Varian 66', 90+4' (pen)
Stoke City vs West Ham United
West Ham United U18s were eliminated from the U18 Premier League Cup on Saturday morning as they lost 4-1 away to Stoke City U18s.
Four goals in the second half for the hosts consigned the young Hammers to just their fourth defeat of the season.
With other results also not going the way of Kevin Keen’s side, the U18s finished bottom of their U18 Premier League Cup group on three points.
Academy forward Divin Mubama made his U18s debut as a substitute, and the 15-year-old managed to find the net late on in Staffordshire.
West Ham were left without a number of key players through injury and suspension but battled well in tough conditions.
Stoke City were in front just after half-time through Mohamed Sankoh, after an evenly matched first half that saw both sides go close.
The home side then quickly doubled their advantage courtesy of a fine individual effort from Ethan Varian.
West Ham U15s forward Mubama was introduced to the action in the 71st minute for his U18s debut, having impressed so far this season at youth level.
The youngster managed to make an immediate impact, getting a goal back for the Hammers from close-range which set up a tense finish.
In the closing stages, however, Stoke City were able to put the result beyond doubt. Mohamed Akanji headed home for Stoke’s third before Varian completed the scoring from the penalty spot in injury time.
Assistant coach Mark Phillips felt the U18s could have been more clinical after missing a number of first half opportunities.
“We felt that the scoreline didn’t reflect our performance,” he said. “The difference between the two teams came in the penalty box. We got ourselves into the box plenty of times, but we weren’t able to finish enough on this occasion.”
“The first goal was always going to be crucial. I thought we were the better team for the first 45 minutes but ultimately Stoke were able to take their chances.”
Goalscorer Mubama was one of a number of West Ham youth players enjoying their first taste of U18s football, and Phillips was pleased with how the youngsters got on.
“Our job is to develop players and to move players up through the U23s and beyond,” he said. “It was a massive plus today to get Divin on for his debut and to see him score.”
The U18s have followed up all of their defeats this season with impressive victories the following week, and that will be the target once again according to Phillips.
“Whenever we have lost this year we’ve always looked to have a positive reaction. We’ve lost away to Chelsea and away to Fulham and come back the following week and put in a really good performance, and we have every intention of doing the same against Aston Villa next week.”
The young Hammers currently sit fourth in the U18 Premier League South and will be looking to make it three league wins on the bounce when they host Aston Villa on 30 November at Little Heath.
West Ham United U18s: Hegyi; Greenidge, Nsumbu, Okotcha (Mubama 71), Caiger, Appiah-Forson, Woods, Chesters, Nebyla (Perkins 71), Kileba (Boaiety 84), Odubeko