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Adel nets hat-trick in Reserve win

Adel Taarabt's hat-trick helped our Reserves defeat West Ham 3-1 on their return to league action at Woodside Park, Bishop's Stortford.

Adel Taarabt's hat-trick helped our Reserves defeat West Ham 3-1 on their return to league action at Woodside Park, Bishop's Stortford.

The Moroccan international cancelled out Anthony Edgar's early opener on 10 minutes before winning the game late on with another accomplished strike and a stoppage time penalty to kick start Clive Allen's side's season.

It was our second string's first competitive match since early December, and the understandable rustiness showed during the first five minutes, in which the hosts took the lead.

Junior Stanislas had previously fired a warning shot just wide before Zavon Hines' cross from the right hit the back of Edgar in the box, who got the ball out of his feet and fired home at Ben Alnwick's near post.

It looked as if we were going to be in for a tough night before an equaliser out of nothing completely changed the face of the game.

Taarabt had hardly touched the ball in the opening 10 minutes before picking up the ball centrally and running at the defence who he left mesmerised with an array of touches before firing home an unstoppable shot from the edge of the box into the bottom right-hand corner.

Now West Ham took on the slightly anxious aura that had seemed to previously hinder us.

Perhaps it was these nerves that forced Hammers defender Matthew Fry into a mistake in his own box two minutes later, enabling Under-16 striker Kudos Oyenuga, making his debut at this level, to steal in and fire against the side-netting.

Taarabt continued to find space in dangerous positions and was allowed to fire just wide from the edge of the box on 15 minutes, before home goalkeeper Marek Stech was called into action to deny skipper Ricardo Rocha at a corner moments later.

Good work from Cian Hughton and Jacques Maghoma down the left hand side on 18 minutes resulted in the latter firing a rasping shot from the edge of the box that Stech did well to tip over, and Taarabt hit a similar effort wide on 20 minutes.

West Ham needed to ease the pressure on themselves and managed to regroup and take control of the game for the middle period of the first half.

Tom Harvey found Edgar in the box on 22 minutes, and although the winger found space, he fired straight at Alnwick from six yards.

Danny Hutchins came to the rescue a minute later when he denied Harvey on the goal-line at a corner, and Jack Jeffrey was always stretching to meet Stanislas' left wing cross soon after.

Stanislas had an effort of his own on 26 minutes which took a couple of deflections and forced Alnwick to tip round the post, and 10 minutes later, Jeffrey had a goal ruled out for offside.

But we finished the first half the stronger side. On 38 minutes, Taarabt was brought down in the middle of the park but the referee allowed play to continue as Yaser Kasim broke and played in Oyenuga, who fired over from inside the box.

In the last five minutes of the half, Takura Mtandari got to the by-line and pulled back a cross which sat up nicely for Taarabt, who put his effort straight at the keeper.

And an entertaining first period was rounded off by a strong run by Hughton, at the end of which he fired over from 20 yards.

The second half started just as brightly, with Fry rising to meet Stanislas' inswinging free-kick and hitting Alnwick's right-hand post with a header three minutes in.

But ultimately, the second period was to produce far less action than the first and it seemed as if the game was heading for a draw.

The best chances of the half had fallen to the home side. With a quarter of an hour left, Edgar was put clean through for his second of the game, but Alnwick stood up well to save. And just after, substitute Daniel Kearns fired inches wide of the post.

But again, out of nothing, a bit of Taarabt magic on 83 minutes bagged the three points, as he won possession in the middle of the park, ran at the back-tracking defence, and fired an unerring shot into the back of the net from the edge of the box.

There was still time for Alnwick to go flying through the air to the rescue as he kept out Fry's late header at full stretch.

But in stoppage time, Hutton was brought down in the box, allowing Taarabt to step up and complete his hat-trick from the spot and put victory beyond any doubt.

Spurs (4-4-1-1): Alnwick; Mtandari, Rocha (Caulker, 46), Berchiche (Cox, 55), Hughton; D Hutton, Hutchins, Kasim, Maghoma; Taarabt; Oyenuga (Byrne, 74)
Subs not used: Button, Nicholson

West Ham (4-4-2): Stech; O'Neill, Payne, Fry, Miller (McNaughton, 74); Edgar, Harvey, Grasser (Kearns, 48), Stanislas; Jeffrey, Hines (Bajner, 79)
Subs not used: Loveday, Abdulla