U18s come back to down Saints

West Ham United Under-18s came from behind to beat Southampton U18 3-2 at Little Heath on Saturday afternoon.


After a positive opening to the game, the Hammers found themselves 2-0 down as Kyle Clinton and Ollie Cook headed in from Armani Little crosses.


Goals from Jahmal Hector-Ingram and Jordan Brown drew the game level before the break, with substitute Kieran Bailey volleying in the winning goal with just five minutes remaining.


U18 boss Steve Potts has witnessed his Academy side begin their Barclays Under 18 Premier League campaign without losing a game, having won an opening day fixture away at West Bromwich Albion, before three consecutive draws against Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea.


Potts made two changes to the team that earned a 2-2 draw against fellow Londoners Chelsea just a week before. U16s pair Joe Linley and Jahmal Hector-Ingram were named in the starting eleven in place of Kyle Knoyle, who featured for Nick Haycock's Development Squad at Fulham on Friday evening, and Joe Powell.


With the visitors looking for their first league victory of the season and the Hammers aiming to extend their unbeaten run, the game exploded to life with both teams attempting to gain control of possession to start an attack.


The first real effort on goal came for the Hammers through Hector-Ingram down the right, however after speeding away from his marker, his shot from a wide angle ended up flying high over the crossbar.


Down the other end of the pitch and the majority of Southampton's opportunities involved their influential midfielder Little. Firstly, the 17 year old curled a free kick from the edge of the box into the side netting, before perfectly finding the head of Clinton in the Hammers penalty area to put the visitors ahead.


Just eight minutes later and another Little free kick was met with a leaping header in the penalty area. This time it was Cook who lost his marker to head the Saints 2-0 up despite the best efforts of Hammers left back Vashon Neufville on the goalline.


West Ham raised their performance and got a foothold back in the game just after the half-hour mark. Hector-Ingram picked the ball up on the right wing, before using a mixture of speed and skill to beat two defenders inside the box and sliding a shot inside the near post.


The goal gave the hosts confidence to push on for an equaliser before the break, which they claimed with the final kick of the first half. With the Southampton defence failing to clear the danger on the edge of their penalty area, striker Brown fired an unstoppable low shot into the bottom right hand corner of the net.


West Ham came out for the second half with positivity after correcting their own wrongdoing in the opening 20 minutes. Linely, Brown and Djair Parfitt-Williams all tried their luck with efforts at goal, which forced Saints keeper Harry Isted into several smart saves.


Potts made just one change during the match, which saw Bailey introduced after 75 minutes in place of Hector-Ingram. With just five minutes left on the clock, Southampton failed to fully clear the danger once more, which was a mistake Bailey punished them for. He met a half clearance with a volley from 22 yards that was deflected past Isted and into the back of the net.

The Hammers now sit third in the Barclays 18 Premier League South, one point behind league leaders Arsenal and second place Chelsea, with nine undefeated points from their opening five league fixtures.


West Ham U18s will again look to extend their unbeaten league record away at Reading on Saturday 27September at 11am.


West Ham United U18: Bogard, Linley, Onariase, Pask, Neufville, Browne, Sylvestri, Diangana Parfitt-Williams, Brown, Hector-Ingram (Bailey).
Subs not used: Sheriff, Boness, Elsom, Rice.