Superb Cullen strike deflates Chelsea

The West Ham United Development Squad put an end to Chelsea’s title dreams as Josh Cullen curled a delightful shot into the top corner in the 90th minute to give the Hammers a surprise, yet deserved 1-0 win. 

To a man, the young Hammers put in a terrific performance at Stamford Bridge, and their efforts came to fruition with just moments to spare as the nineteen-year-old captain swept Alex Pike’s cut back past Chelsea goalkeeper Bradley Collins. 

Describing his delight at netting a goal of such quality in dramatic circumstances, Cullen said: “It’s always nice to score the winner especially late on at Stamford Bridge.

“I’d like to give credit to all the lads tonight, I thought we were excellent for the whole 90 minutes. To come to a team like Chelsea, and I thought we outplayed them for the majority of the game. That’s huge credit for all the lads and the staff involved. It’s been a great night.

“The goal is probably the best I’ve scored, it’s certainly up there. It was a nice strike but as a West Ham, to score at Stamford Bridge it makes even more special. It’s a nice moment but we have to move on to Leicester and I need to try and add more goals to my game.” 

In a fantastic display by Steve Potts’ men from the first whistle to the last, the Hammers had several first-half chances. Djair Parfitt-Williams and Jordan Brown both went close before the skipper saw his penalty fall agonizingly wide of the post after Moses Makasi was fouled in the box. 

Following the miss, Cullen looked like a man possessed as he tried to atone and he managed to do just that when it looked like a draw was the most likely outcome.    

“Yeah the goal was even more important after I missed the penalty. Obviously I was disappointed to miss, and I wanted to make up for it. When the ball was cut back to me and I had to hit it properly and I was delighted to see it going in. Hopefully the penalty miss will sort of be forgotten now. 

“To do it at Stamford Bridge makes it that bit more special. I know it’s not a full away section but there were a few fans here tonight so it was great to be able to celebrate in front of them.”

The Hammers have come away with two wins in their last three games – both wins coming in Premier League stadiums. Cullen continued to say that he felt the setting helped his side to secure their first away win of the season.  

“I think playing here had an effect. When we heard the game was moved to Stamford Bridge it gave everyone a lift, you’re automatically more pumped. Everyone was thinking ‘I want to put in a performance here’. But that’s something we need to get better at, and we need to kick on wherever we play. Next season, we need to be right on it every time we play. 

“It’s nice to get an away win, better late than never. If we could’ve picked an away win at the start of the season, it would’ve been this one. 

“This season hasn’t been good enough, we all know that. Our first away win coming in May is a poor statistic.”

The Dev Squad face a quick turnaround as they travel to the King Power stadium on Monday to play Leicester City in their final league game of the campaign. 

Having beaten the Foxes earlier in the season, Cullen is hoping to complete the double and finish the season on a positive note. 

“Hopefully we can build on this and get another win away at Leicester on Monday. Everyone’s shattered now, but when you win it makes you feel a little less tired. 

“It’s nice to get the clean sheet, we haven’t had too many of them either. The centre-halves Josh and Manny were excellent, it’s a bit harsh on the other lads for me to just name those two because everyone was magnificent. That’s the only way we could’ve won tonight, we needed everyone to give 100%, and I think we did that.”