Spanish striker Antonio Martinez netted the first ever hattrick by a West Ham United player at The London Stadium yesterday afternoon to help inflict a 4-2 defeat on Manchester United.
The Red Devils had edged ahead twice in the first period, both times through Demetri Mitchell, but Martinez twice levelled the scores and then put Westley’s Boys ahead just before Joe Powell added a fourth.
Victory for the Hammer starlets, their second consecutive in The League, took them up to third place, whereas, Ricky Sgrabia’s men still dwindle in the very foot of The PL2 Division One.
From the start, Terry Westley opted for five changes from The Premier League International Cup defeat to Villarreal B as he was without the likes of Noha Sylvester, Martin Samuelsen, Grady Diangana and Moses Makasi due to injury concerns.
Goalkeeper Nathan Trott came back in for Rihards Matrevics, Sam Byram replaced Ben Johnson, skipper Declan Rice came in for vice-skipper Makasi, Edimilson Fernandes replaced Ben Wells and Dan Kemp came in for Diangana.
Meanwhile, Ricky Sgrabia’s United side was boosted by the addition of first-team defender Luke Shaw to the starting Xl, there were also starts for danger man James Wilson, Joe Riley and promising young keeper Kieran O’Hara.
On a sunny afternoon in Stratford, the visitors made a dream start on their first visit to The London Stadium as they took the lead after less than 100 seconds.
Some fantastic play from Indy Boonen played in forward Demetri Mitchell and he finished well past Trott to put his side ahead.
However, the lead would not last all of 24 minutes, when Joe Powell’s cross eventually fell to Toni Martinez, who reacted quickly to fire a low shot under O’Hara and into the back of the net.
Despite this, the away side would hit back yet again on the break with Nathan Trott spilling a Wilson effort into the path of the prolific Mitchell, for the striker to grab his and United’s second.
In an end-to-end entertaining match-up, there would be time for one more piece of drama before the break, as winger Nathan Holland curled in a wonderful delivery to the head of Martinez for another deserved equaliser.
The Hammers starlets would start the second period in the same vein that they ended the first and this time, it would be Fernandes the provider for Martinez to take the lead for the first time.
The Swiss International skipped away from Shaw to tee up Martinez for another lethal headed goal, the comeback had now been completed.
Furthermore, Westley’s Boys were not done and it would soon be 4-2, albeit in slightly scrappier circumstances than the first three.
Fernandes, again assisting in his first U23 game of the season, managed to bustle his way through and set-up Powell, who finished calmly into a half-empty United net.
The goal would prove enough to flatten The Red Devils in their tracks and put the game to bed.
Despite some late pressure from the visitors, the youngsters held out for an impressive fourth League win of the campaign and for Sgrabia’s Boys, a fourth defeat.
But, the day belonged to Martinez as he now has eight goals in ten U23 appearances this season.
Next up for Manchester United’s youngsters will be a Monday night home tie with Liverpool, whereas, our super Hammer starlets will travel to face Chelsea on Sunday afternoon, can they make it three PL2 wins on the bounce?
Man of the Match: Antonio Martinez.
What Did Terry Westley Have To Say?
On the victory:
“This group have a great solidarity and work ethic, to come back (from the early goals conceded) was real steely of our players”.
“In the second-half, we controlled the game and when we got in front, we really started to dictate the play”.
On Antonio Martinez:
“He is a goal-scorer, someone said “he has had a slow start”, if eight goals in ten games is slow, then what is fast?”
“He really caused the defence problems today, he was lethal and he was the first West Ham striker to score a hattrick in this Stadium, you can never take that away from him”.