West Ham United U18s 4-1 Sheffield United U18s
Elliott Lee made a terrific start to the new FA Premier Academy League with a hat-trick to see off a plucky Sheffield United on Saturday.
The striker scored three fine goals, with Kieran Sadlier adding the other, on a rain-soaked Little Heath. The home side were always on top, with Academy Director Tony Carr, ably supported by U18s coach Nick Haycock, believing the team could have added to their tally against the Blades.
Lee, who scored seven goals in pre-season, showed his intent inside the first 30 seconds, going close with a header that the visiting keeper only just saved with an outstretched leg. Sadlier then went close as well after bursting through, only to again be foiled by the Blades No1.
The deadlock was finally broken as the half-hour mark approached. A delightful ball in behind from Jack Powell picked out Lee, who showed great skill to control the ball in mid-air and then lift it over the keeper. The second quickly followed with Lee side-footing in from Matthias Fanimo's low cross.
The Yorkshire club, who had set off from Sheffield at 7.30am for the 12.30pm kick-off, improved after the interval as the rain came down on the Academy training ground. Jake Larkins was forced into a couple of smart stops but the Hammers rearguard, captained by Danny Potts alongside Leo Chambers at centre-back , stood firm.
Blair Turgott then took full advantage of a breakaway before crossing low and hard across the penalty area for Sadlier to sweep in the third goal. That killed off any hopes of a Blades comeback and Lee wrapped things up when he cut in from the left and bent the ball into the top corner.
There was still time for a consolation goal for the visitors, when Jake Young committed a foul but the goal could not dampen the mood after a superb opening-day success. It will be the Hammers turn to travel next weekend when they make the long trip up to face Sunderland in another inter-group fixture.
West Ham United: Larkins, Young, Shaw, Chambers, Potts, Sadlier, Hurley (Miles), Turgott, Powell (Hunt), E Lee (Labonne), Fanimo
Subs not used: Wootton, K Lee
* Check out the matchday programme against Aldershot this Wednesday for the exclusive post-match views of Tony Carr.