Barnet 2-1 West Ham United XI
Brian Jeeves reporting from the Hive London
A YOUTHFUL West Ham United side gave a good account of themselves before slipping to a narrow 2-1 defeat at the hands of Sky Bet League Two outfit, Barnet, in an entertaining pre-season friendly at the Hive London
The Hammers went into the match without the services of goalkeeper Nathan Trott and attacking-midfielder Domingos Quina who were facing each other in the UEFA Euro under 19’s final between England and Portugal in Gori, Georgia. Meanwhile, no less than six other from the under 23 squad had linked up with the first team at their training camp in Austria.
Barnet, preparing ahead of the new Sky Bet League Two season, had already claimed a Premier League scalp during their warm-up, having seen off a strong Swansea City side four days previous thanks to a goal from seasoned campaigner, John Akinde. This certainly wasn’t going to be a cakewalk for the Young Hammers, and so it proved.
Joe Powell forced a smart save from Bee’s goalkeeper, Jamie Stephens, while skipper Alex Pike was wayward as the Hammers created the first opportunities of the contest. Meanwhile, Jack Taylor was a whisker away for the home side, firing over from just outside the box after former Southend United man, Jamal Campbell-Ryce, had fashioned the opening.
Campbell-Ryce tested Hammers Latvian youth international keeper, Rihards Matrevics, while John Akinde’s low centre was swept to safety as the home side began to probe with greater purpose. Indeed, Barnet should have taken the lead when Fumnaya Shomotun twice passed up decent opportunities, this after the frontman had found himself with a clear sight of goal.
West Ham rallied. Trialist Julian Kristoffersen perhaps should have done better, heading wide from close range following Pike’s pinpoint centre. However, shortly before the interval, Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro delightfully lifted the ball over Matrevics to find the net via the inside of an upright and hand the home side a deserved lead.
Barnet almost doubled their advantage right at the start of the second period. Substitute Westley Fonguck’s thundering effort was brilliantly tipped over by Matrevics, then Akpa Akpro blazed over with only the Hammers stopper to beat.
However, the home side were firmly in control, and when Shomotun played in Akinde, the striker made no mistake with a crisp right-footed finish from twelve yards.
Nevertheless, West Ham showed resilience and with just under twenty-minutes remaining, they gave themselves a lifeline. England under 20’s star Dan Kemp tip-toed through the Barnet back line before teeing up Reece Hannam who neatly found the net with an angled effort.
Anthony Scully sent a late dead-ball effort the wrong side of an upright as West Ham pressed for a share of the spoils. However, they almost fell further behind when Simeon Akinola twice wriggled clear, only to be denied by Matrevics on both occasions.
Despite this defeat, there were plenty of positives from the Hammers youngsters.
Speaking after the match, West Ham’s Academy manager, Terry Westley, said: “It was our first game back whereas it was Barnet’s third game so you’d expect them to be a bit sharper but overall I was pleased, particularly with how we started.
“We popped the ball around very well. Vashon [Neufville] was back to his best, Dan Kemp had a huge impact on the game and Reece Hannam got the goal. Tunji Akinola also impressed me, so it was a good game to get under our belts.”
Westley added: “Winning our league last year and going up against bigger clubs means that the expectations goes up for our players.
“You play at a higher standard and therefore our standard has to go up. Today, we raised our game against a good side and I’m very satisfied.”
West Ham United are next in action on Tuesday, July 18 when they take on Colchester United at the Weston Homes Community Stadium (7:45pm).
Barnet: Jamie Stephens (Craig Ross 60’), Elliott Johnson (Richard Brindley 60’), Charlie Clough (David Tutonda 60’), Ricardo Almeida Santos (Simeon Akinola 60’), Curtis Weston (Nana Kyei 60’), John Akinde (Alex Nicholls 60’), Jamal Campbell-Ryce (Capt) (Dan Sweeney 60’), Jack Taylor (Westley Fonguck 19’), Harry Taylor (Darnell Smith 60’), Fumnaya Shomotun (Justin Amaluzor 60’), Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro (Joe Payne 60’)
Goals: Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro 39’, John Akinde 60’
West Ham United: Rihards Matrevics, Alex Pike (Capt) (Jeremy Ngakia 60’), Vashon Neufville (Reece Hannam 60’), Conor Coventry (Oriol Rey 46’), Tunji Akinola, Ajibola Alese (Ben Wells 60’), Dan Kemp, Joe Powell (Anthony Scully 46’), Julian Kristofferson (Korrey Henry 67’), Grady Diangana (Kristjian Belic 60’), Jaanai Gordon (Jahmal Hector-Ingram 46’) Subs not used: Tyler Forde
Goals: Reece Hannam 72’
Referee: Craig Hicks
Assistants: Gavin Muge and Ivan Gelov
Fourth Official: Mick Russell