Terry Westley’s U23s continued their sensational vein of form to record a third win in four games in all Competitions by comprehensively beating Bristol Rovers at The Memorial Stadium last night.

It had looked like things would pan out very differently for the visitors when Tom Nichols fired the home side ahead without even a minute on the clock.

But, a penalty from in-form Spanish forward Antonio Martinez, a strike from Norway International Martin Samuelsen and an additional goal from Martinez completed a stunning comeback for the youngsters.

The Checkatrade Trophy triumph sees the Claret & Blue starlets to the top of Southern Group D and with a very strong chance of making it through to The Knockout Stages, while The Pirates fall down to second.

From the start in The West Country, Rovers Boss Darrell Clarke decided on a staggering eight changes to the starting Xl that defeated MK Dons in League One on Saturday.

Coming in was Sam Slocombe, Jonathan Burn, Ryan Sweeney, Marc Bola, Ryan Broom, Luke Russe, Byron Moore and Dominic Telford, they replaced Adam Smith, Tom Lockyer, Tom Broadbent, Lee Brown, Chris Lines, Ollie Clarke, Liam Sercombe, and Rory Gaffney.

Meanwhile, Terry Westley could only be seen to be making two changes from the weekend’s impressive Premier League Two victory at home to Manchester City.

Replacing defender Rosaire Longelo was first-teamer and Development Squad Captain Declan Rice and taking the place of England youth international winger Dan Kemp was the returning Martin Samuelsen.

On a chilly night in Bristol, the home supporters had something to warm them up after just 25 seconds, when a Byron Moore delivery picked out the head of Nichols to beat Nathan Trott.

However, Clarke’s men would have very little to cheer about after that as the Young Hammers would dictate the play for large portions of the game that remained.


After the likes of Domingos Quina and Samuelsen had gone close, the visitors’ pressure was finally rewarded on 42 minutes when the advancing defender Ben Johnson was caught in the area by Ryan Broom with the Referee showing no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

Martinez coolly dispatched the resulting spot-kick much to the delight of the travelling Hammers faithful to deservedly even things up at the break.

Chances would continue to flow in the second period and it took just five minutes for the starlets to seize the advantage for the first time in the affair.

A dramatic goalmouth scramble eventually found its way to Samuelsen before the promising wide man put the nonsense to bed by ruthlessly firing the ball across goal and into the far corner.

A much-changed home side would fight back after that as they sought a leveller but some solid defending from Westley’s Bots paved the way for Martinez to do what he does best on 76 minutes and put the game beyond their reach.

Having been played into a one-on-one situation with Slocombe, the headline-maker chipped delicately to beat the keeper from a tight angle, displaying another side of his versatile game and securing the emphatic win.

Just moments later, Martinez came agonisingly close to netting a 12th of the season and his second hattrick, however, just couldn’t sort his feet out after getting into a superb position, having to settle for 11 heading into November.

The hosts, who had been totally outclassed by their far younger opposition, will now turn their attention to Friday night’s FA Cup First Round clash with Notts County away from home.

Whilst, The Hammers Development Squad will now have to wait until after The International Break for the next game when Derby County will be the Friday night visitors to The London Stadium.

Young Hammer of the Match: Antonio Martinez

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