MATCH REPORT: West Ham United U23s 2 Aldershot Town 2 (A) (Pre-Season Friendly)

Aldershot Town continued their pre-season with a 2-2 away draw against West Ham United u23s at Rush Green Stadium.

Shots manager Danny Searle named a strong starting line-up, with a couple of changes from Tuesday’s 0-0 draw against Haringey Borough, with the likes of Kevin Lokko returning to match-day action.

Aldershot Town started the better of the two sides and would create their first chance in the 7th minute, when Kodi Lyons-Foster looked for Corie Andrews over the top, but with the forward charging towards the West Ham goal, the referee called play back for a narrow offside call.

The Shots continued to push for the opener in the early stages of the game, this time with a Lewis Kinsella long free-kick that found fellow defender Kevin Lokko at the back post but his header was tipped over well by West Ham Keeper Dave Martin.

Another good move down the right-hand side released Trialist A to cross after a smart move, however his dangerous cross looking for the two forwards in Mo Bettamer and Corie Andrews, earned Aldershot Town a succession of corners.

However, West Ham looked to hit The Shots on the counter-attack and would in turn, open the scoring as a result through Armstrong Okoflex in the 22nd minute with a well-taken finish.

The West Ham forward did well to connect with his fellow forward in the build-up to the goal and as a result, found room that he needed inside the box and whip the ball past Mitch Walker and give West Ham an arguably unexpected lead.

Aldershot Town responded well and would reap the reward of their early pressure by finding the equaliser and opening goal with a well-hit finish by midfielder Toby Edser in the 31st minute.

After initial strong hold-up play by Bettamer, the forward released the young midfielder down the left-hand side who showed great composure to drive towards the West Ham goal and smash past Martin at his near post to give Aldershot Town a well-deserved equaliser.

From this equaliser, The Shots looked to push on and put themselves ahead and with a late flurry of chances, almost found themselves in front just before the first-half was over.

It was from another succession of corners that the best chances for Aldershot Town to take the lead came from, with Kinsella’s corner in the 40th minute finding Lokko who found himself with time and space to shoot and force a close-range save from Martin that earned The Shots another chance to score in the process.

Kinsella’s corner from the left-hand side instead found Giles Phillips at the near post and it was his turn to have a close-range effort saved from Martin as this opportunity for Aldershot Town was the last of a strong first-half showing from The Shots as they looked to continue this performance going into the second-half.

It would be Aldershot Town who continued the momentum going into the second 45 as an early corner saw Kinsella and Alfy Whittingham at the heart of a clever short corner, this in turn resulted in Lokko able to head home his second goal for the club with a powerful header at the near post.

Both sides continued to create chances at the start of the second-half but it was Aldershot Town who looked more dangerous with the opportunities that fell their way.

In the 57th minute, tenacious work high up the left-hand side from Edser and Kinsella allowed the recently-introduced Trialist C the chance to create space inside the penalty area before shooting, but his effort was off-target.

Following this chance and a number of switches for both sides, West Ham started to find their rhythm and despite the strong defending by Aldershot Town so far in the game, the home side would find the equaliser in the 71st minute with Okoflex scoring his second.

A succession of crosses into the box by West Ham saw Aldershot Town clear the danger but the home side continued their pressure and the ball fell kindly to Okoflex who found the far-right corner to level the scores for West Ham.

After this, it was a much more level encounter, with neither side able to carve out a clear-cut opportunity to take the lead as both sides will take a lot of optimism moving forward and looking ahead to their respective seasons.

All in all a positive fixture for both sides, as Aldershot Town continue their unbeaten record so far in pre-season, with all eyes now on National League South side Slough Town away next Saturday.

Aldershot Town XI: 1 M Walker (G/K), 2 Trialist A (Saunders 63′), 3 L Kinsella (C), 4 G Phillips, 5 K Lokko (Trialist D 60′),  6 K Lyons-Foster, 7 A Whittingham, 8 T Edser, 9 M Bettamer (Willard 78′), 10 Trialist B, 11 C Andrews (Trialist C 45′)

West Ham United u23s XI: 1 D Martin (G/K) (Trialist 76′), 2 H Ashby (C), 3 A Masuaku (Longelo 45′), 4 P Ekwah, 5 W Greenidge, 6 J Baptiste (Ashley 60′), 7 D Chesters (Diallo 45′), 8 K Fornan, 9 M Dju (Swyer 71′), 10 B Rosa, 11 A Okoflex