West Ham Development Squad 2 (Potts 10, Drury OG 54) Manchester City Elite Development Squad 1 (Ntcham 76)
Starting the game ten points adrift of dafety, the West Ham Development Squad began the almost impossible task of trying to stay up with a solid 2-1 victory over Manchester City’s Elite Development Squad.
Dan Potts gave West Ham an early lead, which was doubled shortly after the break courtesy of an Adam Drury own goal.
Olivier Ntcham gave the visitors hope of a late revival but West Ham dug deep to earn a valuable three points in their bid for survival.
On a pleasant evening at the Boleyn Ground, West Ham took a deserved lead after just ten minutes, thanks in part to some poor defending.
After failing to cope with the initial free-kick, Jordan Brown showed great desire and strength to get to the ball first. He then held off two defenders before laying the ball into the path of winger Djair Parfitt-Williams, who jinked past his marker to by-line and floated a delightful cross to the back post where Dan Potts did the rest.
Potts, 21, propelled himself towards the ball and sent an unstoppable bullet header into the top corner. The son of Steve Potts obviously has greater goal-scoring instincts than his Dad, who only managed one goal in over 500 appearances for West Ham.
And Potts continued his heroic antics at the other end of the pitch, saving us on three counts; firstly he was on hand to clear Jorge Intima’s low shot off the line, then he threw himself in the way of George Glendon’s volley and from the resulting corner, valiantly headed Jose Pozo’s goalbound drive clear.
Expecting Manchester City to come out all guns blazing in the second period, we were pleasantly surprised to see West Ham go in search of a second after the break. Potts came within inches of doubling his tally as he headed a Grady Diangana free-kick against the crossbar.
But the second incision came just moments later as the unfortunate Adam Drury inadvertently skewed Jordan Brown’s cross into the back of the net to give West Ham a two-goal cushion.
Predictably, this sparked Patrick Vieira’s side into life as they searched for a way back into the game. But with City throwing men forward relentlessly, they exposed themselves to a counter-attack and trialist Joe Ward was unlucky not to make it three when Angus Gunn rushed out to smother his chipped effort.
Manchester City then dominated possession and chances with Spiegel on hand to prevent Glendon from getting on the scoresheet before the inevitable breakthrough came. A long ball was floated over the top of West Ham’s defence and a momentary lapse in focus allowed Olivier Ntcham to bring it down in the area, pick his spot and find it.
With the deficit reduced to just one goal, West Ham were beginning to show signs of nervousness as both Jose Pozo and Tom Holland probably should have done better with their late opportunities.
West Ham continued to sit deep but were always threatening on the counter-attack. The impressive American youngster Parfitt-Williams ran dangerously at their defence and played a lovely ball to Jordan Brown, who couldn’t quite work the ball past Gunn to kill the contest.
As a result, City continued to press and had two fabulous chances to equalise at the death. Jorge Intima forced a fantastic reaction save from Spiegel before Pozo curled a 30 yard free-kick inches wide with Spiegel struggling.
West Ham held firm, however, and possibly (yet sadly unrealistically) launched the start of what could only be described as a great escape.
West Ham: Spiegel; Knoyle (Westley 85), Pask, Potts, Page; Ward (Pike 73), Makasi, Nasha (Mavila 76), Diangana, Parfitt-Williams; Brown. Unused: Bogard, Hector-Ingram
Man City: Gunn; Drury, Oliver, Smith-Brown, Horsfield; Intima, Glendon, Holland (Fernandes), Dilrosun (Nuttall), Ntcham; Pozo. Unused: O’Brien, Tattum, Bullock