West Ham United U23s put on a defensive masterclass to earn at point in a 0-0 draw against Newcastle United at St James’ Park. The Premier League 2 clash, which saw a clash between two sides vying for the play-offs, finished goalless but it certainly did not lack drama.
First teamers Arthur Masuaku, Edimilson Fernandes and Ashley Fletcher all started the encounter. Also featuring was Marcus Browne who had returned to the team after being on loan at Championship club Wigan Athletic. However, there was no place for midfielder Domingos Quina as he missed out due to injury.
Browne went close early on, with a fierce strike that forced the Toon goalkeeper Matz Sels into making a decent save to deny the Englishman. The game then came to a halt just a few minutes afterwards with West Ham’s Josh Pask being forced off with what looked like a rather serious injury.
And things soon got worse for the young Hammers. With just 30 minutes played, Arthur Masuaku was shown a straight red card for an off the ball incident. A clear lack of professionalism from the most senior player on the field will not have impressed manager Terry Westley and it left the Irons with an uphill task.
Ten Men Battle On
Nathan Holland was substituted just after the interval with the claret-and-blue team looking to shut up shop, making way for defender Noah Sylvestre.
But it was West Ham who could have taken the lead on the hour mark. A neat counter-attacking move between Browne and Fernandes would have led to a great goal if it wasn’t for a crucial interception by the hosts.
Pressure grew on the visitors as Newcastle pressed and pressed further up the field, with Declan Rice having to make a goal-line clearance as the Irons looked to run down the clock.
A valiant effort from the East Londoners saw them leave Tyneside with a valuable point. The clean sheet meant that only Swansea City have a better defensive record in the league than West Ham, with the latter conceding 23 goals in 20 league games.
The results means that West Ham remain in 5th place with 30 points, just one point behind Newcastle who sit in 4th position. The two sides meet again in the Premier League Cup.