First half strikes from Jim Stevenson give the Hatters a 2-1 win
Town Development 2-1 West Ham Development
Two fine first-half goals from Jim Stevenson and a late penalty save from Elliot Justham helped the Town development squad beat West Ham at Kenilworth Road.
Stevenson, who later limped out of the game midway through the second period, opened the scoring on 16 minutes when he finished high into the roof of the net following Matt Robinson’s cut-back before doubling his and the Town’s tally on the half-hour with a stunning goal from the edge of the box.
The Hammers, who included internationals George McCartney and Alou Diarra in their starting XI, halved the deficit six minutes after half-time when Blair Turgott fired home from six yards.
However, Justham was the Town’s hero when he prevented Turgott from netting an equaliser for the Hammers when the goalkeeper saved the lively winger’s penalty on 84 minutes after Arnaud Mendy had fouled Pelly Ruddock-Mpanzu in the box.
The Hatters began with former Juventus right-back Andrea Pisani at right-back but first team coach Hakan Hayrettin was forced into an early change when Alex Wall limped off with a hamstring injury in the third minute.
After riding early pressure from the visitors the Town took the lead in the 16th minute when Stevenson took Robinson’s clever square pass to rifle home from 12 yards.
Half chances came and went for the Hatters before Stevenson doubled the lead on the half-an-hour mark when he thundered home a superb strike from the edge of the box having taken another pass from Robinson.
West Ham rallied as half-time approached. Justham kept out a drive from Matthias Famino on 36 minutes before the same player sent a shot from distance flying over the crossbar five minutes later.
The Hammers hit the post on the stroke of half-time but the visitors did pull a goal back six minutes after the restart when Turgott tapped home from six yards after Justham failed to hold onto a left-wing cross.
However, the Hatters almost restored their two-goal margin on 63 minutes when Stevenson spurned the chance for his hat-trick when nodding wide Solomon Taiwo’s teasing left-wing cross.
Goal hero Stevenson left the field in some discomfort on crutches on 68 minutes with a foot injury and seconds later Mark Cullen flashed a shot on the turned just wide of the post.
West Ham upped the ante as they went in search of an equaliser, and it looked as though the Premier League side would grab a draw six minutes from the end when substitute Mendy fouled Ruddock-Mpanzu in the penalty area. However, Justham dived to his left to keep out Turgott’s spot-kick.
The Iron continued to push for an equaliser but the Hatters held onto record their ninth win in 10 development games this season.
TOWN: Justham, Pisani, Longden, Maduako, Parry, Stevenson (sub Mendy 67), Taiwo, Cullen, Wall (sub Ahoua 4 (sub Viana 46)), O'Donnell (sub Martin 46), Robinson. Subs not used: Mbala, King.
WEST HAM: Spiegel, Nasha (sub Makasi 72), McCartney (sub Shaw 46), Diarra (sub Whitehead 72), Potts, Ruddock-Mpanzu, Turgott, Miles (sub Tombides 72), Maguire, Fanimo (sub Knoyle 72), Sadlier (sub Bywater 78). Subs not used: Howes, Burke, Cullen.