West Ham U23s jumped up to third in the Premier League 2 standings with a fantastic 2-1 win over league rivals Manchester City on Saturdat at Victoria Park.
A Nathan Holland equaliser was followed by Toni Martinez’s eighth league goal of the season to overturn the opener from City’s Taylor Richards to stretch the Hammers unbeaten run to four games.
Straight out the blocks
Both teams created plenty of chances throughout and it would have been more if it was not for the outstanding performances from goalkeepers Nathan Trott and Aro Muric. The shot-stoppers made crucial saves throughout the game to keep the score at just three goals between the two sides despite well over 30 attempts.
The more physical Citizens started the brighter of the two, creating plenty of chances to keep England U20 international Trott and his defence busy.
City striker Lukas Nmecha was causing all sorts of problems for the Hammers’ defence with his pace and strength, not giving the centre-half pairing of Alex Pike and captain Josh Pask a moment of rest in the early exchanges.
Just as the Young Hammers seemed to get going in the game, City nearly took the lead. Ed Francis put Nmecha clean through with a tremendous 40-yard ball but the striker failed to convert and slotted the ball just wide of Trott’s far post.
Luck abstained from West Ham shortly afterwards when Nmecha once again found himself free in the box after great link-up play between him and Francis. The number nine saw his strike saved by Trott, but only for it to fall to Taylor Richards in the box who put it into the roof of the net.
West Ham responded well. Mounting the pressure on the leaders and forcing multiple saves from Muric, he denied Holland time and time again as the half drew to a close.
Ironically it was from a counter-attacking move that saw West Ham restore order. After Trott denied Nmecha once more, the Young Hammers quickly broke the length of the field through Haksabanovic. He played in Holland who tucked the ball calmly into the corner for 1-1.
The second half started with much of the same from the Hammers. The attacking contingent of Martinez, Holland, Kemp and Quina continued to cause problems as West Ham went looking to take the lead.
With nothing falling for West Ham, the points seemed destined to be shared but up stepped Toni Martinez. Having had a rare quiet game, the Spaniard took the game to City with seven minutes left on the clock.
He picked the ball up five yards inside the City half, driving at the goal before unleashing a rocket of a right-footed drive into the bottom corner from 25 yards out.
Despite a minor scare straight after Martinez’s goal, from which Trott superbly saved, when Jairo Dilrosun found himself free, the East Londoners secured an impressive three points.