Narrow defeat for U18s

West Ham United Under-18s saw their six-match FA Premier Academy League run come to an end with a 1-0 defeat at Arsenal on Wednesday.

England U17 striker Benik Afobe scored the only goal of the game two minutes before the break at the Gunners' London Colney training ground.

Steve Bould's side, who have already wrapped up the Group A title, edged a close game that could have gone either way on a sunny afternoon.

Academy Director Tony Carr said: "It was a good game. In the first half, we had by far the better chances, and Robert Hall missed a great opportunity following good work down the flank from Dominic Vose and Matthias Fanimo.

"They then scored when Sergio Sanchez allowed a long punt down the field to bounce and their striker nodded it over Deniz Mehmet as he tried to retrieve the situation. It was disappointing, because they didn't really have to earn their goal.

"We then dominated much of the second half and Paco Craig could have scored, but he couldn't get enough purchase on his header. We should have got at least a draw, to be honest, and might even have won the game.

"Considering some of the players had played for the reserves in a friendly on Tuesday, they were a credit to themselves. I thought we equipped ourselves very well."

Danny Subuola, a scorer at MK Dons on Saturday, had the first chance of the match, but could only fire straight at goalkeeper James Dunn. Arsenal hit back and only the post denied defender Daniel Boateng the opening goal a few moments later.

West Ham looked like ending the first half on a high when both Subuola and Hall - goalscorer Afobe's international strike partner - shot narrowly off-target.

The young forward made Carr's side pay on 43 minutes, slotting Conor Henderson's pass past Mehmet.

Arsenal missed a pair of chances to double their lead before Craig (pictured) intervened to prevent Afobe from scoring again midway through the second half.

Craig was thwarted by Dunn as West Ham finished strongly, with the goalkeeper showing great agility to keep out the centre-back's downward header from a Vose cross.

Defender Cedric Evina was next to keep the Hammers at bay, hacking Hall's free-kick off the line, before Fanimo fired a shot into the side-netting to complete an decent yet frustrating afternoon's work.

The U18s contest their third game in the space of eight days when they travel to Watford on Saturday morning.

West Ham United U18: Mehmet, Driver, Sanchez, Craig, Brown, Fanimo, Wearen (Hurley 60), Moncur, Vose (Werndly 79), Subuola (Tombides 79), Hall
Subs not used: Cowler, Young