Remy Coddington and his West Ham United Under 21 teammates fought valiantly but fell to a 2 - 1 defeat to Crawley Town in a behind-closed-doors friendly.
Mark Robson’s outfit pulled level in the first half through Keenan Appiah-Forson’s well-struck effort, after the EFL League Two outfit had taken an early lead thanks to a neat finish from Dom Telford.
Despite the Hammers’ chances in the second half, it was Jack Powell who netted the winner for Crawley. The former Academy of Football youngster converted from inside the area when a through-ball from Telford left him with just Krisztián Hegyi to beat from close range.
The fixture was organized as part of the U21s’ preparation for the resumption of their 2022/23 campaign, with the young Hammers back in Premier League 2 action at Everton on January 6th.
At Rush Green Stadium, the U21s almost took the lead inside five minutes as Appiah-Forson rushed Crawley goalkeeper Ellery Balcombe, although the blocked clearance drifted wide.
Coddington was then only denied the opener by a recovering tackle from Ludwig Francillette, before the visitors took the lead, with Telford rifling in the first goal of the afternoon with his left foot.
But Robson’s side stood tall in east London and responded quickly through Appiah-Forson who capitalized on a mistake in the Crawley defense, and, once gifted possession, found the net with a thunderous strike.
The No7 almost turned provider at the end of the first half when his cross from the right found Coddington, but the forward’s effort was deflected wide thanks to a late intervention.
After the break, Appiah-Forson almost found the Hammers second, but he was crowded out in the area when Harrison Ashby’s cross landed at his feet, while Crawley Town’s Mazeed sent a header wide and then forced a comfortable save from Hegyi, who later was quickly down to his right to deter Telford.
With 20 minutes to be played, Robson introduced Junior Robinson, Lennon Peake, and Josh Briggs for Levi Laing, Coddington and Ashby.
But Crawley struck the decisive blow in the 75th minute when Telford found Powell, who passed the ball into the net from near the penalty spot to restore the visitors’ lead.
The Irons saw Robinson's left-footed volley fade wide late on and were unable to grab their second equalizer of the afternoon, so had to settle for a defeat despite a solid performance.