Cheltenham Town 0 West Ham United 2
Wednesday, 23rd August 2017
by David Fletcher
West Ham finally get their season up and running after a relatively smooth 2-0 victory against League 2 opposition Cheltenham in Round 2 of the Carabao Cup.It was a slow start from both sides. If anyone was making an impression, it was a well-drilled Cheltenham side who frustrated the Hammers by keeping their shape in defence and holding the ball up well, much to the delight of the home crowd.
However, the West Ham fans didn't lose faith despite their lacklustre team and kept their singing nice and loud, delighted with the performance of their young star Declan Rice who was shining bright early on, showing his defensive prowess aswell as being cool headed and forever making himself available asking for the ball.
The Hammers soon pulled it together and although there were numerous misunderstandings going forward, they created a pair of quick chances. Angelo Ogbonna getting his powerful header cleared off the line and in the resulting counter-attack following Cheltenham's defesive clearance, Diafra Sakho's effort was saved by Jonathan Pratt.
It was all pointing to a stalemate going into half time, but West Ham capitulated on their period of domination with two quick goals. First Mark Noble dismantled the Cheltenham back four with a precise pass to Sakho who with a weak finish was able to beat Flatt in the Cheltenham goal.
Just a few minutes later, West Ham doubled their lead, sucking the life out of the Cheltenham side and their fans with a three pass move started off by Pedro Obiang who found Sakho on the edge of the opposing penalty box, who in turn flicked it on to Andr?(C) Ayew who slotted it comfortably into the far corner.
Early in the second half it was more of the same for the East London side who maintained posession with ease. Their time on the ball certainly wasn't in vain with James Collins going inches away from a birthday goal when his header was slightly deflected over.
Nonetheless it was far from plain sailing, and though it took them a long time, Cheltenhan got their grip on the second half just shy of the hour mark. James Collins and Angelo Ogbonna were called upon on a couple of occassions and Adri??n had to block a rare Cheltenham effort.
Moments later, West Ham found themselves on the wrong end of a creditable penalty claim that surfaced when Arthur Masuaku blatantly pushed Mohamed Eisa, yet protests were waved away.
From then on it's far from an overstatement to say that the Hammers cruised to victory. They went close on a number of occasions including a cheeky curling effort from Ayew. And when the pressure was on, Collins was constantly on the case, heading clear time after time to seal West Ham's first clean sheet and all important victory of the new season.
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Player RatingsAdrian San Miguel Del Castillo
Barely had a save to make but when called upon didn't make any mistakes.
Looked sharp and bright early on, producing great through balls and defending well, but unfortunately lost his touch as the game wore on.
Started off poorly, continuously attempting to dribble his way out of defence only to be caught in possession. However in the second half he made the correct decisions and still maintained his flair in more attacking positions.
Did what was expected of him, keep the Cheltenham attackers quiet and get on the end of West Ham set pieces, combined perfectly with the notable presence of James Collins.
The figurehead in the West Ham defence, preventing danger all through the ninety minutes with clearences, blocks and important tackles. Was also a threat in attack.
Another consistent performance from the academy starlet. Always asking for the ball, tracking back and coming out on top in crucial duels. A great shout for Man of the Match.
A reliable figure in midfield, always making accurate passes and successfully dribbling his way out of tight spots. Must correct the errors that still creep into his game.
Back to his old ways after a poor showing at Old Trafford. A consistent performance from the man from Alcal?? de Henares.
Rarely showed his face, clearly playing out of position on the wing as opposed to a more creative role in midfield.
Was also on the end of a few chances, getting in some good positions and a strong presence up top.
Snatched a goal and a constant attacking threat with his skills and forward runs causing havoc at the back for Cheltenham.
(Replaced Sakho) Very good holding up the ball and was full of energy popping up in all sorts of positions.
(Replaced Noble) Nice to see him back. Very comfortable on the ball and an overall physical powerhouse in midfield.
(Replaced Fernandes) Barely featured.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Match FactsWest Ham United: Adrian San Miguel Del Castillo, Sam Byram, Arthur Masuaku, Angelo Ogbonna, James Collins, Declan Rice, Mark Noble, Pedro Obiang, Edimilson Fernandes, Diafra Sakho, Andre Ayew.
Goals: Diafra Sakho 40 Andre Ayew 43 .
Sent Off: Marko Arnautovic 33 .
Cheltenham Town: Flatt, Grimes, Cranston, Atangana, Storer, Pell, Wright, Winchester, Boyle, Eisa, Forster.
Subs not used: Lovett, O’Shaughnessy, Bower, Thomas.
Sent off: None.
Referee: Oliver Langford.
Man of the Match: James Collins.