Youths Draw At Birmingham

WEST Ham United Under-18s fought back to draw 1-1 at Birmingham City in the Premier Academy Under-18 League.

The home side started positively and on seven minutes Nick Wright wriggled into the Hammers penalty area, but scuffed his shot allowing goalkeeper Eren Kemal to make the save.

Kemal was called into action again to deny Wright two minutes later as the Birmingham forward went clear on goal. The goalkeeper raced from his line to make a superb block, but paid the price for his bravery with a damaged ankle that saw him stretchered off and replaced by David Blackmore.

Two minutes later Birmingham took the lead when the busy Wright crossed for Nathanial Howell, who executed a flying overhead kick that rebounded off the post for Brett Hinks to drill home from close range.

Hammers fought hard for their scoring chances and after Howell had squandered a good chance Jack Jeffrey set up Lee Hales for West Ham's best opportunity of the first-half, but his shot was deflected away for a corner as Tony Carr's men went in trailing 1-0 at the break.

HT: 0-1

The second-half saw Tony Carr introduce Kyel Reid and Hogan Ephraim as he looked to force a way back into the game.

But it was the Blues who were still looking dangerous, Sone Aluko shooting just wide of Blackmore's right-hand post. Moments later Blackmore was forced into a fine save from Oliver Harrthill's effort, before Hammers slowly began to assert their authority on the match.

Ephraim's cheeky flick released Ishmael Welsh on 71 minutes and his cross was met by Reid who hit his shot just wide of the upright.

It was a warning Birmingham failed to heed and on 74 minutes Hammers punished the home side with an equaliser. Ishmael Welsh swung in a cross that the Birmingham defence cleared to Kyel Reid 25 yards from goal.

Reid returned it with interest, unleashing a rocket that was still rising when it smashed into the back of the Birmingham net.

Hammers might have had a penalty late on when Reid went down surrounded by Birmingham defenders, but the referee waved play on and the game ended with West Ham claiming a deserved share of the spoils.
WHU: Kemal (Blackmore 13), Andrews, Widdowson, White, N'Gala, Hales (Reid 66), Davidson (Ephraim 60), Collison, Jeffrey, Cowley, Welsh, Subs unused: Henry, Hines, Fitzgerald.

By Tony Fowles, Ironworks Gazette