West Ham United fell to their first Barclays U18 Premier League defeat in eight games on Saturday, losing 2-1 to Tottenham Hotspur at Spurs’ Training Centre in Enfield.
After an impressive run of form which has seen the Hammers win six of their last seven league fixtures prior to Saturday’s London derby, the visitors looked to be on their way to yet another win when Tunji Akinola headed home past Spurs keeper Alfie Whiteman.
The hosts got themselves back in the game shortly after through Jon Dinzeyi’s headed finish, before Jaden Brown stole all three points midway through the second half.
Former Arsenal Academy midfielder George Dobson came off the bench, but was sent off in the closing stages of the game.
The Hammers made just two changes to the side that extended their unbeaten run to seven games just a week ago at Little Heath against Fulham. Full back Jake Eggleton returned from an injury to regain his spot in the West Ham defence, meaning U16 defender Mason Barrett dropped to the bench, whilst Sam Howes replaced Tim Brown between the sticks.
In the early moments, the visitors were playing some very entertaining football, similar to the brand of football that has seen them pick up 19 points since their undefeated stream started. The Hammers were getting the ball down on the floor well and playing some free-flowing attacking football, with Grady Diangana again playing as the link man in the middle.
It was that style of football which saw them force the openings inside the the Spurs penalty box which eventually resulted in Akinola’s goal. First, winger Joe Powell watched his shot palmed off the near post by Whiteman, before Idris Kanu’s scooped effort was denied by the opposite upright.
The breakthrough did come on 21 minutes though when Akinola latched onto a stray ball inside the penalty area and looped his finish over Whiteman and into the back of the net.
Just a few minutes later though, Spurs reacted in the best way by levelling the scores. It was their defender, Dinzeyi, who rose highest from a Keanan Bennetts cross to head past Hammers goalkeeper Howes.
In the lead up to the break though, it was still West Ham who were having the better chances on goal, but neither Matty Carter nor Oscar Borg could keep their efforts on target.
As the game continued into the second half, it was again the defenders who looked like they were going to steal the show, with three of the Hammers back four all having opportunities to again put them ahead. Eggleton, Akinola and England U16 full back Vashon Neufville all failed to beat Whiteman.
In the traditional way that many football games go though, Spurs punished their guests in Enfield when Kazaiah Sterling broke through the Hammers back line to run clear on goal at Howes, only for the England U19 goalkeeper to deny him. Unfortunately for the visitors, Spurs left back Brown took the opportunity to seal the points.
West Ham will look to return to winning ways on Saturday 14 November when they face Leicester City U18 away at the Foxes Training Ground.
U18s: Howes, Eggleton, Akinola, Rice, Neufville, Carter, Sylvestre (c), Borg, Diangana, Powell, Kanu. Subs: Dobson, Longelo, Alese, Barrett, Metravic