West Ham United Under-18s 4-0 Reading Under-18s
A dynamic first-half display from Tony Carr's youngsters saw them return to winning ways on Saturday with all four goals coming in the first half.
The Academy side had lost 2-0 at Bristol City in their last outing but got their bid for the Premier Academy League Group A title back on track with a stunning display at Little Heath against another team from Group B. Goals from schoolboy triallist Ahmed Abdulla, Anthony Edgar, Oliver Lee and England Under-19 international Junior Stanislas in a 20-minute spell before half-time did the damage.
WATCH THE HIGHLIGHTS ON WHUTV
Reading are traditionally strong at this level and arrived in fourth place in Group B, having taken the runners-up spot last season. After a cagey first 20 minutes, in which both teams had their moments, the deadlock was finally broken when Ahmed Abdulla, a Saudi Arabian striker who has been with Arsenal, was set free by Edgar. He stepped inside from the left and before being closed down by two defenders bent the ball into the corner from 15 yards.
The advantage was soon doubled when Edgar tried his luck from the edge of the penalty area with a low drilled effort that sped into the goal. The third was not long in coming either. This time, dead-ball specialist Stanislas - fresh from a run-out with the Young Lions in midweek - picked out Lee with a corner and the midfielder flicked into the net. By then the game was won, but the best was yet to come.
As the interval approached, the sublime Stanislas strode forward and, after beating a couple of players, looked up to see the visiting goalkeeper just off his line. He took a touch and then curled a lofted effort up and over his head and into the back of the net. He continued to cause problems in the second half and both he and Ahmed Abdulla had further opportunities to add to their tallies.
The match was also noticeable for the strong defensive display with 16-year-old Adam Street continuing the fine form that he showed on his reserve-team debut earlier this month - incidentally also against Reading in a 2-0 victory - while Jordan Spence and Bondz N'Gala were imperious at centre-back. N'Gala and Stanislas both came off on the hour as they are in contention to figure for the reserves away to Chelsea on Monday night.
With two games to play, Carr's side are still in the hunt for the Group A title although Arsenal are the favourites. The Gunners also won well on Saturday with a 6-0 victory in their game against Group B visitors Cardiff City and have two games in hand on United who only have two games left to play.
West Ham United: Street, Brookes, Spence, N'Gala (Ashman 60), Miller, Harvey (Okus 60), Kearns, Lee, Edgar, Stanislas (Montano 60), Ahmed Abdulla
League table I Fixtures and results