to risk any of the players I had pencilled in for potential spots in the senior squad for the game. That means Jahmal Hector-Ingram getting the start up front over Toni Martinez and Alex Pike playing in place of David Carmona. The only player to feature in this game that will almost certainly be in the first Premier League squad is goalkeeper Nathan Trott, as backup for Adrian with Joe Hart ineligible to play against his parent club. There are a few senior team backups on the bench with Jose Fonte, James Collins and Sam Byram, purely because they aren't currently in my thoughts for an opening day place, however that could change if there are any more injuries. Also Angelo Ogbonna has a spot on the bench for......reasons that I can't remember, but I immediately realised that was a mistake but had already continued to the game before I changed it.
  11. Three days before the Premier League season starts, as I just start to think that I've had it good with injuries.....bam, Andre Ayew out for 5-6 weeks with sprained knee ligaments. Sead Haksabanovic is the backup option for the attacking left wing spot as an inside forward, although Edimilson Fernandes and Marko Arnautovic can also play there. A bit of reshuffling to the forward line will be required now... Also, this is a bit of an insight into WHY I want my players to try and cut down on shots from outside the box
  12. A pleasing enough performance to bring the senior squad's pre-season preperations to a close, limiting Stellenbosch FC to just 4 shots of target in the game. They did have the first chance of the match though after a slightly dull first 15 minutes, when Reyaad Mxolisi managed to outjump Angelo Ogbonna and send a header just over the crossbar. I have been meaning to alter the West Ham set-piece takers all pre-season, but I always forgot to do it, which has resulted in Mark Noble taking nearly all the corners by default. This time it worked out rather well, on 16 minutes he fired a ball towards the edge of the box, where Pedro Obiang sent a first time pass towards Marko Arnautovic, who sent a rocket of a shot flying past Stellenbosch goalkeeper Nathan Foster to make it 0-1. Two minutes later the lead was doubled, Edimilson Fernandes playing a ball out wide to player of the match Arthur Masuaku, whose first poor attempt at a cross rebounded back to him. On the second attempt he swung a low cross towards the penalty spot, where Javier Hernandez was lurking to poke it past the keeper from close range, a real poacher's goal to make it 0-2. Angelo Ogbonna took a knock to the ankle after a tackle on 23 minutes, it didn't look particularly serious and he wanted to carry on, but I took him off for Matthijs de Ligt anyway as a precaution. After the game he was diagnosed with a bruised ankle and would only be out of action for a day. West Ham United continued to create chances of varying quality. Despite instructions not to do so, Noble persisted in shooting from long range outside the penalty area with no end product. Fernandes hit the crossbar from a Masuaku cross and both he and Arnautovic sent volleys just wide from a pair of Noble corners. The only other real effort Stellenbosch FC had came with a couple of minutes left in the game, a freekick just outside the West Ham penalty area fired way over the top of the crossbar by Fikile April. Next up for the senior team is the start of the Premier League season, with a home game against Manchester City. The last pre-season fixture will see the u23s take on Bayern Munich II at Victoria Road.
  13. Pre-Season Game 16 Stellenbosch FC (South Africa) vs. West Ham United Venue: Athlone Stadium (Capacity: 35,000) West Ham United Lineup Minus the absences of Michail Antonio and Manuel Lanzini due to their injuries and Arthur Masuaku getting a game ahead of Aaron Creswell to get his match sharpness up, this is pretty much the strongest lineup available for the final senior team pre-season match. The gaps in the bench are filled by the usual u23 players- Moses Makasi for CM, Marcus Browne for AMC and Toni Martinez for ST. With the absence of another senior right winger, David Carmona will be the backup in that position for now should he be needed.
  14. No changes to the captains of the senior team with long-standing leader Mark Noble and vice-captain Winston Reid. Moses Makasi's morale initially plummeted at the start of pre-season as I took the captaincy of the u23s off him and gave it to Declan Rice, but he's since recovered from his strop.
