A goal at either end of the 90 minutes was enough to see West Ham United's Under-18 side continue their perfect start to 2009 with a 2-1 victory over Charlton Athletic.
Tony Carr's team won their third consecutive FA Premier Academy League game in difficult, blustery conditions at Little Heath. The Hammers opened the scoring after just two minutes through Anthony Edgar. The Addicks, who had won the reverse fixture by the same scoreline in November, came back strongly and equalised on the half-hour mark, only for England Under-16 international striker Robert Hall to nick the three points with an opportunist strike with only three minutes remaining.
Afterwards, Carr was delighted with his team's commitment and also the performances of a number of Under-16 squad members - namely strikers Subuola and Hall and full-back Miles Smith - called upon due to injuries to Balint Bajner, Filip Modelski and Tony Brookes.
"It wasn't the best of games, I must admit. The wind played a massive factor and it did spoil the quality of the game to be honest. We scored very early from a Daniel Subuola cross and Anthony Edgar controlled and hit the ball low, right-footed into the goal. That was one-nil, a really good start after two minutes.
"We were bright for about ten or 15 minutes after that but Charlton had the better of the remainder of the half and equalised on about 30 minutes and made it one-one. In the second half the wind was at our backs and we really pressed them. They had the odd counterattack but it wasn't the best of games.
"It looked as if it was going to peter into a draw. Their goalkeeper made two outstanding saves - one from Conor Okus and one from Miles Smith - that on a better day would surely have been goals. Christian Montano then put through-ball to Robert Hall, who had come on as sub, and the goalkeeper looked favourite to get it. He did get it at first but then, as he dived to the ground, he somehow let it out of his grasp and Robert swivelled on it and curled it into the net from an acute angle. We just nicked it in the 88th minute.
"This time of year we're starting to blood some of the younger players so our squad will get younger as the season progresses. Miles, who made his debut last week at right-back, is a schoolboy. Daniel started his first game for us and Robert is a year younger at 15.
"We were obviously pleased to win it even if it wasn't the best of games. We've now taken nine points from our last three games and it's pushed us right up the table to fourth place. We stuck in there and just about edged it on chances. It's a terrific start to the new year."
West Ham United: Loveday, Smith, Brown, McNaughton, Fry, Edgar, Lee, Grasser (Okus 46), Montano, Subuola (Hall 70), Abdulla,
Subs not used: Mehmet, Driver