Young Hammers Held By Hawks
An almost completely new Harlow team put in an efficient performance to keep a clean sheet against a slick and energetic West Ham youth side.
by Callum Hibberd
Harlow started brightly, with their first attack coming in the second minute. Christian Adu Gyamfi and Leyton Orient loanee Charles Clayton exchanged passes in the middle. Clayton slipped it wide to left-back Laurence Vaughan. His cross was promising, but both Syrus Gordon and Gyamfi were offside in trying to reach it.
Then, two minutes later, Fabion Simms cut out a promising cross from Longelo, and sent an impressive through ball to Gyamfi, who shot first time, but was just wide.
West Ham youngsters Sypridis, Watson and Longelo showed their skill in the fifth minute with a silky counter, but Longelo’s shot was easily gathered by David Hughes.
Paul Rodgers was persistent down the right hand side all game, and his seventh minute cross should have been put away by Elan Assiana
In to the 11th minute, Simms did well to hold possession in the middle, laying it off to an eager Clayton. The winger gave it to Syrus Gordon in the box. His shot was weak, but the crowd were encouraged by Harlow’s efficient counterattacking.
Attacking midfielder Hector Kyraphious, another Orient loanee, who was getting involved in both ends, teed up Gyamfi well in the 19th minute, but the striker’s shot was weak.
The West Ham youngsters were showing their ability to knock the ball about, but Wilson Carvalho and Vaughan were showing their own capability on the left, the latter’s powerful cross had to be turned away by Okotcha in the 22nd minute.
Harlow’s best chance of the first half came after 30 minutes. Vaughan whipped in a free kick from the left, and Gyamfi crouched well to get his head under it. The effort was looping into the top left, but Hammers XI goalie Jinadu stretched himself really well to tap it over the bar.
Kyraphious continued to be impressive on his club debut, surging into the opposition box during minute 37, he laid it off to Gordon, who shot wide from a favourable position.
West Ham had two promising attacks with six minutes left. Former Ajax player El Mhassani put in a cross for Longelo, and his dangerous header was blocked for a corner. Another corner followed that, and Watson unleashed a piledriver of a shot which Hughes could only tip over. The ball was worked to Longelo on the far left, who glided last Rodgers and gave it to El Mhassani, who turned, shimmied and almost passed it into the bottom right corner. He was certainly West Ham’s most threatening player of the first half.
Harlow’s last attack of the first half came with 2 minutes to go. Clayton recovered a terrible pass on the halfway line before turning Hannam, then displaying great vision to lay it off to Rodgers. The right back surged down the wing and crossed it into Gyamfi, who’s header was just an inch too high.
HALF-TIME: Harlow Town 0 - West Ham XI 0
Harlow got a first shot off two minutes into the second half. Clayton impressively controlled a goal kick on the right touchline, before laying it off to Charlie Edwards, who shot way over.
Hughes was called into action in the 50th minute, and as usual, delivered. His intelligence to rush out and then leave a trailing hand behind him denied El Mhassani, who had controlled a nice lay off from Rosa on his right.
Jinadu made an equally impressive save of his own two minutes later. Rodgers made good progress down the right, and Edwards shot from close range at the byline. The shot was spilled to substitute Timothy Obisanya, but Jinadu made another good save to deny the young striker from close range.
Harlow didn’t stop there, particularly Jason Raad, who was very lively off the bench, and impressed the fans with his footwork. He was the instigator of a brilliant Harlow chance in the 63rd minute. His pinpoint cross into Obisanya was laid off to Kyraphious, who’s finessed shot was blocked off the line.
As the game went on, it became clear that both teams were happy to play free-flowing football, but were lacking any real end product. For example, Assiana’s header at a corner on 70’ should’ve really been tapped in by a team mate, but it trickled into the hands of Jinadu instead. The hosts threatened again 2 minutes later, Vaughan’s high cross was claimed by Jinadu but Obisanya got very close to it.
West Ham took control of the game from here, and nearly scored in the 74th minute, a cross from right back Ngakia glaring past Longelo and Rosa.
Harlow triallist Fez nearly had fans on their feet in the 78th minute, bursting down the right and shooting from range, only just missing the top left corner. That proved to be the last real chance of the game, Rosa and Longelo forcing two easy saves out of Hughes in the last ten minutes of the game.
The full-time whistle brought applause from all fans, showing their appreciation for what was an entertaining game, despite the lack of goals.
FULL-TIME: Harlow Town 0 - West Ham United XI 0
Harlow are at home against Hertford on Saturday for their final pre season fixture, with the game kicking off at 3PM.
Team Lineups (All subs used)
HARLOW TOWN: Hughes; Paul Rodgers, Denzil Conteh, Elan Assiana, Laurence Vaughan; Fabion Simms, Syrus Gordon; Wilson Carvalho, Hector Kyraphious, Charles Clayton; Christian Adu Gyamfi
Subs: Nana Morfo, Jason Raad, Fez, Yannick Kissi, Charlie Edwards, Kaya Alli
West Ham XI: Jinadu; Ngakia, Forson, Dalipi, Hannam, Okotcha, Watson, Rosa, Sypridis, El Mhasani, Longelo
Subs: Greenidge, Kileba, Hinds, Giddings, Parkes