U18s too cunning for Foxes

Tunji Akinola and Noha Sylvestre scored as West Ham United U18s scored a fine 2-0 victory at their Leicester City counterparts
West Ham United’s youngsters returned to winning ways with an impressive 2-0 Barclays U18 Premier League Southern Division victory at Leicester City on Saturday afternoon.

After a disappointing 2-1 defeat at Spurs last weekend halted a seven-game unbeaten streak, the Hammers got themselves ahead when Tunji Akinola popped up in the penalty area to score his second goal in two games.

Shortly thereafter, Grady Diangana wasted an opportunity to make it 2-0 as he was denied from the penalty spot, but captain Noha Sylvestre spared his blushes by timing a run into the box perfectly to finish and double the visitors’ lead minutes later.

West Ham made a number of changes to the side that fell to defeat at Spurs Lodge seven days previously. England youth international Jahmal Hector-Ingram came into the Hammers attack to replace Oscar Borg, whilst 14-year-old defender Ajibola Alese made his first U18 start in place of the unavailable Declan Rice. Tim Brown also replaced absent England U19 international Sam Howes in goal.

The Academy started extremely well and immediately went on the front foot at the Foxes’ Belvoir Drive home. Hector-Ingram, alongside Diagana and Idris Kanu, caused the home defenders a number of problems with their strength and pace in attack.

After 20 minutes, West Ham led. From Matt Carter’s corner, Akinola rose highest in the penalty box and headed home confidently past Leicester goalkeeper Max Bramley.

Around five minutes later, the Hammers had a golden opportunity to double their lead when a low cross from right-back Jake Eggleton found Hector-Ingram in the box. The striker, who featured in a midweek first-team friendly win over Crystal Palace at the Boleyn Ground, was dragged to the floor by a home defender. Unfortunately though, Diangana’s shot from the spot was saved well by Bramley.

The second goal for the visitors did arrive just a few minutes later, though, as Sylvestre picked the ball up in the middle of the pitch and found Hector-Ingram on the wing. The lively striker headed for the byline before cutting back for the Swiss skipper to finish from 16 yards out.

Into the second half and Leicester began playing a more direct style of football as they looked for a route back into the game. However, Hammers goalkeeper Brown was on form and made a number of fine saves.

West Ham had chances of their own in the second half as they looked to extend their lead, but neither Joe Powell nor Hector-Ingram could beat Bramley at the end of swift counter-attacking moves.

The Hammers will look to continue a new unbeaten streak when they host Norwich City at Little Heath on Saturday 21 November 2015 in the Barclays U18 Premier League. Kick-off is scheduled for 11am, with parking and admission both free!

West Ham’s players will be looking to impress again as they begin the countdown to the FA Youth Cup third-round tie at Derby County, which will be played in late November or early December.

U18s: Brown, Eggleton, Akinola, Alese, Neufville, Carter, Sylvestre (c), Diangana, Powell, Hector-Ingram, Kanu
Subs not used: Matrevics (GK), Coventry, Wells, Lewis, Longelo.