  15. Perfect place for a friendly for a premier league team with a large injury list already....
  16. Errrrm... I don't think Feyenoord got the memo about this being an u18s fixture. The first clue was seeing THIRTY-FIVE year old Brad Jones lining up in goal, alongside a starting lineup with no player younger than 20.....for an u18s/u19s fixture....oooook. I immediately switched to a 4-1-4-1 defensive formation to try and limit the damage that the FIRST TEAM of Feyenoord were going to inflict on me and I consider it a moral victory of sorts that we limited them to only 3 goals, thanks largely to some excellent saves by Tyler Forde who I thought was unlucky to only get a 6.5 rating. I considered it a small measure of petty justice when Sam Larsson (24, value £5.25 million, 3 international caps) went off with a twisted ankle after 3 minutes and will now miss the first month of the Dutch season. Even that small crumb of joy didn't last long as Jay Mingi decided he didn't fancy a busy afternoon as the Defensive Midfielder and promptly got himself sent off after 13 minutes for a horrendous tackle from behind on Michiel Kramer when West Ham were already 1-0 down. There was wave after wave of Feyenoord attacks, but a combination of poor finishing and good goalkeeping kept the score at 1-0 for the first half. The hard work was immediately undone in the second half as Feyenoord 'u19s' scored from the kick off, with Emil Hansson (ACTUALLY 19!) PUT Michiel Kramer through, his shot beating Forde at his near post to make it 0-2. The 28-year old (£1.6 Million, 81 goals in 222 career games) striker completed his hat-trick with an absolute thunderbolt from way outside the box on 87 minutes. In short, that was a bit of a disaster for a 'moral-boosting' final warmup game for the u18s before their season begins, but considering they were playing the Feyenoord first team I can't be too unhappy about the 3-0 scoreline. Up next, the senior team play their final pre-season game against Stellenbosch FC, their third game at the Athlone Stadium during their tour of South Africa.
  17. Pre-Season Game 15 West Ham United u18s vs. Feyenoord u19s (Netherlands) Venue: Little Heath Sports Ground (Capacity: 750) West Ham United u18s Lineup Originally I wanted to put out what I had decided would be the u18s strongest lineup for the season, but then I noticed I had been a bit careless and allowed 5 players to go through all of pre-season without a start so they needed some game time. That meant first starts for Emmanuel Longelo, Alfie Lewis (from the u23 squad), Kevin Dalipi, Sean Adarkwa and Ben Johnson. I also decided to give Rosaire Longelo another game in his slightly awkward left-back position just to see if he could handle the role against probably the best opposition for the u18s to date.
  18. A game with a large number of shots from West Ham, but a lot of wayward finishing made it a slightly frustrating game to watch. In the first half an hour, Mark Noble and Edimilson Fernandes between them had five shots from outside the box with only one managing to be on target, a weak effort that Cape Town All Stars goalie Anele Matthews managed to save easily. They also combined for another great chance, with Noble firing a freekick into the box that Fernandes could only send high over the crossbar with his header, when really he should have done a lot better, under little defensive pressure. Fernandes then set up Toni Martinez for a shot just inside the box, but with the same tame end result and another easy save for Matthews. Fernandes had more luck a few minutes later, getting an assist for sliding a ball sideways on the edge of the box to Andre Ayew who let fly with a rocket of a first time shot from the very left corner of the area, giving the keeper no chance as it sailed into the top right corner. 0-1 to West Ham United at the break was the least they deserved for their total dominance up to that point. Shortly after the restart Aaron Creswell nearly fluked a goal, after a seemingly mishit cross into the box was fumbled by the opposition keeper against the near post and then scrambled away for a corner with Toni Martinez on the prowl looking for an easy tap in. There were more wayward shots after that in the second half, with Noble, Pedro Obiang and Jose Mauri all trying their luck from outside the box. It seemed that no matter how many times I tried to get them to curb the long shots they just couldn't help themselves. The quality of the chances improved towards the end of the second half, with a Wout Weghorst header from an excellent Sam Byram cross being tipped onto the crossbar by the keeper, followed by Domingos Quina heading narrowly wide after a cross from Andre Ayew. Fernandes then looked set to finish off a neat one-two move between himself and Ayew in the Cape Town penalty area, but his point blank shot was well saved by Matthews. In all this time Cape Town All Stars could only muster one effort on target, a header from Njabalu Nxumalo that he somehow managed to fire straight at Nathan Trott, who probably won't get many easier clean sheets than this one in his career. The second goal came in the third minute of injury time, Edimilson Fernandes set Javier Hernandez through with a defence splitting pass and the Mexican striker made no mistake from close range, blasting it past the diving Matthews to seal the victory, 0-2. The only real negative of the match was Wout Weghorst being subbed off with a gashed head 25 minutes after coming on as a second half sub. Luckily it was nothing too serious, with the diagnosis being out for 3-11 days. Up next is the u18s final pre-season friendly, with a tough home fixture against Feyenoord U19s at Little Heath Sports Ground.
