A remarkable four goals from West Ham United Development Squad captain Marcus Browne fired Terry Westley’s men to a 0-4 thrashing of the reigning Premier League 2 Division One champions in David Unsworth’s Everton at Haig Avenue yesterday evening.
Browne, who led by example throughout, opened the scoring in the first period to mean that the East Londoners led narrowly at half-time, but waiting until, after the break to come into his own and embarrass a shell-shocked Toffees defence.
The ex-Wigan Athletic loanee struck emphatically in the 51st, 64th and 88th minutes to blow the hosts away and cap a dominant performance from the Young Hammers where they restricted their opponents to very few movements of any kind.
A third consecutive victory on the road for the Irons, all of them coming in the North West and the other two being over Liverpool and Manchester City, saw them go above the opposition, they fell to seventh, and Chelsea into fifth position and only three points off fourth-placed Swansea City.
From the start at the home of the National League’s Southport FC, home manager Unsworth made three changes to his starting Xl from last Sunday’s thrilling Goodison Park defeat to the Citizens.
The trio to depart from the team were Lewis Gibson, Fraser Hornby, and 26-year-old Jose Baxter, who recently returned to Merseyside after a drug ban, taking their places were bright starlets Danny Bramall, Shani Tarashaj and Shayne Lavery.
Meanwhile, visiting boss Westley decided on four alterations to his team from their most recent fixtures against the Sky Blues at the City Academy Stadium, which they won 0-1 thanks to another Browne strike.
Changing things up from the match on Thursday night, midfielders Conor Coventry and Grady Diangana, who made the first-team squad at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, and attackers Oladapo Afolayan and ex-Toffee Nathan Holland dropped out, with Alfie Lewis and Anthony Scully preferred in the centre of the park and Montenegro International Sead Haksabanovic and local boy Joe Powell coming in further forward.
Right from the very off on Merseyside, it was fairly clear to see which team were going to dictate the rhythm of the affair and dominate the play, the visitors showing signs of that very early on in the evening Sun.
Powell, playing in a more attacking role than usual, provided the Hammers’ first few efforts at goal, both of them flying wide from distance, Scully also tried his luck from range on 15, merely three sighters.
When the home side did get forward on the counter-attack, their main danger in attack was forward David Henen, who could clearly cause a few problems, although they never quite got enough service into him.
One man getting plenty of service was the returning Haksabanovic and Polish goalkeeper Mateusz Hewelt was the only reason he didn’t break the deadlock in and around the half-hour mark.
The Montenegro star found shooting positions twice in the penalty area, the first time only having the shot-stopper to beat but saw both shots kept out by him.
Moments earlier, Browne had also been kept out by the keeper when he looked to open the scoring, however, the visiting team couldn’t be kept out for much longer and they weren’t.
Browne has netted the only goal of the City triumph in the 34th minute and clearly enjoys scoring around ten minutes from the break, as his first came in the 36th minute this time.
Ironically, the strike came about from yet another Hewelt stop to deny Haksabanovic, the attacker skipping into the area and getting the shot off and it being palmed to one side.
There waiting was the captain to squeeze in past two defenders from a very tight angle indeed and ensure that his men took a deserved lead into half-time on Merseyside.
Momentum was key for the youngsters in black and blue and they would have been keen to very much carry on in the same vein in the second period, taking the meaning of that phrase to the next level.
The first goalmouth action of the second 45 saw Westley’s boys double their advantage, just six minutes into it, and this one was a much classier strike from the No10.
Defender Vashon Neufville was the man to tee him up, getting down the left side and delivering into the box, Browne controlled the delivery with one foot and fired a low shot into the far bottom corner with the other to put the youngsters in full control of the contest.
However, the People’s Club responded to going two behind a lot more than they had to going one behind and could have easily levelled the scores entirely in the next ten minutes.
But, keeper Nathan Trott, who made up by keeping a second clean sheet in a row, and recent first-team debutant Lewis stood in their way, the former tipping over an accurate long-distance Conor Grant shot and the latter on the line to stop a clever Bramall effort from a corner.
The Hammers took full advantage of the close-calls to well and truly put the tie to bed soon after, however, and it could only be one man to do it, the four-goal maestro Browne.
This one came from a swift break, in which the Claret & Blue starlets worked the ball out to Browne on the right side of the penalty area with such precision and pace.
He was left with only Hewelt to beat from a very tough angle and managed to beat him at his near post for the hat-trick and it was no less than he deserved for terrifying the Everton defence for the full 90 minutes.
The only disappointment from a West Ham perspective from here on in would have been that they didn’t manage to get many more against a weak and exposed back-line with chances aplenty being passed up inside the final 20 minutes at one end.
Although Browne did out the cherry on the cake for his side two minutes from the end by scoring the pick of the bunch from outside the area to cap off an energetic run.
Browne worked the space on the edge and couldn’t have picked out the inside of the post better for his fourth and to make a second victory in five days for the Young Hammers all the more special at the Merseyrail Community Stadium.
It will be back to the drawing board for Unsworth’s Young Toffees after they conceded four goals at home for the second match in succession and they will hope to bounce back in next Monday’s Merseyside Derby with fierce rivals the Reds.
Westley’s boys will also have to wait until Monday for their next outing, travelling to face Derby County in the league, they will do so on a high as they look to force a top-four finish over the closing three matches of the 2017/2018 campaign.