In an entertaining evening celebrating Greg Taylor’s ten-year tenure at the Abbey Stadium, Premier League outfit West Ham United secured a 2-4 victory over valiant Cambridge United...
The U’s took the lead on the half an hour mark through Zeno Ibsen Rossi, but they were immediately cancelled out by Jarrod Bowen’s fierce strike. An unfortunate own goal handed the Hammers the lead on the stroke of half-time, before Said Benrahma and Pierre Ekwah put the visitors into the ascendency. In a fitting conclusion to his testimonial, Taylor concluded the scoring late on from the spot for his side, who had given an excellent account of themselves.
Head Coach Mark Bonner named six changes from the defeat to Forest Green Rovers three days earlier. Taylor returned to captain his side, partnered by Ibsen Rossi, who made his first appearance since suffering a hamstring injury. Elsewhere, Lewis Simper, Jack Lankester, Saikou Janneh and Sam Smith returned to action.
In an energetic start, United kicked the ball around with confidence - crafting a good opportunity within the opening minute when Janneh marauded towards the box and fired wide of goal.
Growing into the game, the Hammers piled on the pressure with two quickfire attempts on the 20th minute. First, Pablo Fornals drilled a shot wide from under 25 yards, before Bowen lashed an attempt from the far right past Will Mannion’s right post.
The U’s took the lead on the stroke of the half an hour mark when Harvey Knibbs latched onto Simper’s floating corner, paving the way for Ibsen Rossi to crack home his first goal in amber from a matter of yards.
The advantage lasted the solitary minute as the Premier League outfit conjured up an immediate reply through Bowen, who fired a fierce right-footed shot into the top corner from 15 yards.
Straight up the other end, the lively Janneh connected with a lofted cross well by volleying at an alert Lukasz Fabiasnki on 32.
An entertaining first half of football was concluded with an unfortunate own goal from Simper on the 43rd minute, who put into his own net following Emerson’s teasing cross towards Michail Antonio.
Coming out of the blocks in an encouraging manner, Bonner’s men increased their attempt tally on 54 when Ben Worman fizzed at Darren Randolph, who got down low to prevent and force a corner. Seconds later, Knibbs pulled the trigger at pace, arrowing at the crossbar. Against a side of immense calibre, United were really making a name for themselves.
On the 62nd minute, substitute Gianluca Scamacca hits with precision a mean attempt from 10 yards, but James Holden was on hand to pull off a smart stop - before George Williams denied a looming Antonio in the six-yard box.
Benrahma handed David Moyes’ side a third goal on 69 when he embarked on a fine solo run. Racing down the left and jinking inside, the Algerian nestled an unsavable finesse shot past Holden.
Two minutes later, Ekwah added a fourth after he picked his spot from 20 yards and introduced the ball to goal with an accurate attempt.
Ten minutes from time, Glenn McConnell caused havoc with his first touch, racing down the right in a one-on-one position and cheekily beating Levi Laing, who brought him down for a penalty. Fittingly, Taylor stepped up and made no mistake from the spot to reduce matters and cap off a memorable evening with a goal against his boyhood team.
Up next, Sky Bet League One action at the Abbey returns as table-topping Plymouth Argyle make the journey from Devon – be sure to back the boys.
Cambridge United: Mannion (Holden, 45), Okedina (Williams, 45), Taylor (Jobe, 81), Ibsen Rossi (Jones, 45), Dunk (Brophy, 45), Digby (Worman, 45), Simper (Hoddle, 90), Lankester (McConnell, 78), Knibbs (Tracey, 60), Janneh (Scales, 90), Smith (Ironside, 60)
Subs Not Used:
Goalscorers: Ibsen Rossi (29’), Taylor (81’)
West Ham United: Fabianski (Randolph, 45), Johnson (Laing, 60), Dawson (Coufal, 45), Ogbonna (Ekwah, 60), Cresswell (Emerson, 15), Downes (Potts, 68), Coventry, Fornals (Forbes, 60), Lanzini (Benrahma, 45) Bowen (Scamacca, 45), Antonio (Swyer, 68)
Subs Not Used: Hegyi, Greenidge, Appiah Forson, Earthy
Goalscorers: Bowen (30’), Simper OG (43’), Benrahma (69)
Referee: Neil Hair
Attendance: 2805 (851 away fans)