Hunt leaves it late for youths

Fulham Under-18s 1-1 West Ham United Under-18s

Ben Hunt's 89th-minute goal earned West Ham United a draw at Fulham on Friday afternoon although academy director Tony Carr felt a point was the least his side deserved.

The visitors had gone behind in the 20th minute to a deflected shot that gave Marek Stech no chance before Fulham "defended for their lives" in a bid to protect their lead. However, Carr's side refused to give in and got the goal their efforts deserved. Hunt was the hero, with the young striker pouncing on a ball into the box to fire in from 12 yards.

Another positive for the young Hammers was that Freddie Sears returned after his lay-off with an ankle injury and played the entire fixture. The England youth international striker had a shot cleared off the line while Josh Payne twice saw headers saved, one in each half. It was an encouraging display against opponents who had managed to secure a 1-0 win at Little Heath on the first day of this season.

Having won 2-0 at Ipswich Town last weekend, West Ham United threatened throughout the contest against hosts who began the day ranked third in the table, two places and four points above them. Carr said it was an impressive display of attacking football. "We had balls flashing across the box and there were two or three occasions where their goalkeeper has pulled off saves or defenders have put themselves on the line to block.

Carr, who said the corner count was 20 to 2 in the visitors' favour, added: "It was a good game and we played very well. We dominated from start to finish but just couldn't score. We should have won arguably on the chances we had. They are a good side but we played them off the park at times. I am really pleased. The performance is everything at our level and we looked very good."

On Sears, who had begun the season in good form with several goals, Carr said: "It was his first game back after two and a half months. He came close to scoring and is definitely on his way back. He played the whole 90 minutes. We were keeping an eye on him but he wanted to stay on and he did well for his first game. He is going to be a key player for us this year."

Meanwhile, the draw has been made for the FA Youth Cup fourth round. The Academy side will play Bolton Wanderers in the third round at the Boleyn Ground on Wednesday 19 December, kick-off at 7pm, and will have another home tie should they progress after being paired with either Port Vale or Swansea City.

West Ham United: Stech, Brookes, Miller, Payne, Spence (Blackwell 85), Harvey (O'Neill 75), Edgar ('Gala 86), Lee, Hunt, Sears, Stanislas