West Ham United secured a deserved 2-1 victory over Liverpool in their final home game of the Premier U18 League Tier One Stage at Little Heath on Saturday.
Goals for the Hammers in the opening half-hour from Joe Ward and Nathan Mavila (pictured) put the Hammers on course for victory; with Alex O'Hanlon's second-half strike only a consolation for the visiting Reds.
Both sides named a host of young players in their starting line-ups, with Potts giving starts to Vit Nemrava, Nathan Mavila, Reece Burke and Taylor Miles, who were all part of Nick Haycock's Development Squad for their own 2-1 Barclays U21 Premier League victory over Liverpool on Friday evening.
With both teams aiming to get some points on the board before the end of the season, the game started in very lively fashion. The visitors looked more comfortable with the ball in the midfield, but West Ham were looking more dangerous in attack.
The Hammers were ahead after ten minutes. As West Ham attacked regularly down both wings, it was Mavila who was released down the left flank, making a low cross to the unmarked Ward, who directed the ball into the bottom left-hand corner of the net.
Liverpool tried to react straight away, but just ten minutes later, Ward and Mavila linked up again on the counter attack. As Ward progressed over the halfway line, Mavila sprinted through the defence to prepare to receive the ball, but Ward failed to put enough pace on the ball and the pass was intercepted.
Just before the half-hour mark, West Ham doubled their lead. A long ball forward from Emmanuel Onaraise was aimed at Mavila, who turned his marker on the halfway line to run through on goal, taking his time before powering his shot into the corner of the net.
Before the break, Liverpool had a clear opportunity on goal to get back into the game. From a corner, the ball found Danny Cleary in the box, but the defender sliced his effort straight into the hands of schoolboy goalkeeper Nemrava.
After the break, Liverpool came out much quicker, looking to put pressure on a strong Hammers defence.
Ten minutes into the second half, the Merseysiders got the goal they had been searching for. An unlikely mistake in the home back line gave O'Hanlon a chance to run through on goal, and he kept his cool to slot past Nemrava.
The goal gave Liverpool inspiration to push for the equaliser, but the Hammers stayed strong and cleared all the danger, reducing their opponents to long-range shots.
In the closing stages of the game, Liverpool were starting to get frustrated. Despite the extensive periods of possession and territory enjoyed by the visitors, West Ham held on to take all three points.
West Ham end their Barclays U18 Premier League Tier One stage season with a trip to Stoke City next Saturday..
West Ham United U18s: Nemrava, Knoyle, Page, Burke, Harney, Onaraise, Makasi, Miles (Girdlestone) (Gogo), Ward (Boakye-Yiadom), Parfitt-Williams, Mavila
Subs not used: Brown, Pike