  19. Pre-Season Game 14 Cape Town All Stars (South Africa) vs. West Ham United Venue: Athlone Stadium (Capacity: 35,000) West Ham United Lineup West Ham United's second game at the Athlone Stadium on this tour of South Africa and for this match it's a mixture of youth and experience. Nathan Trott, as third choice goalkeeper behind Joe Hart and Adrian gets the start in game 3, along with fellow young prospects Matthijs de Ligt and Declan Rice. David Carmona, still technically third choice behind Pablo Zabaleta and Sam Byram also gets a game, although it's a toss-up between him and Byram for that main squad backup spot at the moment. Toni Martinez, arguably the best performing player of pre-season so far with 5 goals & 1 assist from 2 starts (+5 sub appearances) gets the nod up front. First team starters Aaron Creswell, Mark Noble, Pedro Obiang, Andre Ayew along with backups Marko Arnautovic and Edimilson Fernandes complete the starting XI.
  20. An excellent result against a Dortmund II team containing English wonderkid Jadon Sancho, as well as good prospects Patrick Pflucke and Amos Pieper (Bench), plus former Hammer Balint Bajner (0 actual games for West Ham after a seemingly pointless loan deal from Liberty Oradea of Romania back in the 08/09 season). West Ham u23s very nearly took the lead straight from kickoff, with Rosaire Longelo crossing from out wide after a speedy run down the left, only for Martin Samuelsen's connecting header to be superbly palmed away by Dortmund II goalkeeper Dominik Reimann. After that it was largely the visitors in control for the first half, with first Jano Baxmann and then Michael Eberwein forcing Rihards Matrevics into a couple of good saves. Despite West Ham u23s being set up on the counter it was Dortmund II who caused the first real scare from a counter-attack, as Patrick Pflucke's ball through beat the offside trap and set up Baxmann again, who again failed to convert his chance. The only other chance West Ham u23s could muster in the first half was a wayward shot by Conor Coventry from outside the box in the 42nd minute. Arthur Masuaku was taken off at half time, not wanting to over exert him in his first game back after a long injury layoff, a 6.6 rating while playing in a less prefered role in a new tactic wasn't too bad. Martin Samuelsen took a knock to the ankle right at the end of the half, so he came off as a precaution, with Jahmal Hector-Ingram his replacement. After the game it was confirmed that there was no lingering injury worry with him. Moses Makasi had an impressive 45 minutes in the DM role in the new tactic, but rather than continue with him I decided to give exciting prospect Kristijan Belic the second 45, to see if he could impress too. There weren't many chances at all in the second half as the game died a bit, which I suppose is a good thing from a West Ham perspective as we limited Dortmund II with the more defensive tactic. Beyhan Ametov fired a direct freekick over the bar, Coventry blazed yet another ball high over after good work by Joe Powell and Argyris Kabetsis hit the post at the start of injury time. Then in the 92nd minute came a moment of quality, as Rosaire Longelo kept up his impressive pre-season form by swinging in a laser accurate cross from the left wing onto the head of Jahmal Hector-Ingram, he seemed to catch Cameroonian fullback Paterson Chato completely unawares, outjumping him easily to head home the winner with virtually the last kick of the game. Longelo ended up with the player of the match award with an 8.0 rating, 2 chances created, 2 key passes and an assist for the winner. I thought the low-ish scores for the defence (Alex Pike 6.2, Tunji Akinola 6.5, Arthur Masuaku 6.6) were a bit harsh as they did hold Dortmund II to only 3 shots on target all game. Up next, the senior team play their penultimate friendly against Cape Town All-Stars at Athlone Stadium
