Cloud Nine For Kids

While times may be tough for West Ham United's first team at present, the same certainly can not be said for our youth teams, who bagged nine goals between them against Reading on Saturday morning. Tony Carr's under-19 side won 6-0, while the under-17s secured a 3-1 victory.

Goals from Graeme Carrick, Darren Blewitt (2), Mitchell Cole, Freddy Eastwood and Billy Mehmet gave the older boys a stunning win over the Royals and ensured they remain top of their Group C Academy League table.

The Hammers got off to a flying start when Carrick headed home a cross from Daryl McMahon in the fourth minute, but it surprisingly stayed at 1-0 until half-time, as Reading fought back and enjoyed a fair amount of possession.

However, their resistance was broken on the hour when Blewitt ghosted in unmarked at the far post to head in a McMahon free-kick from the left, and Reading were then left shell-shocked as Hammers embarked on a scoring spree to add another four strikes within 20 minutes.

Blewitt grabbed in his second, lashing home after Carrick's header had been parried, while Cole scored the first from open play when he volleyed in at the far post.

Substitute Eastwood added the fifth with a neat turn and finish following a low corner, and Mehmet rounded off a superb display when he broke away on the counter-attack before rounding the goalkeeper and tapping into an empty net.

Said Tony Carr afterwards: "Reading were a bit aggrieved with the scoreline and, to be honest, it wasn't really a 6-0 thrashing - just one of those days where everything seemed to go in for us in the second half.

"They had trouble dealing with set-pieces - four of our goals came from corners or free-kicks - and we took advantage of that.

"Reading had a fair measure of the play after we had scored the first goal but never really threatened to score themselves and, once we had grabbed the second and third, it was all over.

"After two successive 2-2 draws and a one week break, it's very pleasing to come back and win so convincingly. I am even more pleased with the fact that we kept a clean sheet, because defensively we have slipped up slightly in recent weeks, but we were solid again today."

"We have a nice cushion at the top of the league now and have an important game next week against Fulham - our nearest challengers - before the Academy takes a break for Christmas."

Team: Jackson, McClenahan, Tattam, Laws, Blewitt, Lumsden (Khan 68), McMahon, Carrick, Mehmet, Pearson (Eastwood 68), Cole. Subs unused: Sealey, Fletcher, Morris.

Meanwhile, a double strike from Marce Collington and one from Chris Cohen gave the under-17s a comfortable victory over a very young Reading side containing a number of schoolboy players.

After starting poorly, the Hammers picked things up midway through the first half and took the lead 10 minutes before half-time when Collington played a one-two on the edge of the penalty area and fired an excellent shot low into the far corner of the net.

10 minutes after the break, the young striker doubled his tally with a similar effort, and the third arrived with 15 minutes remaining when Ollie Allen cut the ball back for Cohen to rocket an unstoppable effort into the roof of the net from 18 yards out.

Reading grabbed a consolation with virtually the final kick of the game, but by then the points were already safe for Hammers.

Said Kevin Keen afterwards: "It was a good result, but I would say an adequate performance. We didn't play very well in the opening 20 minutes, but then got things going as the first half wore on and scored a good goal.

"Once we added the other two in the second half, things were comfortable enough, although it was slightly disappointing to be denied a clean sheet when they scored in the last minute.

"It gets us back to winning ways, though, and gives us a bit of confidence before we face Fulham next week."

Team: Reed, Bunce, Parrington, Henry, Wright, Yao, Tucker, Shaw (Ketchell 85), Cohen, Collington (O.Allen 65), Lee (Welsh 75). Subs unused: Behcet, Singh.