Youths hit by late blow

A last-minute winner condemned West Ham United's under-18 side to a 3-2 defeat at Reading on Saturday morning.

Despite twice taking the lead in the first half and dominating the second half, Hammers were hit by a sucker punch in the final minute as the hosts converted their one and only effort on target after the break.

Tony Carr's team made the brighter start and took the lead after just 20 minutes, when Hogan Ephraim crossed for Jack Collison to head home from close range.

Reading were level soon after, but Hammers restored their advantage almost immediately, as Ishmael Welsh executed a cool left-foot finish from the edge of the penalty area.

However, after losing possession in midfield, the visitors were pegged back again before the break, although there was a claim for offside as Reading grabbed their second equaliser of the game.

Hammers came out for the second half in determined mood and went on to completely dominate proceedings. Substitute Zavon Hines almost grabbed a third but saw his effort hit the post, and the vital breakthrough just wouldn't come for Carr's team.

With just seconds remaining, they were made to pay, as Reading broke away and, with their first shot of the entire second half, secured all three points.

Tony Carr said afterwards: "To come away from this game with nothing is a real blow, because we should have won comfortably.

"We let them back into the game twice after taking the lead in the first half but, after dominating the second half, it should have been there for the taking.

"It was wave after wave of attack, but we just couldn't find the cutting edge, and they hit us with a complete sucker punch in the final minute.

"Overall, very disappointing, but the boys will keep battling and, with three games left, there is still the chance for us to finish the season on a high."

Hammers: Kemal; Widdowson, Tomkins, Ngala, Fitzgerald (Henry 55); Reid, Harvey (Hales 85), Collison, Welsh; Jeffery (Hines 70), Ephraim. Subs unused: Andrews.