  21. Pre-Season Game 13 West Ham United u23s vs. Borussia Dortmund II (Germany) Venue: Victoria Road (Capacity: 6,078) West Ham United u23s Lineup Formation change for this one, going with a counter-attacking 4-1-4-1, as I expect Borussia Dortmund's Reserves to be much stronger, plus I figured it was about time to start getting players familiar with the second main tactic I wanted them to play. Selection is somewhat limited by the players away on the training camp plus the existing injuries in the squads. Arthur Masuaku gets his first start of pre-season, having recovered from his ankle injury. I doubt I'll give him any more than 30-45 minutes as he's only had a few days training at full capacity. I decided to give Rosaire Longelo the start at left wing, as he was impressive the last time he played in an attacking role, scoring two goals against Glenavon and to be honest, there weren't too many other naturally left-footed options to play there at present. None of the available strikers were comfortable with the complete forward role being used with this tactic, so naturally rather than adjusting the tactic to suit my choices, I've just decided to shove a round peg into a square hole and hope for the best. Korrey Henry gets the start there on the scientific selection basis of 'eenie-meenie-minie-mo'. Should the tactic prove to be a disaster, the likes of Nathan Holland and Daniel Kemp are on the bench to allow me to switch back to 4-2-3-1, with Powell switching to AMC and Makasi moving up from defensive midfielder to take up the central midfield role.
  22. Two cup competitions got drawn on the same day, with the groups for the Checkatrade Trophy and the Premier League International Cup being determined I fancy my chances of being able to progress from the checkatrade trophy, but I'm not sure what sort of quality we will find in the international youth squads, plus the game against Tottenham u23s should be a tightly contested derby match.
  23. Quite a dull opening half an hour as far as chances went, with only a Wout Weghorst free kick that rattled the post being of any note. Anouar el Mhassani and Sead Haksabanovic suffered knocks within 30 seconds of each other, with el Mhassani pulling his groin muscle (out 1-5 days) and Haksabanovic stubbing his toe (4-5 days). This meant I had to replace by my wide attacking midfielders, with Andre Ayew and Marko Arnautovic coming on. Just after the half hour both the substitutes combined for the opening goal. Domingos Quina passed out wide to Ayew whose whipped in cross found Arnautovic perfectly. He placed a header into the bottom right corner, giving the goalie no chance and making it 1-0 to West Ham United. The only other chance of note in the first half was a Marcus Browne (nearly) wonder strike from roughly 40 yards out, with the goalkeeper just managing to get fingertips on it to push it onto the crossbar and out for a corner. It would have almost certainly been the greatest goal of his footballing career, even if it was in a friendly. After the restart Marcus Browne was involved again, as it was his through ball that put Andrew Ayew into a shooting position inside the box. He was unceremoniously hacked to the floor by Dumisane Gcaba, for an absolute stonewall penalty. Ayew picked himself up off the floor to take the spot kick and absolutely smashed it straight down the middle, 2-0 to West Ham United. The game petered out a little bit after that, Ajax Cape Town's best (and only real) chance coming on 69 minutes, as Brian Khenyeza forced Adrian to make a good reflex save from a bullet header, but apart from that West Ham didn't look like conceding and it finished in a fairly comfortable win. Next up, the u23s take on Borussia Dortmund II at home (Victoria Park) in the first of two 'glamour' home friendlies (as much as a reserve u23 game can be described as a glamour friendly anyway lol)
  24. Pre-Season Game 12 Ajax Cape Town (South Africa) vs. West Ham United Venue: Cape Town Stadium (Capacity: 64,100) West Ham Lineup As mentioned previously, the second game was always going to be one for the senior team backups, although there are a few promising youngsters playing out of neccessity. Arthur Masuaku didn't make the trip due to his injury so Vashon Neufville continues to deputise for Aaron Creswell. Marcus Browne gets another start as the 4th central midfielder, with Cheikhou Kouyate still out. Domingos Quina plays AMC, with first choice Manuel Lanzini still out for up to three weeks and backup Edimilson Fernandes having started the first game at right wing. Lastly, Anouar el Mhassani gets the start on the left wing, with normal backup there Sead Haksabanovic switching to the right wing.
