Fri 17
First Team
West Ham United XI
Clarets Tested By Hammers

Clarets Tested By Hammers

By Adam May
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THE CLARETS gave it their all in a challenging pre-season fixture against a West Ham United XI.

Mark Hawkes’ side were undone by a fantastic first-half strike from Nathan Mavila before Jordan Brown added two in quick succession after the hour mark. Former Claret loanee Jaanai Gordon then rounded off proceedings with a cool finish late on as the Hammers dominated the second-half.

With City boss Mark Hawkes already making five new signings since the end of last season this match against a young and talented West Ham side was a welcome test.

Youngster Reece Oxford – who has already captained England U17s and alerted Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United – put City’s forward line of Billy Bricknell and Hugo Skepelhorn through their paces with an assured performance at the heart of West Ham’s defence.

With one win and one defeat in their first two pre-season outings, the Clarets were looking to improve on their slack defending which ultimately cost them in the 4-3 defeat to Canvey Island earlier in the week.

And the Clarets almost made the perfect start when a trialist whipped in a corner, only for Bricknell to nod it against the foot of the post.

The Hammers looked a little shaken by City’s early display of attacking intent with a number of passes going awry. They did, however, have a chance to take the lead when Josh Cullen’s lofted ball split the defence in two. The ball fell nicely to the feet of former Claret Jaanai Gordon whose initial touch was promising, but he shanked his strike wide while Ashley Timms remained untroubled.

While West Ham settled from that moment on they were almost undone by a neat interchange between Skepelhorn and Bricknell. The former played a neat one-two before finding himself one-on-one with Matt Sarkic. His final shot was straight at the young ‘keeper who smothered the shot well.

Sam Westley – formerly of Birmingham and Stoke – then let fly on a rasping shot that tested Timms for the first time in the match. The ‘keeper – who spent last season at fellow Vanarama National League South side Maidenhead – was at full-stretch as he managed to tip it over the bar with the strike destined for the top corner.

Bricknell then lobbed the ball into the net shortly after, only to be denied by the offside flag.

For all of City’s assured passing and impressive play it was the Hammers who took the lead seven minutes prior to the interval. A short corner from Jack Hallagan resulted in Nathan Mavila nipping inside before curling a beautiful shot inside the far post and beyond the outstretched arms of Timms.

It was harsh on the Clarets who will undoubtedly be pleased with their first-half display, but they were ultimately undone by a moment of brilliance by the pacy winger.

The second-half, as is the case with many pre-season friendlies, became fragmented and rigid, but the Clarets were almost caught on the counter attack just shy of the hour mark.

Some good work in the middle by Jaanai Gordon – who scored five goals in ten appearances while on loan at the Melbourne Stadium last season – laid the ball off to the overlapping Kyle Knoyle. The full-back then sprayed the ball out wide to Jordan Brown, but the striker’s cross was too weighty for Gordon and the Clarets eventually hooked the ball clear.

Substitutions were then aplenty with the Hammers making no fewer than five changes at once, and from then on the Clarets lost their way, allowing the Hammers to dominate.

The Clarets were caught in possession with Jordan Brown playing a quick one-two with substitute Marcus Browne before slotting underneath the body of the advancing Timms to double their lead.

Three minutes later the Hammers found themselves coasting and had a further goal to show for it. Brown picked the ball up from 25-yards out before firing a thunderous shot past Timms. The ‘keeper looked to have got a hand to it but struggled with the pace of the ball as it nestled into the back of the net.

Gordon then added a fourth with seven minutes remaining, coolly slotting home after catching Hector-Ingram’s cross from the right.

While the result may not look too pleasing on the eye the Clarets can be proud of their efforts and, with the away trip to Heybridge Swifts around the corner, Hawkes and his squad will have plenty to build upon after their hard-fought display.

Chelmsford City Starting XI: Timms, Trialist, Ekpiteta, Haines, Toner, Trialist, Trialist, Hughes, Henry, Skepelhorn, Bricknell.

West Ham United Starting XI: Sarkic, Knoyle, Westley, Cullen, Pask, Oxford, Mavila, Nasha, Gordon, Brown, Hallaghan.

HT Score: 0-1.

Scorers: Chelmsford City: None.
West Ham United: Nathan Mavila (38), Jordan Brown (65, 68), Jaanai Gordon (83)

Attendance: 1,307.

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Match details

Match date

Fri 17, Jul 2015