West Ham United FC drew 3-3 with Stellenbosch FC in their final group stage fixture of the Next Generation Cup at the Reliance Corporate Park (RCP) here on Tuesday.
The result helps Stellenbosch book a place in the final of the tournament, to be held with the eventual first-place occupants of Group B at RCP on Friday.
Some incredible end-to-end counter-attacking football unfolded in the match as the two teams engaged in a close tussle during the game. The opening half witnessed a goal each for both sides.
First, Kyle Bailey rounded off a clean finish in the 13th minute to get the defending champions ahead in the contest. However, West Ham responded by earning a free-kick from near the corner flag and sending in a delivery that was neatly put into the back of the net by their forward Liam Jones.
After the half-time break, Stellenbosch responded with similar energy and intensity in counter-attacks. They breached West Ham’s midfield with some slick passing and from one such attack, Roy-Keane Avontuur restored their lead in the 41st minute with a left-footed finish.
The Hammers didn’t hold back though and straightaway adopted a direct route to seal the equaliser. Their midfield released a long ball to Jones, who chimed in between two defenders to chip the ball over De Jean Ah-Shene’s head to bag his brace for the game.
West Ham looked keen to get a foot ahead in the game after having trailed twice. Gideon Kodua set up a fantastic move for them by slipping in a key pass that was put past the goalkeeper by substitute forward George Earthy.
Stellenbosch were quick to restore parity, yet again, as they pounced on the spaces surrendered by the West Ham backline to play an incisive pass to Roy-Keane Avontuur. The forward dribbled past the keeper and kicked the ball into an empty net to bring the curtains down on a thrilling game of football.