West Ham United U23s eased to victory against Fulham in the first ever development match played at the London Stadium on Monday night. Goals from Nathan Holland and Conor Coventry were enough to see off the Cottagers as the home side dominated the affair for large parts of the 90 minutes in front of 1,171 fans in Stratford.
Despite Fulham laying claim to the first chance of the evening, a header that looped onto the roof of the Hammers net, the momentum didn’t continue. Grady Diangana had two speculative efforts sail over in bar in quick succession on the eighth minute mark as West Ham began to up the ante.
New signing Holland was looking for a third goal in three games as he and Joe Powell frequently linked up down the left side to give West Ham more menace in attack. In the 20th minute, Holland got his goal. Powell played a short ball to the former Everton trainee, who curled the ball past Jesse Joronen in the Fulham goal.
The opener well and truly set the tone for the game now and gave the young Hammers an added burst of confidence. Two minutes after Holland’s strike, Diangana was seemed to be fouled in the penalty area leading to protests from West Ham staff and supporters alike, however referee Constantine Hatzidakis waved away any appeals for a spot kick.
Terry Westley’s side started the second half how they left off the first. Once again, the Fulham defence were subject to wave after wave of attacks. The Hammers made particular use of the right flank with Kyle Knoyle performing a mazy run that saw a number of Fulham players beaten before eventually seeing his shot parried by Joronen.
No less than a minute later, it was Dan Kemp’s turn to get into the action down the right hand side of the pitch. Twisting and turning his way through a seemingly out-of-sorts Fulham defence, Kemp proceeded to rattle the crossbar as West Ham went in search of a second goal.
Fulham struggled to fashion out any real chances, with Sessegnon drawing Trott into a routine save the 78th minute. Seven minutes later, on the 85th, a sense of déjà vu rung around the former Olympic Stadium as the midfielder hit a carbon copy of his earlier effort at Trott, resulting in the same outcome.
West Ham United made sure of all three points just before the final whistle, substitute Conor Coventry latched onto a neat ball from fellow sub Jahmal Hector-Ingram to double the Hammers’ lead.
The home win will help West Ham’s promotion aspirations as it now puts the team just four points behind second placed Fulham as the race for the play-offs heats up.
West Ham United XI: Trott; Knoyle, Rice (C), Pask, Neufville; Makasi, Sylvestre, Kemp (Parfitt-Williams ‘70), Holland; Powell (Hector-Ingram ‘70), Diangana (Coventry ‘81).
Subs not used: Matrevics, Akinola.