Cambridge United 2-4 West Ham United
Greg Taylor Testimonial, Abbey Stadium, Tuesday 6 December 2022
West Ham United made a winning return to action, coming from behind to defeat Cambridge United in Greg Taylor’s Testimonial match.
Jarrod Bowen, Saïd Benrahma and Pierre Ekwah were on target as the Irons came from behind to secure victory over their EFL League One hosts on a freezing Tuesday evening at the Abbey Stadium.
Taylor’s central defensive partner Zeno Ibsen Rossi gave Cambridge the lead against run of play before Bowen and a Lewis Simper own-goal had West Ham ahead at half-time. A lively second half saw Benrahma and Ekwah score from range before Taylor himself netted a late penalty as David Moyes enjoyed a successful return to the club he played for 30 years ago.
West Ham dominated the opening exchanges possession and territory-wise, but it was Cambridge who created the better chances – Saikou Janneh poked wide from 18 yards inside three minutes, before Harvey Knibbs saw a low shot blocked by Craig Dawson on 14.
The Hammers then lost Aaron Cresswell to an apparent injury on a bitterly cold night at the Abbey Stadium, with Angelo Ogbonna taking over the role of captain, and, after Fornals and Bowen had each dragged a shot wide of the target, insult was added to injury when the U’s took the lead on the half-hour mark.
Smith intercepted inside the West Ham half and saw his low shot hit Dawson’s heels and spin wide. From Simper’s corner, Knibbs outjumped the same player and his header dropped to centre-back Rossi, who showed composure to control and fire low past Łukasz Fabiański from no more than eight yards.
Within a minute, though, parity was restored.
Michail Antonio, who had already repeatedly put his strength to good use, held his man off inside the penalty area and sought out Downes to his right. A touch from the No12 fell for Bowen, who slammed an unstoppable rising right-foot shot high past Mannion’s outstretched gloves and into the top corner.
After an opening quarter devoid of goalmouth incident, the game had sprung to life, and it was all-action from then until the half-time whistle.
For the hosts, Janneh forced Fabiański into two smart saves after cutting in from the left flank, while West Ham forced a succession of corners, one of which saw Emerson’s delivery hit the gloved hand of Sam Smith, but referee Neil Hair opted not to award a penalty.
Then, moments after Lanzini had seen a low shot held by Mannion, the visitors silenced an enthusiastic home crowd with a goal a minute before the break. A superb move that involved Ogbonna, Dawson, Johnson, Fornals and Lanzini culminated in Emerson’s low cross from the left being put into his own net by Simper, under pressure from Antonio.
Moyes made four changes at half-time, replacing Fabiański, Dawson, Lanzini and Bowen with Darren Randolph, Vladimír Coufal, Said Benrahma and Gianluca Scamacca, moving Johnson to centre-back and switching to a 4-4-2 formation.
It was Mark Bonner’s side who started the second half the stronger and the Cambridge manager would have been disappointed not to see his team draw level as first substitute Ben Worman tested Randolph, then Knibbs’ shot cannoned out off the underside of the crossbar.
Moyes made three more changes before one of his half-time replacements, Scamacca, saw his rasping effort repelled by another of Cambridge’s goalkeepers, James Holden.
But Holden could do nothing about Benrahma’s unstoppable effort a few minutes later as the Algerian latched onto Scamacca’s pass, cut inside and curled high into the top right-hand corner from 22 yards, much to the delight of the 851-strong Claret and Blue Army huddled together behind that goal.
And the Hammers fans were cheering again three minutes later when Academy prospects Freddie Potts and Pierre Ekwah combined and the latter sent an accurate strike low past Holden.
Scamacca then missed two chances before man of the night Taylor got his name on the scoresheet from the penalty spot eight minutes from full-time and received a standing ovation as he was replaced to cap a memorable evening for the Cambridge No5 and a decent workout for Moyes’ men.
West Ham United: Fabiański (Randolph 46), Johnson (Laing 60), Dawson (Coufal 46), Ogbonna (Forbes 60), Cresswell © (Emerson 16), Downes (Potts 68), Coventry, Fornals (Ekwah 60), Lanzini (Scamacca 46), Bowen (Benrahma 46), Antonio (Swyer 68)
Subs not used: Hegyi (GK), Greenidge, Earthy, Appiah-Forson
Goals: Bowen 31, Simper 44 (og), Benrahma 70, Ekwah 73
Cambridge United: Mannion (Holden 46), Okedina (Williams 46), Ibsen Rossi (Jones 46), Taylor © (Jobe 83), Dunk (Brophy 46), Digby (Worman 46), Simper (Hoddle 90+1), Knibbs (Ironside 60), Lankester (McConnell 80), Janneh (Scales 90+1), Smith (Tracey 60)
Goals: Rossi 30, Taylor 82 (pen)
Referee: Neil Hair
Attendance: 2,805 (851 from West Ham United)