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Smalley's scorcher gives Oxford United victory
Oxford United 1 West Ham United 0
A terrific finish from Deane Smalley saw Oxford United open their pre-season schedule with a win against West Ham United.
The striker, who endured a dismal first season with the U’s, stylishly fired in the only goal of the game on 36 minutes.
Chris Wilder ’s squad were made to work by the Premier League side, particularly in the first half, but goalkeeper Ryan Clarke had relatively little to do.
The closest the Hammers came to an equaliser came was after the break, when former United loanee Rob Hall shot on to a post.
United drafted in six triallists for the game, ensuring they were able to field entirely different outfield teams in each half.
West Ham, who had already played three games in pre-season, named a strong line-up with Carlton Cole and Ricardo Vaz Te playing up front.
The Premier League visitors unsurprisingly enjoyed the majority of the early possession and teenage defender Alex Evans, on trial at Oxford from Cardiff City, had to make two excellent blocks on Vaz Te.
But the first clear chance fell to the U’s on the break after 15 minutes.
An Adam Chapman clearance set Jon-Paul Pittman on his way, but after holding off Jordan Spence the striker blazed a shot over from 18 yards.
The friendly atmosphere disappeared midway through the half, when strong tackles in quick succession from Alfie Potter and Mark Noble saw both sides square up to each other.
When the tension subsided Vaz Te missed a glaring chance on 32 minutes, shooting wide first time from Kevin Nolan’s low cross.
The hosts made the most of the let-off and took the lead in spectacular fashion four minutes later.
A cross from debutant Sean McGinty almost found Sean McAllister, but a poor clearance fell straight to Smalley, who did superbly to keep his shot down and find the net.
United made ten changes at half time, giving supporters their first sights of summer signings Michael Raynes, Sean Rigg and Jake Forster-Caskey in action.
The substitutions meant the game lost some of its rhythm after the break, especially with the Hammers making seven changes on the hour.
There were still moments of quality and Forster-Caskey gave a glimpse of his talent with a through ball which almost came off for Tom Craddock.
Hall, who scored six goals on loan at Oxford last season, looked lively after coming on.
He received a warm welcome from the home fans, who chanted the teenager’s name again 18 minutes from time when he was denied an equaliser by a post.
Blair Turgott headed over from close range, but the home side finished strongly to complete the victory.
United are next in action at Didcot Town on Friday (7.45).
Oxford 1st half: Clarke, Batt, Wright, Evans, McGinty, Heslop, Chapman, McAllister, Potter, Pittman, Smalley
Oxford 2nd half: Clarke, Boaten, Tafazoli, Raynes, Capaldi, Smith, Forster-Caskey, Harris, Rigg, Constable, Craddock
Unused subs: Crocombe, Long, Lynn
West Ham: Henderson, Demel (Nasha 60), Spence, Reid (Wearen 60), McCartney (Taylor 46), Noble (Ruddock 60), Nolan (Moncur 60), O'Neil (Pollitt 60), Morrison (Hall 60), Cole (Maynard 46), Vaz Te (Turgott 60)
Unused subs: Larkins, Lletget Referee: Graham Scott
Attendance: 4,780 (1,101 visitors)
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