Swindon Town got off to a losing start in the 2017/18 Checkatrade Trophy after going down 3-2 to West Ham United’s U21’s at The County Ground this evening.
Luke Norris and Paul Mullin both continued their fine starts to the season, but the visitors struck on three occasions to get off to a winning start in Group C.
Despite carving out the first chance of the game, the Reds found themselves a goal down after Martin Samuelsen punished a defensive error.
The young Hammers had opportunities to extend their lead with Will Henry having to make a couple of saves, while Luke Norris and Chris Hussey both went close at the other end and Amine Linganzi saw an effort ruled out for offside.
Luke Norris restored parity from the spot after the interval and, although Moses Makasi fired United back in-front, Paul Mullin’s third goal of the season made it honours even once more.
However, despite piling on the pressure, Town were hit with a late sucker-punch as Dan Kemp won it for the young Hammers.
Dave Flitcroft made five changes for his side’s Southern Group C opener with Will Henry, Dion Conroy, Ellis Iandolo, Luke Norris and Kaiyne Woolery all coming into the fold.
Lawrence Vigouroux was given the night off while Chris Robertson, James Brophy, Paul Mullin and Harry Smith dropped to the bench.
Henry, making his first outing of the 2017/18 campaign, took his place behind a back-four of Ben Purkiss, Olly Lancashire, Conroy and Hussey with Iandolo, James Dunne, Amine Linganzi and Donal McDermott making up the midfield.
And, fresh from their impressive second-half display against Exeter at the weekend, Norris and Woolery were tasked with leading the line against the young Hammers.
It was Town who threatened first as McDermott led a swift breakaway, finding Woolery who slipped in Hussey and the defender’s cross was nodded over the bar by Norris.
That miss came back to haunt the Reds mere moments later as the Hammers drew first blood, Martin Samuelsen pouncing on a defensive mistake before rounding Henry and slotting home.
United’s goal appeared to give them confidence and they came close to extending their lead on a couple of occasions with Antonio Martinez sending an effort into the side netting, before Sead Haksabanovic crashed a shot against the bar.
Town made sure their visitors didn’t have it all their own way as Norris hammered a shot inches wide after latching onto Iandolo’s ball over the top, although Henry was forced into action at the other end to deny Martinez.
The Reds began to grab a foothold on the game the longer the first-half went on and they were causing their guests plenty of problems.
Linganzi rose highest to head home a pinpoint Hussey free-kick, although the offside flag cut short any celebrations, while the latter saw his dangerous cross punched over the bar by Nathan Trott.
Town were being kept at bay though and they had to be alert at the other end as the Hammers continued to create chances with Nathan Holland sending a drive wide.
It was a blistering start to the second-half by the Reds and they got their just rewards just two-minutes in with Luke Norris converting from the penalty spot after a handball inside the area by Moses Makasi.
The striker nearly added to his tally moments later after being picked out by Conroy with a superb ball, although his header lacked the power to really trouble Trott.
Dunne then fired a shot over the bar before Town opted to make a string of changes with Paul Mullin, Harry Smith and James Brophy all coming on to freshen things up.
It was West Ham who found the back of the net next though, with Moses Makasi prodding home from close-range following a scramble in the penalty area.
Town refused to be beaten and they hauled themselves level with 73-minutes on the clock courtesy of Mullin, who nodded home after Lancashire sent Hussey’s deep corner back across goal.
Mullin tried his luck once more minutes later as his speculative lob from distance was gathered by Trott, before Smith fired inches wide.
Samuelsen went close at the other end and that proved to be a sign of things to come with Dan Kemp tapping home from close-range after Martinez’s shot bounced back off the post, with that proving to be the winner.
TEAMS AND STATS:
SCORERS - Martin Samuelsen (6), Luke Norris (47), Moses Makasi (68), Paul Mullin (74), Dan Kemp (86).
SWINDON TOWN (4-2-3-1) - Henry, Purkiss, Conroy, Lancashire (C), Hussey; Dunne, Linganzi; Iandolo, McDermott (James Brophy 65), Woolery (Paul Mullin 62); Norris (Harry Smith 62).
Subs Not Used - Robertson, T Smith, Thomas, Twine.
WEST HAM UNITED U21’s (4-5-1) - Trott; Pike, Pask, Akinola, Neufville; Quina, Makasi (C) (Grady Diangana 61), Haksabanovic (Dan Kemp 72), Samuelsen, Holland (Conor Coventry 87); Martinez.
Subs Not Used - Matrevics, Hector-Ingram, Powell, Sylvestre.
TOWN - Harry Smith
WEST HAM UNITED - Vashon Neufville
SENT-OFF - Vashon Neufville
Referee - John Busby
Attendance - 2,082