United take on West Ham.

Under-23s fall to Hammers comeback

Friday 09 April 2021 20:50

Manchester United’s Under-23s allowed a two-goal lead to slip through our fingers as West Ham United fought back to win 3-2 in a thrilling Premier League 2 Division One contest at Leigh.

Mark Helm and Anthony Elanga put United in charge in the early moments after the break but a spectacular hat-trick from former Reds striker Mipo Odubeko saw them snatch the victory with the last goal coming in the third minute of added time.

Both teams were wearing black armbands and two minutes' silence were observed prior to the kick-off as a mark of respect to Prince Philip, who passed away earlier in the day, aged 99.

Older fans among our number will recall his visit to Maine Road in May 1964 to lend his support to a charity match for the Variety Club of Great Britain between United and City, which doubled as that season’s Manchester Senior Cup final. More recently, he accompanied The Queen when she performed the official opening of tonight’s venue Leigh Sports Village on Thursday 21 May 2009.

Helm hits the opener Video

Helm hits the opener

See Mark Helm's volleyed effort in the Premier League 2 clash with West Ham, from Alvaro Fernandez's deep cross...

Under-23s coach Neil Wood included three players in Nathan Bishop, Brandon Williams and Anthony Elanga, who were, the previous evening, with the first-team squad in Granada.

United were quick into our stride and, for the opening few minutes, were giving West Ham’s defence plenty of activity but the visitors weathered the early storm and gradually increased the frequency of their visits into United’s territory.

Most of the goal attempts, in the early stages, were from distance and didn’t really trouble either keeper, United’s Nathan Bishop, and Joseph Anang between West Ham's posts.

Noam Emeran, making his first start at this level, was rapidly becoming a major threat down the right wing. Twice he negotiated a route into the Hammers’ penalty area but, each time, keeper Anang did his work well. At the other end, it was Kai Corbett who looked the most likely to breach United’s defences, but Bishop was proving to be a formidable barrier.

The complexion of the game altered markedly early in the second half as United grabbed two goals inside half-a-dozen minutes.

Alvaro Fernandez was the architect of the first goal with fine cross which pinpointed Helm, who caught it perfectly on the volley at the back post to put his side in front. Elanga, who had looked lively on his return from injury and fresh from his first spot on the senior side's bench on Thursday, doubled the lead with an unstoppable shot after collecting a Hannibal pass and cutting in from the left to bury a fierce drive.

West Ham, who were the league table’s bottom side before this match, looked a much better side than that and they proceeded to provide evidence of that with a storming comeback. And it was striker Odubeko who followed Elanga’s style with two fantastic shots in the 59th and 72nd minutes, finishing in clinical fashion.

Both sides sought a winner - Freddie Potts shot just wide and Emmanuel Longelo clipped the bar for the visitors, while Helm's shot deflected over and, from debutant Charlie Savage's corner, Will Fish could not keep his header down.

It had been another richly entertaining match but, ultimately, it fell to the visitors when Odubeko hit a speculative shot which crossed the line just inside the post to complete the double over the young Reds.

Elanga nets a beauty for Under-23s Video

Elanga nets a beauty for Under-23s

Anthony Elanga's brilliant strike against West Ham in Premier League 2 deserves multiple viewings...


United: Bishop; Williams (Jurado 46), Fish, Devine, Fernandez; Helm, McCann (Savage 66); Emeran (Hoogewerf 66), Shoretire, Hannibal; Elanga.

Substitutes not used: Mastny, Svidersky.

Goals: Helm 49, Elanga 55 | Odubeko 59,72,90+3