Filed: Wednesday, 20th July 2011
By: Staff Writer
West Ham recorded their first win under Sam Allardyce with a smash and grab raid in Denmark tonight.
And toast of the East End this evening is young striker Freddie Sears, who scored the only goal of the game with just two minutes left on the clock to give the Irons an impressive win against a side who will play in the Champions League next season.
Although the game was, for the most, a classic pre-season friendly with hard challenges being restricted to a minimum - with perhaps the exception of Luis Boa Morte, who only knows one way to play - both sides had their fair share of chances to record a win.
Prior to Sears' late winner West Ham had gone close with first half efforts from captain Kevin Nolan and James Tomkins. However United's best chance of the game had fallen to Copenhagen's number seven, who directed Mark Noble's dipping free kick towards his own goal - only to be spared embarrassment by a stunning tip over from 'keeper Wiland.
The home side, who are far more advanced in their own pre-season flattered to deceive at times but still created a hatful of chances that should have been enough to see them win the game. Indeed, they had the ball in the net on two occasions but both were correctly ruled out - firstly for offside and then for a foul (on Ruud Boffin).
However the biggest culprit for the Danes was half time sub Morten Nordstrand who missed three gilt-edged opportunites in the second half to put the game beyond West Ham long before Sears popped up to grab the game's only goal.
That goal - which came less than two minutes from the end of normal time - gave a long-overdue glimpse at what the previously-prolific Sears, who has endured such a barren spell in front of goal since breaking through to the first team in 2008, is capable of.
Collecting the ball just outside the box - Cristian Montano the provider having initially received a long ball from Jordan Spence - Sears allowed the ball to run across his body in order to make space before bursting into the box free of his marker.
Feigning to place the ball on Wiland's left side, Sears instead cleverly clipped the ball across the goalkeeper into an empty net with his right foot - the instinctive touch of a striker, and one that bore a significant resemblance to Michel Owen in his prime. Here's hoping that's the first of many we see this coming season.
All in all it was a competent performance from Allardyce's side, who impressed particularly with their pressing in the opposition half - a marked difference from last season when, more often than not, Avram Grant's side were prepared to defend in the final third alone.
Next up for Allardyce and West Ham is the rather shorter trip to Wycombe, where they face the Wanderers this coming Saturday.
FC Copenhagen 0 West Ham United 1: match facts
West Ham United: Green (Boffin 46), Faubert (Spence 70), Reid, Tomkins, Ilunga, Noble, Nolan (Brown 60), Parker (O'Brien 60), Collison (Sears 60), Boa Morte (Montano 76), Piquionne (Nouble 70).
Subs not used: None.
Goals: Sears (88).
FC Copenhagen: Wiland, Thomsen (Ozdogan 46), Zanka (c), Sigurdsson, Bengtsson (Oviedo 46), Bolanos (Toutouh 79), de Souza (Absalonsen 46), Grindheim (Delaney 72), Diouf (Zohore 85), Santin (Kristensen 46), N'Doye (Nordstrand 46).
Subs not used: Christensen, Bergvold, Thomas, Lindbjerg.
Hammers linked with Danish striker [9th Aug 2013]
West Ham off to Sweden? [14th Mar 2013]
Rumours aplenty [3rd Jul 2012]
Pre-season pitch minutes: final table [1st Aug 2011]
Pre-season player watch [28th Jul 2011]
Dagenham & Redbridge 0 West Ham Utd 1 [26th Jul 2011]
Wycombe 0 West Ham Utd 0 [23rd Jul 2011]
Squad watch: pre-season update [21st Jul 2011]
Allardyce looking to loan market [21st Jul 2011]