  25. Bit of a rubbish first half performance from West Ham, we never really looked in any danger in the first 45 minutes but we seemed to waste so many chances with awful shooting getting sprayed everywhere but towards the goal. West Ham were gifted a goal on 10 minutes when Phila Mthethwa suddenly decided to start playing basketball and handled the ball from an Aaron Creswell corner. Captain Mark Noble smashed it into the top left corner with the goalkeeper deciding not to move at all. I thought this might signal the floodgates opening, but it was a frustrating half with total dominance but no end product. I got so frustrated with the performance that I decided not to make my usual half time subs, deciding instead to send the starting XI out until they at least managed a second goal. Luckily for them, the second goal came 4 minutes into the restart. Pedro Obiang picked up the loose ball in midfield and played it to Marko Arnautovic who had come more central. A couple of one touch passes between him and Mark Noble then saw the latter play in Andre Ayew, who slid the ball under the onrushing keeper. Despite his involvement in the goal I subbed off Arnautovic, along with Edimilson Fernandes and Javier Hernandez straight away as the three poorest rated players with the latter two annoying me with their permanent "Looking complacent" status. One of the replacements, Domingos Quina impressed straight away with a goal. Angelo Ogbonna played a long pass to Ayew, who was put under pressure by the corner flag. He managed to send the ball backwards to the supporting Creswell, whose first time low cross skidded into the penalty area and found Quina, who lost his marker and thumped it past the keeper low and hard to make it 3-0. Ten minutes later Grassy Park got a goal back after some suspect defending. Goalie Khayalethu Dithebe hoofed a long ball up the pitch, which Angelo Ogbonna could only weakly head away into the path of Buyani Julius. He passed to Nkuleko Mlotshwa, bypassing Ogbonna who seemed to phase out and stand still as the ball was played next to him, allowing Mlotshwa to shoot and beat Joe Hart at his near post. Toni Martinez and Jose Mauri combined well with ten minutes left, the former floating a freekick over the defensive wall into the path of the unnoticed and unmarked Mauri who smashed a volley past the desperate dive of Dithebe and into the top corner. From that moment of brilliance followed a moment of calamity as Grassy Park pulled a goal back straight from the kickoff. Charlie Ngcobo ran forward from the restart and played in Mlotshwa, both central defenders totally fell asleep and dithered as Mlotshwa breezed past them both and scored past Hart again to make it 4-2. With the game descending into the wild west the last goal came 5 minutes later. Sam Byram, despite being the right back and with the instruction not to roam too far from position, found himself flying down the left win hugging the touchline(?!). He cut inside and fired in a great pinpoint cross that found Martinez. His header down was only half cleared as Domingos Quina pounced on the ball, firing past a crowd of bodies. The goalkeeper seemed totally unsighted and had no chance to make the save. So, a 5-2 win, no injuries, job done. Bit miffed with the wasted chances in the first half and the calamitous defensive mistakes for both of their goals. Up next is the second game of the South African training camp, as West Ham United take on Ajax Cape Town at the Cape Town Stadium.
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