Wordsworth on target but West Ham edge out U’s
Colchester United 1 West Ham 2
A CROWD of nearly 8,000 enjoyed an entertaining pre-season friendly at the Weston Homes Community Stadium this afternoon, with Premier League visitors West Ham recording a narrow win.
First-half goals from Nicky Maynard and Mark Noble (penalty) put the Hammers in the driving seat, only for Anthony Wordsworth to score a classy goal for the U’s just before half-time.
It was a far more low-key second period, with the U’s rarely looking like fashioning an equaliser, until Michael Rose and Drey Wright peppered the target late on.
The U’s started brightly and West Ham old boy Freddie Sears, who is still only 21, warmed Jussi Jaaskelainen’s hands with a rasping shot that the Hammers keeper parried with strong hands.
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The hosts threatened again on 11 minutes. This time Wordsworth headed narrowly wide of the far post.
West Ham had lost their influential midfielder Kevin Nolan early on, due to injury, but they soon gained the initiative and went ahead in the 19th minute.
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Gary O’Neil enjoyed acres of space down the right wing, and his cross was headed down by Carlton Cole for Maynard to lash home from 10 yards out.
The Hammers had the ball in the back of the net for a second time, just three minutes later, only for Kazim Richards’ cheeky back-heel to be ruled out for offside.
Richards continued to look impressive and Mark Cousins had to dive low to his right to smother the attacker’s angled shot in the 28th minute.
The East Londoners doubled their lead in the 36th minute. Magnus Okuonghae clearly hauled down Maynard, inside the box, and Noble crashed home the spot kick high into the net.
But the U’s finished the first half strongly. Clinton Morrison, who had signed just five days ago, nearly squeezed home a header from Wordsworth’s corner. Jaaskelainen smothered down on his haunches.
And Wordsworth did halve the deficit in the 43rd minute, thanks to a classy finish.
Wordsworth initially released John Joe-O’Toole, with the Hammers defence dithering. O’Toole was closed down before he could shoot, but he was still able to slip through a low cross for Wordsworth to flick home from the edge of the six-yard box with an outstretched boot.
There was the usual flurry of substitutions during the second half – U’s most recent recruit, Morrison, was replaced after an hour.
Fellow front-runner Sears was perhaps unlucky not to win a penalty in the 63rd minute. He appeared to be chopped down by right-back Guy Demel, but referee Mr Russell was not convinced.
Cousins saved smartly, at the feet of Maynard, to deny West Ham a third goal, while Michael Rose was not far adrift late on with a long-range shot for the U’s.
There was still time for Drey Wright to shave a post with an opportunist effort in the dying minutes.
COLCHESTER UNITED: Cousins, Wilson (sub White, 67), Okuonghae (sub Aldred, 81), Eastman (sub Heath, 60), Coker, Duguid (sub Henderson 46), Bean (sub Izzet, 60), O’Toole (sub Bond, 60), Wordsworth (sub Rose, 67), Sears (sub Gilbey 67), Morrison (Sub Wright, 60).
WEST HAM: Jaaselainen, Demel (sub Spence, 75), Reid, McCartney, Taylor, Noble, O’Neil, Nolan (sub Potts, 5), Maynard, Cole (sub Mohsni, 62), Richards (sub Vaz Te, 46).
Referee: Mr M Russell