El Ghanassy notches first goal at The Hawthorns
YASSINE El Ghanassy netted his first goal at The Hawthorns as Albion drew 1-1 with West Ham in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League this afternoon.
The 22-year-old winger put the Baggies ahead inside five minutes but West Ham were level through Robert Hall only three minutes later.
Albion were the better side throughout the game but were left ruing a host of missed chances – with West Ham keeper Raphael Spiegel adding to the Baggies’ frustrations with a number of first-class saves.
Under-21s coach David Oldfield rang four changes to the side that drew 2-2 with Blackburn just under two weeks ago.
Kemar Roofe, Kayelden Brown, Liam O’Neil and Adil Nabi made way for Markus Rosenberg, Gabriel Tamas, George Thorne and El Ghanassy.
Albion were ahead after only five minutes when El Ghanassy’s stunning right-foot strike found the bottom left-hand corner of the net following a 50-yard meandering run.
The on-loan winger propelled forward from Luke Daniels’ long throw before drilling the ball past Spiegel in the West Ham goal from 18 yards.
But the Hammers were level inside three minutes when Hall’s powerful left-foot free-kick flew inside the right-hand post from 25 yards.
Romaine Sawyers could and should have put Albion ahead on 27 but his tame left-foot effort was comfortably gathered by Spiegel from eight yards.
Luke Daniels made a fine one-handed reflex save to keep the scores level two minutes later – diving to his right to stop Hammers skipper Callum Driver’s right-foot shot from six yards.
And Daniels had to make an even better save to keep out Paul McCallum’s goal-bound header five minutes before the break.
Moments later, Rosenberg directed a right-foot effort directly at Spiegel from 18 yards when he could have done better.
The Baggies had the better of the second-half opening exchanges and could have re-taken the lead through Thorne.
The 19-year-old midfielder was unable to steer Sawyers’ throughball inside the near post.
And Sawyers halted the game on 50 minutes when his powerful goalbound volley was stopped by Irons goalscorer Hall.
The 18-year-old winger, who featured as a substitute in West Ham’s 3-0 triumph over Fulham two weeks ago, received treatment to his nether regions for over three minutes following the block.
Saido Berahino carved out another chance for Sawyers on 56 but he was again denied by an excellent, instinctive save from Spiegel.
El Ghanassy’s 20-yard free-kick looked set to separate the two teams on 70 minutes but Spiegel again rose to the challenge and tipped over for a corner.
And Tamas made a late run into the area to volley El Ghanassy’s pin-point cross wide of the left-hand post from the resulting corner.
Spiegel made another fantastic save to deny Thorne three minutes later – after Hurst and Rosenberg combined to play in the young Englishman. Thorne’s right-foot strike was parried by the 19-year-old former Grasshopper goalkeeper.
Berahino had Albion’s final chance of the game in the 82nd minute, but again was denied by Spiegel, who capped off a fine performance with another save.
ALBION (4-2-3-1): L Daniels; Hurst, D Daniels, Tamas, Gayle; Thorne (c), Mantom; Sawyers (Allan 68), El Ghanassy (Nabi 82), Rosenberg (Roofe 76); Berahino. Subs not used: Lewis (gk); O’Neil.
WEST HAM (4-4-2): Spiegel; Driver (c), Moncur, Chambers, Fanimo; Spence, Turgott, Lletget, Hall; McCallum, Lee (Ruddock 76). Subs not used: Hunt, Rosique, Wearen, Powell.
GOALS: Albion - El Ghanassy (5). West Ham - Hall (8).
REFEREE: S Garratt (West Midlands)
ALBION STARMAN: Yassine El Ghanassy.