West Ham United’s U23 side are set to take on cross-city rivals Fulham in the first ever youth team match at the London Stadium on Monday evening in the Premier League 2 Division 2.
The Hammers will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing 4-1 away defeat at Craven Cottage at the hands of Fulham in November, a game which saw the Cottagers three goals to the good at the half time time, courtesy of a Stephen Humphrys’ brace and a Dennis Adeniran goal. Toni Martínez restored parity for West Ham from the penalty spot before Lasse Vigen Christensen sent the ball into the roof of the Hammers net to complete the rout for Fulham.
However, with both teams currently sitting in the play-off places, the tie is expected to be closer this time around with Humphrys and Toni Martínez, who have 22 Division 2 goals between them this season, out on loan to Shrewsbury Town and Oxford United respectively. West Ham will be unable to call upon 11 under-23 players for the London derby due to loan commitments elsewhere.
A win for West Ham, provided Wolverhampton Wanderers fail to pick up a result against Brighton & Hove Albion on the same night, will see the young Hammers leapfrog the Midlands club into fourth place, further strengthening their promotion aspirations. Victory for Fulham will close the gap to four points on leaders Swansea City, providing Norwich City triumph over the Welsh team, also on Monday night.
Fulham come into this fixture in good form, having been unbeaten in Division 2 for eight matches, a run stretching back to late-October. The home side, on the other hand, have been out of sorts as of late, having only picked up one Division 2 win this calendar year, against Norwich City at Dagenham & Redbridge’s Victoria Road ground.