Filed: Sunday, 12th July 2009
By: Staff Writer
A second half strike from Cristian Montano gave an understregth Hammers a winning start to pre-season.
Despite earlier reports suggesting that Gianfranco Zola would field a full-strength first team only Julien Faubert and James Collins had more than a handful of first team games under their respective belts from the starting XI.
The likes of Rob Green, James Tomkins, Matthew Upson, Scott Parker, Dean Ashton, Carlton Cole and Luis Jimenez were all excused duty ahead of this week's trip to Austria, for which the squad leaves London tomorrow.
Despite the weakened line-up the Hammers started well and both James Collins and recent arrival Eoin Wearen had chances in the opening minutes. United were then denied a penalty on the 10th minute mark when 16-year-old Wearen's effort clearly hit the arm of an Athletic defender although nothing was given.
However the Hammers didn't have to wait long before taking the lead; Zavon Hines, who missed a late sitter in the friendly here last pre-season made amends with a well taken effort from the edge of the box on the quarter hour mark. Anthony Edgar also deserved a mention for some excellent build-up play.
The lead was to prove short-lived however as former Tottenham trainee Jamie Slabber made a bit of a monkey out of James Collins just four minutes later. The Welsh international, and not for the first time in his career, was left flat-footed having been turned inside out by Slabber who made the most of the space his clever play had created by firing across Peter Kurucz into the far bottom corner.
No more goals ensued ahead of the break and it was to be a far different team that lined up for the second half. Of West Ham's original starting XI, only Edgar remained; Herita Ilunga and Jack Collison being the notable first team arrivals.
However it was to be one of Tony Carr's youngsters who stole the show in the second half. 18-year-old Cristian Montano, who hails from Columbia gave the Hammers a deserved win when he struck the winning goal on 73 minutes. Having found his way into the box, Montano saw his first effort blocked before slotting his second in the far corner.
A healthy travelling Hammers contingent were also treated to a cameo from 15-year-old striker Robert Hall, who gave the busy Edgar a rest for the final quarter-of-an-hour. Hall, who is set to feature for England's under 17s later this summer made a good impresssion and created three efforts on goal during his brief appearance on the field.
With many fans opting to stay away due to Grays' insistence on charging £20 admission fee (across the board once the first 400 concessions had been sold) the 5,000 capacity New Rec was almost half empty, although the Conference club will no doubt be happy from the bumper gate receipts.
Next up for the Hammers is the friendly against Austrian outfit Flavia Solva in Wagna this coming Wednesday evening - the first of four games Zola's side are set to play on their two-week tour.
Grays Athletic 1 West Ham United 2: match facts
West Ham United: Kurucz (Stech 46), Faubert (Spence 46), N'Gala (Eyjolfsson 46), Collins (Gabbidon 46), Fry (Ilunga 46), Grasser (Lee 46), Payne (Okus 46), Dyer (Collison 46), Wearen (Lee 46), Edgar (Hall 76), Hines (Montano 46).
Subs not used: None.
Goals: Hines (15), Montano (73).
Grays Athletic: Nichols (Kitteridge 84), McSweeney (Francis 60), Haswell (McKie 60), McKoy (Archer 76), Thomas, Lovett, McLeod (Elenge 76), Vernazza (Toms 76), Slabber (Hunt 76), Brayley (Dumbaya 60), Makofo.
Subs not used: Saviger.
Goals: Slabber (22).
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