Phillips praises Kanu's impact

Young striker Idris Kanu scored twice off the bench in 3-2 win over Liverpool U18
U18 coach Mark Phillips was impressed with the quality on show as the Hammers defeated Liverpool 3-2 at Little Heath.

Liverpool forward Toni Gomes put the visitors ahead, before Matt Carter’s bending corner was de-flected in to level the scores.

The visitors retook the lead when Herbie Kane smashed in from over 20 yards before 15-year-old Idris Kanu came off the bench to score two goals in the final seven minutes. 

Speaking after the game, Phillips described how impressed he was with his sides’ performance. 

“It was a really good quality match against a team full of young players like ourselves. All things considered, both teams put in a really good performance,” said Phillips. “Liverpool started much better than us. They looked sharper all over the pitch but after that first 15 minutes, we started to look like the stronger team. 

“Going into the second half, they deserved to lead because we gave away a sloppy goal but we got ourselves back into the game quickly. 

“Once Liverpool got their second goal, we really needed to work harder and show our character to get ourselves back into the game.

“I’m delighted with the outcome because Liverpool Football Club will always have a wealth of talent. They had one lad playing called Ovie Ejaria that I coached as an U9 at Arsenal so I knew that they were going to be a tough team.

“That said, we showed great character and determination from our lads because they never gave up despite going behind twice and we are all happy to have taken the three points.”

When looking back at the goals that his side scored on Saturday, Phillips was delighted with Carter’s role in the Hammers’ first goal, but reserved a special mention for Kanu after the match.

“I don’t want to steal Matty Carter’s thunder but I looked at the video after the game and it worked out that his corner looped over to the back post, hit the back of a defender on the line and went in. Fair play to him though as it was a fantastic corner putting it in a really dangerous position.

“With Idris’ goals, you have to remember that he’s an U15, playing up several levels. He scored a goal earlier in the day to defeat Liverpool on the other pitch and because we were low on numbers with the U21’s playing on Friday night, we thought we’d give him another chance to impress from the bench.

“The first goal that Idris scored came against the run of play. He came on and played without fear like he usually does and once he had the first, his confidence was there to grab a second.”

Speaking after scoring his first brace for the U18s, the goal-scoring hero Kanu said he was delight-ed with grabbing the important goals in both the U15’s and U18’s games against Liverpool. 

“After playing a full 90 minutes for the U15’s and getting a goal, I enjoyed being picked to come on for the U18’s to make the difference,” said Kanu.

“I’m quite young compared to some of the other lads in the U18’s so whenever I get selected, all I want to do is to try and make an impact. I think I definitely achieved that and it’s always nice to end a match with a couple of goals to your name.

“My aim now is to continue to play football at U18 level and to keep adapting and learning to make myself a better player. That will put me in a position next season to be a regular at a higher age group and look towards playing in the U21 football soon too.”

The Hammers next Barclays U18 Premier League Tier Two Play-Off match is a long trip north when they face Sunderland away on Saturday 2 May, which Phillips admitted is area of the country that the Academy rarely take any points from.

Phillips continued: “We’ve never gone to the North East and come away with a result, whether that’s against Newcastle, Sunderland or Middlesbrough.”

“We have a week off now to prepare ourselves for the long trip and hopefully we can head into the game with that stat in mind as it sets us a target of coming away with at least a draw.”