The West Ham United U18s camp is a pretty good place to be right now.
Top of the U18 Premier League South division by 13 points, the young Hammers secured their spot in the FA Youth Cup quarter finals on Friday thanks to an impressive 4-1 win away to Stoke City.
It is the first time in 18 years a West Ham youth team have reached the last eight of the competition and Patrick Kelly, who played the full 90 minutes at the bet665 Stadium, is relishing being in this group of places.
“There’s a great buzz around the U18s at the minute,” the midfielder told whufc.com. “We knew coming into the Stoke game, playing on their home pitch, that we could bring the ball down and pass it around.
“We did the analysis around doing that, and we knew how they were going to set up, and we dealt with them very well. We were able to score a lot of goals, and it was a very good performance.
“I think playing in games like this, in these stadiums, is a great experience for us. Especially with a bit of a crowd there too. That allow us to play what we feel is our better football. In this game, we knew playing at a ground like this, we could get the better of Stoke and get the win.”
The Irons stormed into a two-goal advantage as Lewis Orford blasted home from inside the box with a swivelling effort, before Divin Mubama scored a superb header to double the lead before half-time.
In truth, Kevin Keen’s side could have been even further ahead come the interval, something Kelly recognised, and was glad to see Mubama add his own personal second goal and George Earthy also score early in the second half.
“I think 2-0 flattered Stoke a little bit really,” he continued. “We should have been three or four goals up going into the second half but thankfully we were able to get two more goals quite early in the second half.
“We probably should have scored more though so that gives us something to work on going forward.”
Ipswich Town await the Hammers in the last eight of the competition and Kelly is already eager to play the Tractor Boys, with a spot in the semi-finals up for grabs.
“Kev showed us in the meeting where the final is and what we have to do to get there. We’ve got to take each game as it comes.
“We know we’re going to Ipswich Town in the next round and they beat Liverpool, so they won’t be an easy test. We’ll go there, work hard, try to play our game, and hopefully we can get a good result.”