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West Ham youngster so close to Roy of the Rovers moment

17:30 28 November 2016

Manchester United's Phil Jones (right) and West Ham United's Ashley Fletcher ... Manchester United v West Ham United - Premier League - Old Trafford  ... 27-11-2016 ... Manchester  ... UK ... Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport. Unique Reference No. 29294252 ...

Manchester United's Phil Jones (right) and West Ham United's Ashley Fletcher ... Manchester United v West Ham United - Premier League - Old Trafford ... 27-11-2016 ... Manchester ... UK ... Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport. Unique Reference No. 29294252 ...

EMPICS Sport

Hammers striker Ashley Fletcher looks to have a bright future at the club

West Ham United's Ashley FletcherWest Ham United's Ashley Fletcher

It was a real Roy of the Rovers moment. A minute to go at Old Trafford and a former Manchester United youngster carves out a chance to score the winner for his new team.

Life is not always like the comic books though and Ashley Fletcher’s shot was blocked by David De Gea and the chance was gone in an instant.

“It is going to haunt me I think,” said Fletcher after his first professional appearance at the famous ground. “Last minute at Old Trafford, it would have been a dream.

“But to be fair I should have know when you have De Gea in there it is always going to be difficult, you have to produce something special.”

Astra Giurgiu's Fabricio (left) and West Ham United's Ashley Fletcher (centre) battle for the ball during the UEFA Europa League - Play Off match at the London Stadium, London.Astra Giurgiu's Fabricio (left) and West Ham United's Ashley Fletcher (centre) battle for the ball during the UEFA Europa League - Play Off match at the London Stadium, London.

It was something of a surprise when it was the youngster who came on for Diafra Sakho ahead of Simone Zaza.

“You have always got to be ready as a player and expect to come on and I was ready,” said the 21-year-old. “I like to think I made an impact when I came on too, so hopefully I can keep showing the West Ham fans and staff what I am about.”

He certainly did that. Unlike Zaza he caused the defence real problems. He held the ball up, took players on and he was not afraid to get into the box and have a go.

When he was at United, Fletcher never got a chance to play for the first team so this was a special day for him.

Manchester City's Nicholas Otamendi in action with West Ham United's Ashley Fletcher (left)Manchester City's Nicholas Otamendi in action with West Ham United's Ashley Fletcher (left)

“It is a different level here,” he said. “To come out in front of 75,000 fans is incredible. I used to come here as a fan so I know what it is all about.

“The West Ham fans were tremendous as well and this is something I have dreamed of.”

In the crowd at Old Trafford was Ashley’s dad, a huge United fan who switched allegiances for the day.

“The whole family was here watching,” he said with a smile. “I think I saw my dad out of the corner of my eye jumping up and down after I had my chance to score. He was not cheering on Man United, he was cheering on me.”

That is how it should be, of course, and will be again on Wednesday when Fletcher will have a chance of starting because of the injury to Diafra Sakho.

“It is going to be tough again, but if we play like we did on Sunday and get that little bit of luck that we haven’t had over the last couple of games, then we would like to think that we can get something out of it.”

Sakho’s early striker was the first scored by any striker at the club this season and Fletcher knows only too well that has to change.

“Sakho gives us a different dimension and I was so pleased when he scored. Every forward here is different. We have got Andy Carroll who will be back in the next couple of games, we have got Sakho, me and Zaza and Calleri as well so there is plenty of competition.

“All of us need to start scoring though, including me.”

He was so close to doing just that at Old Trafford and on this form it only seems a matter of time before he does.

“I am disappointed that I didn’t score,” he said. “It was my big chance and I was ready to celebrate, running over to the West Ham fans. I am sure my first goal will come soon.”

Let’s all hope so.

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