West Ham United's youngsters were left to rue a series defensive mistakes as they suffered a 4-0 Barclays U18 Premier League defeat by Bolton Wanderers at Little Heath on Saturday.
The Hammers created plenty of chances, only for errors in their own third of the pitch to cost them dear against the Group 1 leaders. At the other end, Taylor Tombides and Nana Boakye-Yiadom were both guilty of missing clear-cut chances to get their names on the scoresheet.
Bolton went ahead when a West Ham throw-in deep inside their own half saw George Iliev steal possession before finding Tom Youngs. Youngs played a one-two with Zack Clough before cutting the ball back for Elliott Newby to slot confidently past Sam Baxter from 12 yards.
It got worse for the hosts when Che Alexander's pass into midfield was intercepted by Luke Woodland, who then ran forward before beating Baxter with a low shot from 25 yards.
Bolton went further clear when Josh Cullen was caught in possession by Clough, who burst between the England Under-16 midfielder and Rob Girdlestone and into the penalty area. Baxter could only parry Clough's initial shot into the air, allowing the Bolton No9 to head the ball into the unguarded net.
The Trotters completed a comprehensive victory when Bulgarian youngster Iliev collected a throw-in before spinning away from Alexander and curling a shot high over Baxter and into the net from the left corner of the box.
While they were beaten, West Ham created plenty of chances themselves but failed to seriously test Bolton goalkeeper Jan-Ole Sievers. Boakye-Yiadom could only flick the ball across the face of goal after latching on to a short backpass before the unmarked Tombides volleyed wide and headed over from two inviting left-wing crosses. Taylor Miles did bring Sievers into the action late on, but his low shot was straight at the German stopper.
Defeat at Little Heath leaves West Ham fifth in the Group 1 table on ten points from eight games. Bolton, meanwhile, are now eight points clear at the top, having won seven and drawn one of their opening eight matches.
The Under-18s return to Barclays U18 Premier League Group 1 action at fourth-place Everton on Saturday 27 October.
Under-18s: Baxter, Alexander, Onnariase (Page 81), Nasha (Girdlestone 46), Shaw, Cullen, Bywater, Boakye-Yiadom (Miles 78), Mavila, Sadlier, T.Tombides
Subs not used: Howes, Gogo