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West Ham u21s 2 Rovers u21s 1

27 January 2016

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Rovers went out of the U21 Premier League Cup after losing an entertaining match with West Ham United 2-1.

All the goals came in the first half at Rush Green, the Hammers racing into a two-goal lead as Djair Parfitt-Williams's close-range strike was followed up a Reece Oxford header.

But Anton Forrester, who had earlier struck the bar, gave Rovers a lifeline when he pulled a goal back just before half-time.

Both sides had opportunities in the second half, Andy Fisher saving well to deny Moses Makasi, before a sensational stop four minutes from time by Sam Howes kept out a fierce Connor Mahoney effort to ensure it was West Ham who progressed through to the last four of the competition.

It was the home side that started the brighter of the two at Romford, forcing Rovers goalkeeper Andy Fisher into an early save. Josh Cullen's corner from the right came out to Leo Chambers who struck low but Fisher turned the ball behind.

Rovers then saw penalty claims waved away when Connor Mahoney's cutback struck a Hammers body, before a free-kick from the winger met the head of Forrester but the ball landed on the top of the bar and went behind.

But with just under 20 minutes gone at Rush Green it was West Ham who grabbed the opening goal of the game. 

Jaanai Gordon showed good strength to turn Scott Wharton on the edge of the area and although the forward couldn't get his shot away Djair Parfitt-Williams was on hand to fire home.

Rovers looked to get back into the game but it was the Hammers who grabbed a second goal on 35 minutes.

Cullen sent a corner to the edge of the box to where Reece Oxford connected strongly, but it was still somewhat of a surprise when the ball crept past a host of bodies and into the back of the net.

Rovers almost responded straight away as David Carson caught Cullen in possession to advance into the area, but he couldn't find Connor Thomson with his centre.

But a minute before the break Rovers did manage to cut the deficit with a swift counter-attack.

Sam Lavelle took full advantage of a poor back-heel from Marcus Browne to send Mahoney racing away on the right and Forrester did well to time his run to perfection to meet the pass and fire home.

However West Ham should have made it 3-1 as the first half went into added time, Gordon blazing over when well-placed.

A flurry of bookings and fouls meant that there was little in the way of attacking football played in the early stages of the second half.

In an attempt to add more forward impetus, Devarn Green replaced Joe Rankin-Costello on the hour mark.

But on 65 defensive hesitancy by Ryan Nyambe almost proved costly as he was caught on the ball by Moses Makasi, but Fisher pulled off a superb one-handed save.

Then a swift break from a Rovers corner saw George Dobson race upfield, he pulled the ball back from the byline for Gordon but the forward could only find the side-netting.

Yet Rovers should have been back on level terms on 75 minutes. An in-swinging corner from Mahoney was missed at the near post but Lavelle didn't anticipate the ball arriving and the chance was gone.

Four minutes from time Rovers were thwarted by a superb save from Hammers keeper Sam Howes. Mahoney, cutting in from the right, let fly with a fierce left-foot shot, but the West Ham man kept the ball out in sensational fashion, diving to his left to save one-handed and with it ensured the Hammers would progress through to the last four of the U21 Premier League Cup.

WEST HAM: Howes, Pike, Neufville, Dobson, Chambers, Oxford (c), Browne (sub Nasha 46 mins), Makasi, Gordon (sub Belic 90 mins), Cullen, Parfitt-Williams.

Subs  not used: Kemp, Brown (GK), Rice

Goals: Parfitt-Williams 18 mins, Oxford 35 mins.

Booked: Browne, Oxford.

ROVERS: Fisher, Nyambe, Askew, Tomlinson, Lavelle (c), Wharton, Mahoney, Rankin-Costello (sub Green 60 mins), Forrester, Carson, Thomson (sub Rittenberg 80 mins).

Subs: Platt, Crump (GK), Hardcastle.

Goals: Forrester 44 mins.

Booked: Rankin-Costello, Tomlinson, Thomson.

Attendance: 680

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