On a rainy night in Dagenham, West Ham United U23s were left to rue their mistakes after a 1-1 draw to Blackburn Rovers U23s in Premier League 2 Division 2. Martin Samuelsen had put the home side ahead before Lewis Hardcastle’s strike brought proceedings level, but wet conditions made for a disruptive affair.
Samuelsen was available for selection despite being on loan at Blackburn Rovers, whilst Josh Pask also featured after getting permission from Gillingham. However, the young Hammers were still without the injured top scorer Toni Martinez, and Marcus Browne was suspended due to his accumulation of yellow cards.
It looked like the claret and blue side were going to be in cruise control, after Terry Westley’s side took the lead in the seventh minute. Ashley Fletcher picked out Samuelsen in the penalty area who slotted home with a neat side-footed finish into the far corner.
The conditions started to worsen as the rain became increasingly heavier, which made for a scrappy encounter. A Lewis Mansell header was blocked on the line, with Blackburn screaming for a penalty for an alledged handball, but the referee waved away the appeals to the delight of the home faithful.
Chances were few and far between but Rovers were handed a lifeline after half an hour. Goalkeeper Sam Howes needlessly handled the ball outside the box after confusion with his defence, and the referee awarded the visitors an indirect free-kick. A clever piece of improvisation from Blackburn then saw Lewis Hardcastle make it 1-1 from the resulting foul.
There was more bad news just before half-time for the Hammers. Josh Pask pulled his hamstring and was replaced by 15-year-old Bernardo Rosa making his first appearance for the U23s. The wet conditions then took another victim after the break as Jonathan Calleri made way for Sam Ford after the Argentine picked up a slight knock.
Fletcher thought he had a great chance to win the game following a Ford through ball but the linesman adjudged the 20-year-old to have been offside. The game eventually fizzled out, with both teams leaving the Chigwell Construction Stadium with a point, but the East Londoners will have felt that it’s two points dropped.
The result leaves West Ham’s U23s in third position, six points behind league leaders Swansea. They travel to fellow London side Fulham next.