West Ham United Under-18s 3-3 Charlton Athletic Under-18s
Freddie Sears underlined his burgeoning potential with yet another crucial goal for Tony Carr's youth side on Saturday.
The 18-year-old striker has had quite a week. He travelled with the first team to Manchester City last Sunday, started in attack alongside Craig Bellamy in the reserves on Wednesday and then struck a deserved equaliser to earn a 3-3 draw for the Academy side at home against Charlton Athletic. The Hammers had led 2-0 at one point but were pegged back by a spirited performance by their London rivals.
Youth academy director Tony Carr said: "I am pleased we came back and showed a bit of character to get something but a little bit concerned that we made basic errors to let a team we had there for the beating back into the game. We will do analysis and work on the training ground to make sure that it doesn't happen again. It was a lack of communication and lack of people taking responsibility."
Of Sears, Carr added: "He had a quiet game today but he notched a goal. That is goalscorers, you can never keep them quiet. They will have quiet spells in a game but they are always likely to score. He played in midweek and we have asked a lot of him to play two games in four days but that is going to happen occasionally. It doesn't happen every week."
On a fresh morning at Little Heath, it was an even contest before West Ham United struck twice inside 20 minutes to take a commanding lead. First, Oliver Lee - son of former Hammers and Charlton midfielder Robert - headed in from a Daniel Kearns' cross before an outstanding passing move saw Tom Harvey finish it off with a curling shot into the far corner. "It was a great goal, in terms of the movement and passing," said Carr.
However, just as it looked the home side would build on their lead, Charlton pulled one back after poor marking at a free-kick allowed a headed goal for Yado Mambo. Then, a mistake by Junior Stanislas - playing his first game since suffering a bruised foot in December - allowed them to break down the flank. A decent cross into the box, led to good control and a fine finish by Danny Uchechi to ensure it was honours even at the break.
After the interval, "the worst possible thing happened" as Charlton again capitalised on poor decision-making to go 3-2 up through Scott Wagstaff. However, Carr was pleased by the conviction his team showed at that point. "It was one of those where you think we are going to go one of two ways here - we either going to get beat 4-2, 5-2 or we are going to roll our sleeves up and fight our way back into the game and we did just that fortunately. We got back into the game and started to create chances."
From one of those opportunites, Sears - who had scored both goals in the 2-0 victory against Millwall on the U18s' last outing on 12 January - pounced to score with his left foot after Robbie Blackwell fed Kearns, who then crossed low for the predatory Sears. Having levelled matters, Ben Hunt then looked to have sealed victory when he struck five minutes from time, only for the assistant referee to raise his flag for a questionable offside.
West Ham United: Street, O'Neill, Ashman, Spence, Blackwell (Brown 78), Stanislas (Edgar 60), Harvey (Okus 46), Lee, Kearns, Sears, Hunt,