Chelsea Under-18s 2-2 West Ham United Under-18s
West Ham United twice came from behind to secure a well deserved point on Friday but will have left west London knowing they could have had all three.
The visitors enjoyed the better of an entertaining first half as several excellent moves created resulted in good chances but somehow, via a combination of good fortune and the woodwork, the scores remained level going into the break. Chelsea were better in the second period and took the lead just after the hour mark. The visitors continued to press and got themselves back into the game when Daniel Kearns equalised with six minutes to go only for Chelsea to take the lead again immediately. United hit back again though as Kearns claimed his second from the penalty spot with just three minutes remaining.
The Hammers had Adam Street, Nick Barrett and Balint Bajner back from injury. Bajner was paired with Ahmed Abdulla up front, who went into the match with two goals in his last two games. The pair demonstrated their growing understanding as early as the fifth minute when Abdulla set up the Hungarian youth international, but his shot with the outside of the boot flashed wide.
Matthew Fry then became the first player to strike the frame of the Chelsea goal. A free-kick from just inside the Chelsea half fell to Bajner and his square pass was perfectly weighted for the centre half, who took one touch before driving the ball across the goalkeeper only to see it come back off the inside of the post.
Street had barely touched the ball for the first 25 minutes but showed he was still switched on when he saved smartly from Frank Nouble, who was clean through on goal.
The move of the match then led to Bajner being the next player in claret and blue to strike the woodwork. Right-back Filip Modelski beat two players and fed Abdulla. His first time lay-off sent Kearns racing down the right and the winger's perfect cross was met with a thundering header from Bajner, who was desperately unlucky to see it clip the post and go wide.
Then with nine minutes to go before half-time, Kearns thought he had given West Ham United the lead, only to see his goalbound shot miraculously cleared off the line.
After the interval, the hosts found their rhythm more and Street had to be alert to palm a shot over the bar. But he was beaten soon after as the Blues took the lead in the 62nd minute. A long ball into the area was not dealt with and Joshua McEachran was on hand to rifle the ball into the top corner.
Tony Carr changed it round soon after by bringing on debutant Daniel Subuola and Christian Montano for Bajner and Anthony Edgar. With 14 minutes left on the clock he made his final switch by withdrawing Nick Barrett for Conor Okus. The three could surely not have been expecting the drama that was about to unfold.
With six minutes to go substitute Subuola played Kearns through on goal and the No7 drew his team level with a composed finish underneath the keeper. If the visitors thought they had done enough for a point they were quickly corrected as Chelsea went in front again just two minutes later as a long range shot flew past Street at the near post.
The Hammers players' heads did not drop, though, and, roared on by captain Fry, got forward straight away and won a penalty when Subuola was dragged down in the area. Kearns duly stepped up to send the keeper the wrong way to make it three goals in four minutes. Both teams had chances to sneak a win - Street had to pull off an outstanding save - but in the end the enthralling contest ended all-square.
West Ham United: Street, Modelski, Brown, McNaughton, Fry, Barrett (Okus), Kearns, Lee, Bajner (Montano 70), Abdulla, Edgar (Subuola 70)
Subs not used: Driver, Grasser.