Heading down to the capital, Manchester United’s u23s took on West Ham behind closed doors at Rush Green.
For what is always a tough fixture against the London club, it provided the opportunity for United to pass West Ham in the table and move into the top four.
Things didn’t start well for United as West Ham were immediately on the front foot, sending in some dangerous crosses for Radek Vitek and Teden Mengi to deal with.
One clearance fell to the feet of Armstrong Oko-Flex who dribbled past Marc Jurado causing the Spaniard to lose his footing as he turned. Scrambling to get back to his feet Jurado pulled Oko-Flex down, conceding a penalty in the fifth minute.
After some discussion of who would take the penalty, the Irish international Oko-Flex dispatched to make it 1-0.
United tried to work their way back with some clever link up play down the left through Anthony Elanga and Alvaro Fernandez.
Elanga burst into the West Ham box past his man but the covering Jamal Baptiste slid through clearing the dangers with a strong challenge.
West Ham thought they had made it 2-0 when Perkins drifted between United’s centre-backs and was free to head home from an in-swinging cross. But the assistant referee’s flag came to United’s rescue calling offside on what looked an incredibly tight call.
United continued to try to hit back through Elanga but Baptiste had his number and wasn’t letting him through.
A back and forth match for the opening 30 minutes, United were struggling to breakdown West Ham’s last line of defence. Meanwhile, Vitek was being called into question forcing him to make a number of good saves.
United’s closest chance came in the 32nd minute when Charlie Wellens provided and overlapping run and opened his body to curl an effort to the far post but it struck the outside of the bar.
Up the other end, after peppering Vitek’s goal, West Ham found the breakthrough to make it 2-0 off a corner. The impressive Baptiste lost Mengi in the box and directed header across goal and inside the far post.
Wellens looked to turn provider as he whipped in a low cross for Joe Hugill but he volleys it over the bar from just five yards out.
Just before the half time whistle blew, Oko-Flex ran at Jurado again and delivered a ball across which deflected off the Spaniard, looping towards Vitek, who tried to tip it over the bar. But he could not get a strong enough hand on it and pushed into the goal.
United went into the break down a deflating 3-0. Despite their 58% possession, United’s youngsters couldn’t find the opening to get a single shot on target.
The second half started and it was Oko-Flex causing danger again as he raced in behind and as he was about to shoot, Mengi slid in and chopped him down to give West Ham their second penalty.
The recent signing from Celtic took his own penalty again making it three for him on the day.
With the match out of sight, the tempo dropped for much of the second half with West Ham in cruise control.
A bad day became worse though as Chesters ran in behind Fernandez and the Spaniard’s tracking run accidentally clipped the West Ham forward, bringing him down. The referee deemed it to be the denying of a goal scoring opportunity and gave Fernandez a straight red.
One of United’s top performers this season, Fernandez will be a big miss in the upcoming fixtures.
West Ham then made it five, with a curling long ball in behind Mengi who lost his man and Perkins ran through to slot home.
The match was rounded off in the 88th minute with a bizarre deflected free kick which somehow spun into the bottom corner out of Vitek’s reach.
A day to forget for Manchester United’s youngsters, they’ll be hoping their return to the capital next week to face Tottenham will fare better.
United: Vitek, Jurado, Mengi, Hardley, Fernandez, Wellens, Svidersky, Mather (Norkett 74), Forson (Hoogewerf 63), Elanga, Hugill
Subs not used: Polakowski
Read our player ratings for the match here.