Ntcham (88 mins)
West Ham 1
Sadlier (26 mins)
- Match reports
- 31 August 2014 16:59
- Posted by @roline_mcfc
City's Elite Development Squad left it late to rescue a point against West Ham at the AJ Bell Stadium.
The visitors had deservedly led through Kieran Sadlier's 26th-minute effort but substitute Olivier Ntcham levelled the scores with just two minutes of normal time remaining, drilling a low shot past Raphael Spiegel to salvage a draw.
The goal rewarded a spell of late City pressure, though had the visitors held out for the victory, there could have been few complaints.
Following a winless start to his side’s league campaign, Patrick Vieira made just one change to the side that were held to a point by Sunderland last week, with Kean Bryan replacing the suspended Shay Facey.
George Glendon stood firm in front of the back four, with Seko Fofana and Jack Byrne playing in a more advanced role. Sinan Bytyqi and Jose Angel Pozo were positioned down the flanks and Jordi Hiwula sought his second goal in two games upfront.
Both teams headed into the clash without a victory so far this season and it was clear right from the off neither side wanted that run to continue.
West Ham caused problems within seconds as Angus Gunn was called into action, smothering Sadlier's dangerous cross at the second attempt.
Almost immediately, Hiwula was sent clear as City mounted an attack but the striker’s touch forced him wide and having lost the opportunity to shoot, he couldn't pick out a blue shirt with his drilled cross.
The visitors almost broke the deadlock on 18 minutes when another dangerous cross was not dealt with. The ball fell kindly for Kieran Sadlier but at the second attempt, the midfielder poked just wide.
Minutes later, Elliot Lee – son of former Newcastle and England striker Rob – blazed over from close range, after turning well in the box.
The home side didn't heed the warnings though and were punished on 26 minutes as Sadlier was quick to react when a cross wasn't dealt with, firing an effort past Gunn and into the top corner.
It was no more than the Hammers deserved and they almost doubled their lead instantly – only to be thwarted by Gunn, who was equal to Lee's low effort at the front post. This feat would be repeated at the end of the half as the striker caused havoc throughout the afternoon.
In a bid to turn the game in his side's favour, Vieira brought on Brandon Barker in place of Bytyqi just after the half-hour mark.
The decision almost paid off when Pozo sent the substitute through but after cutting inside, Barker’s shot was straight at Spiegel.
Hiwula then saw an effort suffer the same fate moments later as the hosts piled on the pressure towards the very end of the half.
Despite the late surge, City couldn't find an equaliser and West Ham entered the break as worthy leaders.
After a long stoppage at the beginning of the second half with an injury to the Hammers' Sam Westley, the visitors continued where they left off.
The London outfit had a goal ruled out for offside before Gunn made another crucial save, standing firm to somehow block two Lee efforts in quick succession.
There was little evidence to show a City equaliser was on the cards as the hosts struggled to retain possession and create chances. All too often the passing proved wayward and the home side were robbed of possession as the visitors kept tight and pressed high.
Fofana did spurn a good chance in a rare attack but his effort was way off-target.
West Ham on the other hand were not content to sit back and hold onto their slender lead and the Hammers pushed forward in search of a second goal.
Sadlier fired over before City finally got themselves into gear as the game entered its final minutes. Angelino hit the crossbar with a deflected effort before the home side rallied to rescue a point.
Barker squared for Ntcham to drill an effort low into the corner for an equaliser that had never looked like coming.
With seven minutes added on, there was plenty of time for a winner and both sides sought to grab one. Angelino saw a free-kick pushed wide before Spiegel made a crucial save at his near post from Thierry Ambrose.
Claims for a City penalty were then waved away as Vieira's side pressed for a winner. In all honesty though, the hosts were somewhat fortunate to come away from the AJ Bell Stadium with a draw as the Hammers had been the better side for much of the game.