Mo Faal 21
Alex Williams 63
George Earthy 17
Divin Mubama 58 (pen)
West Brom vs West Ham United
West Bromwich Albion U18s 2-2 West Ham United U18s
U18 Premier League South
West Ham United’s youth team put in a good performance to claim a 2-2 draw at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday morning.
Kevin Keen’s Under-18s began the game with no fewer than four Under-16s players in their starting line-up, continuing a trend which has seen numerous Academy of Football starlets test themselves beyond their natural age groups this season.
Having picked up three wins from their previous four U18 Premier League South matches, confidence was high in the Claret and Blue ranks as they travelled to West Brom’s set-up at Birmingham County FA.
The young Hammers were also bolstered by the return of 17-year-old Amadou Diallo, the forward making his first competitive start in almost nine months having recovered from injury.
It was England U17 international Diallo who created the game’s opening goal after 17 minutes, dropping his shoulder and showing a neat change of pace to burst past his marker on the left wing.
He played the ball centrally to 16-year-old George Earthy, the midfielder making his first start at U18s level, who took two touches to open his body up before unleashing a fierce strike into the bottom corner from 20 yards.
The visitors’ lead didn’t last long, however as a high ball into the box wasn’t dealt with, allowing West Brom’s Mo Faal to slide in and poke home an equaliser three minutes later.
The Irons would retake the lead after 58 minutes when Divin Mubama powered a penalty kick high into the side-netting for his third league goal in as many games.
But West Brom once again provided an immediate response when, five minutes later, Aurio Teixeira slipped his way into the penalty area and, from the by-line, pulled back for Alex Williams to tap in.
The two teams continued to exchange chances with both goalkeepers excelling, Krisztian Hegyi producing several fine stops in the West Ham goal, but Keen was pleased his young side showed maturity in claiming a hard-fought point from the midday kick-off.
“I thought the result was a fair reflection of the game,” he told whufc.com.
“They could have won it had Krisztian Hegyi not made a couple of excellent saves in the second half, but we could have won it when their keeper made a couple of fantastic saves in the second half as well.
“The game swung backwards and forwards, but overall I was really pleased with how such a young team could go away to the Midlands early in the morning and came back with a point. I think it was a really good effort from the squad.
“We had four Under-16s in the starting line-up. Certainly since I’ve been here since the start of last season, I’ve not had that before, but they all performed brilliantly.
“Divin got his third goal in three league games, and as a centre-forward that’s all you can ask for, while George Earthy, making his first start, provided a fantastic goal and a really good performance.
“Kaelan Casey, making his first start, was outstanding at centre-back, and Regan Clayton has been really steady at left-back. It was his fourth start and he’s done fantastically well since coming into the side.
“There was also another big plus for the Academy: a first league start for Amadou Diallo in almost nine months. His first-half cameo performance was really strong.
“As a senior player in the team, he led them well, providing the assist for the goal and producing two or three really good attacking moments which could have ended up with more goals. He looked sharp – his return is a big plus for the U18s and a big plus for the U23s.”
The U18s’ next fixture sees them travel to Kenilworth Road to face Luton Town’s U18s in the third round of the FA Youth Cup. The tie will kick-off at 7pm on Thursday 3 December and will be played behind-closed-doors.
West Ham United: Hegyi; Robinson, Thomas (Tichmarsh 85), Casey, Clayton (Evans 90), Coddington, Woods, Earthy, Perkins, Diallo (Kileba 46), Mubama
Subs: Sanneh, Falase
Goals: Earthy 17, Mubama 58 (pen)