U18s stay in title hunt

West Ham United U18s kept the pressure on at the top of the Barclays U18 Premier League South with a 3-0 demolition of Arsenal on Saturday morning.

Early goals in the opening eight minutes from captain Kieran Bywater and Jerry Amoo set the Hammers on their way to victory, before Emmanuel Onariase's (pictured) rare strike near the end settled the tie.

West Ham's win meant they kept pace with leaders Fulham, who scored a 3-0 win at Chelsea on Friday. The pair both sit on 49 points from 22 matches played. Both teams have eight games remaining.

U18 boss Steve Potts made just two changes to the side that beat league leaders Fulham away two weeks ago, with right-back Alex Pike replacing Josh Pask in defence, along with Amoo stepping in to replace schoolboy Grady Diangana.

With the Hammers looking to take their recent win streak to six games, they got off to the perfect start at London Colney when Amoo used his speed to get away down the right, before cutting a ball back to the edge of the box for Bywater to snatch his 17th league goal of the season.

Then, just three minutes later, Amoo turned from provider to scorer when he charged through two or three opposition defenders before firing low past Gunners goalkeeper Ryan Huddart.

After that, the game seemed to slow down in terms of attacking opportunities, with both teams battling in the centre of the pitch to gain control of the game.

Just after the hour-mark, Arsenal had a rare chance on goal when the ball fell kindly to Kaylen Hinds on the edge of the box, but the youngster rushed his volley.

As Arsenal looked to step up their performance, a mix-up in midfield saw Amoo given a free run towards goal and, after settling himself, his effort was palmed clear by the strong hands of Huddart.

If Arsenal felt that they had got away with conceding another goal, the travelling Hammers secured the three points with a third late in the second half. Bywater's deep cross was met at the far post by Reece Burke, who expertly brought the ball back across the face of the goal for Onariase to finish.

It almost got even worse for the Gunners in the closing minutes when West Ham substitute Bailey was released through the back line by Bywater, but unfortunately he blazed his shot well wide of the target.

The Hammers' next league fixture is a trip to Leicester City on Saturday 15 March, with an 11.30am kick off.

U18s: Howes, Pike (Pask), Harney, Onariase, Burke, Nasha, Makasi, Amoo, Brown (Martins), Bywater, Parfitt-Williams (Bailey)
Sub not used: Nemrava