West Ham United Under-18s 1-4 Crystal Palace Under-18s
Two second-half penalties helped consign West Ham United to a disappointing defeat on Saturday although there were positives to be taken.
Calum Crawley, on trial from Weymouth, had opened the scoring after just seven minutes and the home side were able to hold on to the lead until the hour mark, despite strong pressure from the visitors. However, a penalty conceded by Tony Brookes turned the tide in Palace's favour and within 12 minutes they had scored twice more before a second spot-kick in added time completed the scoring.
West Ham United started off brightly and broke the deadlock when left-back Ashley Miller, who would be sent-off for his part in the late penalty, burst down the wing and crossed for Crawley to head in from eight yards. Palace were a threat though and went close with a couple of good efforts, one flashing wide and one going over the crossbar.
The hosts at Little Heath did not really have another clear-cut opportunity until the 36th minute when Miller again broke along the left - the move coming to an end with a shot over the bar from England U19 international Junior Stanislas, who had earned his first call by his country in Wednesday's 1-0 friendly defeat in Germany. Palace will feel they could have drawn level before the break but goalkeeper Marek Stech was equal to a strong shot from the edge of the area.
The Eagles came out strongly in the second half, hitting the bar with a header on 55 minutes before finally equalising on 60 minutes when Brookes upended a visiting attacker in the area. Stech actually saved the spot-kick but Palace reacted quicker to the rebound to restore parity. Miller was then on hand five minutes later to clear off the line but soon afterwards Palace were in front when a strong solo run finished with a fine shot that gave Stech no chance.
Matt Fry spurned a good opportunity to bring West Ham United back into the contest after another good break by Miller but it was Palace who were to find the net again almost immediately. A ball to the back post led to a header that gave Stech no chance to save. Oliver Lee, on as substitute for the tiring Stanislas, headed wide as time ticked away but the points were on their way to south London - a fact confirmed in the second minute of added time when Miller handled on the line and Palace stepped up to convert from the spot again.
Youth-team coach Paul Hilton said: "Palace were the better team on the day and deserved the victory. Defensively we were under a fair bit of pressure and coped quite well until they got the first penalty but in possession of the ball we didn't create enough openings and were beaten by the better team. The key is how they react, they have got to learn from it."
Regarding Stanislas, Hilton said the in-form 17-year-old midfielder had "felt a little bit fatigued" following his midweek trip with England. "It is something he will hopefully experience more and more," said Hilton. "It was the first time he has been away with England and dealt with the experience of travelling to Germany, flying back and then coming back to training. It is still a learning curve for him as a player."
West Ham United: Stech, Brookes (O'Neill 78), Spence, Payne, Miller, Harvey (N'Gala 67), Kearns, Crawley, Stanislas (Lee 58), Hunt, Fry.