Brighton & Hove Albion U18s 1-3 West Ham United U18s
U18 Premier League South Division, Saturday 23 September, 11am BST
West Ham United U18s came from behind to secure an impressive 3-1 victory against Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday morning.
Jerry Umolu scored either side of half-time to give the Irons the lead before Dan Rigge put the result beyond all doubt with 72 minutes played. Kevin Keen’s side extend their unbeaten run to four matches in all competitions, as a result.
The Hammers were keen to make a fast start at The Amex Elite Football Performance Centre and Josh Ajala almost opened the scoring inside five minutes. The striker forced Lorenz Ferdinand into an outstanding early save and Josh Briggs also saw his strike deflect narrowly over the crossbar moments later.
Despite the Irons’ fast start, Brighton opened the scoring. Zane Albarus poked the ball into the bottom left corner after a scramble in the penalty area.
The Hammers looked for a response and Ajala saw another effort tipped behind for a corner before Ezra Mayers made a goal saving challenge midway through the first half.
Pushing forwards, the U18s were finally rewarded at the end of the first half when Umolu raced onto a long pass and drilled the ball into the bottom right corner from the edge of the box.
Umolu then put the visitors in front after the interval. The striker impressively smashed the ball past Ferdinand and into the back of the net to secure his brace.
Fin Herrick was called into action to deny Aidan West before Umolu and Dan Rigge both saw their efforts bounce off the post.
But the Irons got an important third when Rigge found the back of the net with just under 20 minutes remaining.
His strike deflected past Ferdinand to secure their third league win on the bounce.
West Ham United U18s: Herrick, Battrum, Briggs, Mayers, Medine, Jones (Adeile 59), Caliste, Fearon (Akpata 59), Rigge, Ajala (Fawunmi 64), Umolu (Uwandji 77)
Subs: Abraham (GK)
Goals: Umolu 45+1, 49, Rigge 72
Keen praises resilient Hammers
U18s lead coach Kevin Keen was delighted with his side’s response after falling a goal behind in the opening quarter of an hour.
The young Hammers have now scored twelve goals in their last four matches in all competitions and the Irons were in fine goal scoring form again on the south coast.
Keen began: “I’m really pleased. We went 1-0 down and Brighton are a really good team. They have a way of playing and it can be difficult to get the ball off them at times.
"We worked on that during training though and I think the boys executed the game plan really well.
“It’s a spirited, hard working group with some flair and excitement. We are really starting to gel as a team now.”
The Hammers created several chances at the end of the first half with Ajala and Mayers both coming close to opening the scoring before Umolu equalised.
Keen suggested that it was crucial to get a goal before the break after a period of dominance.
He continued: “The goal before half-time was really important. We didn’t want to be behind at half-time after creating so many good chances. We started the second half superbly after that. Our shape was fantastic, we got Dan Rigge on the ball a lot and Josh Ajala too.
“We scored two really good goals in the second half, Jerry’s goal in particular was a top strike. We were aggressive on the ball and also when we were pressing. We were also defensively strong when we needed to be so I’m really pleased with the group today.”
The young Irons are unbeaten since a defeat against Arsenal on the opening day of the season.
And, as such, Keen’s side now sit third in the U18 Premier League South division after picking up nine points from a possible twelve.
“I’m really pleased with the group," he added. "The second years are setting an example but we also have some fantastic, talented first years. The young players have shown how good they are and we are improving all of the time as a squad.
“There’s a really good feel to what we are doing so we want to keep that going. We want to have a real go at trying to achieve something special.”
Umolu continues goal-scoring run with brace
Jerry Umolu played a key role as the Hammers came from a goal behind to beat Brighton 3-1 on Saturday.
The striker scored two goals either side of half-time to give the Hammers the lead before Dan Rigge made sure of the victory in the last 20 minutes.
“It was a really challenging game and it wasn’t ideal to go 1-0 down.” Umolu explained. “But we stuck together as a team and we came back into it. We’ve been working hard on the training ground and it all came to fruition today.
“I was pleased to score at the end of the first half to make it 1-1 and then I made it 2-1 after the break. The lads stayed together, we were resilient and Dan Rigge got a third for us to seal the three points. It was a really good team performance and a really good result.”
Umolu buried his two goals superbly before bursting down the right flank and hitting the post midway through the second half.
Despite being delighted with his two goals, the No9 was slightly disappointed not to be walking away with the match ball.
“For the first goal, I managed to chest the ball down and get in front of my man before hitting the ball across goal into the bottom corner. The second one is what people would describe as a typical Jerry goal. I pinned my defender, spun and hit the ball across goal.
“It was two good finishes but I should’ve had a third. I worked really hard to get from the halfway line to their penalty area and I’ve hit it across goal but unfortunately, it’s hit the post. It should’ve been a goal but you can’t score them all. We’ll go again next week.”
West Ham United U18s are next in action against Norwich City.
The game will take place on Saturday 30 September, with kick-off set for 12pm.