Inexperienced U18s beaten

A youthful West Ham United finished their pre-Christmas programme of FA Premier Academy League fixtures with a thrilling 5-3 home defeat by Portsmouth.

Academy Director Tony Carr made eleven changes to the side that secured an extra-time 1-0 FA Youth Cup third-round victory at Plymouth Argyle in midweek, handing starts to England Under-16 internationals Blair Turgott and Mathias Fanimo.

Fellow schoolboys Dominic Vose and Danny Potts - the son of former Hammers defender Steve Potts - were also in Carr's starting lineup, while Kenzer Lee, Jack Powell and Lamar Hurley all appeared as second-half substitutes.

Portsmouth took an early lead at Little Heath, only for Fanimo to level matters with a left-footed drive from 25 yards.

Pompey then took control against the inexperienced Hammers, racing into a 4-1 lead after half-time, only for the home side to launch a spirited late comeback.

First, Vose finished well following good work from Miles Smith, Turgott and Danny Subuola, then Jack Lampe nudged the ball home at the far post.

West Ham piled forward in search of and equaliser, only for a defensive mix-up between Callum Driver and goalkeeper Deniz Mehmet to allow Portsmouth to snatch a fifth goal late on.

Despite the result, Carr was satisfied with his players' performance and attitude.

"I didn't play any of the eleven who played in the FA Youth Cup," he confirmed. "Instead, I played some of the Under-16s and squad players.

"Funny as it sounds, we could have got a draw out of the game. We were 4-1 down and pulled it back to 4-3. We could have scored an equaliser in the last ten minutes, only for a mistake to let them in to score again late on.

"To be honest, I was disappointed with the way we defended, but it was great experience for the young players, who acquitted themselves very well."

Carr also gave his reaction to the FA Youth Cup fourth-round draw, which paired West Ham at home to Queens Park Rangers in a tie that will be played at the Boleyn Ground in early January.

"Obviously we would have taken anybody at home in the draw, so I am pleased," he said.

"QPR had a great win at Southampton in the third round, and we will obviously treat them with the greatest of respect, but we are looking forward to facing them in January."

West Ham United Under-18: Mehmet, Smith, Lampe, Driver, Potts (K.Lee), Turgott, Vose, Purdy (Powell), Fanimo, Subuola, Werndly (Hurley)