Written by Jack Lebeau

West Ham U21 started this season’s Checkatrade Trophy campaign with a thrilling 3-2 away win over professional League Two side Swindon Town.

It was an absolutely incredible game at the County Ground resulting in no less than five goals, two disallowed goals, the woodwork hit three times, a red card and a few controversial referee decisions!

West Ham U21 lined up 4-2-3-1 with new boy Haksabanovic playing out wide right, Holland on the other wing and the returning Quina in DM. Makasi retained the captaincy from the 0-0 draw with Everton U23.

West Ham U21 started the better side with a good couple of early chances. This was shown with Samuelsen grabbing a goal after six minutes when he nicked the ball off the defender, then rounded the keeper before cooly slotting home into the back of the net. West Ham U21 continued to dominate their professional opponents, with impressive debutant Haksabanovic hitting the bar with a beautiful curling shot shortly after going 1-0 up.

Within the next 20 minutes, Haksabanovic & Martinez both had brilliant chances to extend West Ham’s lead but the former forced the goalkeeper into a good save whilst the latter shot just wide after some brilliant movement from Holland. Swindon had the ball in the back of the net too but the linesman correctly called out for offside.

The last 15 minutes of the first half brought little to write about and West Ham entered the break very deservedly 1-0 up. Immediately after half-time the referee controversies started to begin.

Firstly, the referee awards a correct free-kick just outside the box to Swindon for hand-ball. Except just as Swindon are about to take the free-kick, he changes his mind and rules it as a penalty – despite not talking to his linesman at all. Swindon stepped up and sent Trott the wrong way for 1-1.

Then within a minute of kick-off, the ball had ended up sitting still dead on the side-line, then the linesman crazily flagged for a throw-in. Despite the referee not blowing his whistle & giving the throw-in, one of Swindon’s defenders picked the ball up. As it was right in front of the away fans, everyone stood up and was screaming at the referee for hand-ball. Luckily, he correctly awarded West Ham with a free-kick! But he was quickly losing control of the game and this was just the beginning of awful decisions because the referee John Busby also failed to book one of Swindon’s players for pushing one of West Ham’s during this fiasco.

Five minutes later the referee gave a free-kick to West Ham just outside the box, but very evidently only got the wall to move back 7 yards instead of the required 10. Shortly after, West Ham made the first sub of the game with Diangana replacing Quina, who definitely wasn’t up to his usual standards tonight.

Just before the 75th minute mark and West Ham had regained the lead to make it 2-1. The ball dropped to Makasi about 8 yards out and he managed to curl the ball home past the keeper into the bottom corner. Straight after the goal and it was time for very impressive debutant Haksabanovic to come off for Dan Kemp. Dan Kemp was barely on the pitch two minutes though when one of Swindon’s players rose high to head home an equaliser for 2-2.

Martinez had been a nightmare for the defenders all night long and it looked like he had finally got the goal he deserved when he rounded the keeper to score, but the linesman was quick to rule that one out for offside.

It didn’t take long for West Ham to take back control of the scores though with substitute Dan Kemp tapping home from three yards on the rebound from Martinez hitting the post. Six minutes were added on at the end of full-time but West Ham had to try to hold on with ten men after left-back Neufville had been sent off for two yellow cards. The game certainly wasn’t over with Trott having to make an excellent save from the resulting free-kick to keep West Ham in-front!

The full-time whistle blew though & West Ham U21 had deservedly won 3-2! My Man of the Match had to be Samuelsen, he controlled the game going forward and created an endless amount of chances. Closely followed by Haksabanovic, Holland & Makasi but everyone was good tonight, with the exception of Quina who was probably lacking a bit of match fitness.