West Ham United played out a dramatic 1-1 Barclays U18 Premier League draw with Newcastle United at Little Heath on Saturday morning.
Defender Amos Nasha headed the home side ahead in the opening 20 minutes, but Jonathyn Quinn's bundled effort meant the sides shared the points, despite the visitors playing the whole second half with ten men after Oliver Kemen was given a straight red card.
U18 manager Steve Potts named a strong line-up as he searched for a sixth unbeaten game in a row, with captain Kieran Bywater and the speedy Jerry Amoo supporting lone striker Jordan Brown in attack. The unfamiliar partnership of Emmanual Onariase and Nasha started in the centre of defence, with regular starters Kyle Knoyle and Lewis Page completing the back four.
The game started quickly with the Hammers looking for the early goal, but Ben Marlow's effort from 25 yards did not trouble Newcastle goalkeeper Jonathan Mitchell.
It was then Bywater's turn to fire a long-range shot at goal, but although the captain went closer with his effort, he again narrowly missed the target.
West Ham were controlling the first half, with the visitors' efforts on goal limited. One of them fell to Callum Roberts, but the Toon winger failed to keep his shot down.
The home side's pressure paid off after 18 minutes when Nasha perfectly headed home Bywater's left-wing free-kick after Page was knocked to the floor.
Nasha's goal appeared to give the Hammers confidence and they launched several more attacks. None of which caused Mitchell any problems in the visitors' goal, however.
Newcastle came back strong as the first half wore on and had two chances of goal. First, Ryan McKinnon's free header from five yards went flying over the bar, before Quinn bundled the ball over the line to draw the Magpies level.
The smiles soon turned to frowns for the visitors in the closing stages of the first half, however, as Kemen reacted badly to Marlow's sliding challenge by pushing the Hammers No4 in the face, receiving a straight red card.
Into the second half and the Hammers were denied a goal after the offside Amoo knocked the ball past Toon goalkeeper Mitchell as he came flying out from his goal and rolled it into the net.
As the game continued, chances on goal dried up. The closest seemed to be when Josh Cullen's whipped effort towards the top right-hand corner forced Mitchell into a smart catch.
The Hammers continued to apply pressure to the Toon back line and had two penalty box scrambles, but the home side failed to take their chance to go ahead.
As the game stretched into the final 20 minutes and changes were made to both teams, West Ham changed their formation to a more attacking shape, looking for the all-important winning goal.
It was Amoo who was offered the next chance to win the game, but after Bywater directed a left wing cross towards him in the centre of the six-yard box, he struggled to jump high enough to control the header.
In the final stages, West Ham had two golden chances to win it, but neither Brown nor Amoo could bury the chance to grab all three points for West Ham.
The result means Potts' side extended their recent unbeaten run to six games ahead of the visit of Aston Villa on Saturday 9 November at 1pm.
U18s: Howes, Knoyle, Nasha, Onariase, Page, Cullen (Bailey), Makasi (Mavila), Marlow (Martins), Bywater, Brown, Amoo
Subs not used: Nemrava, Pask