U18s pegged back by Arsenal

Jahmal Hector-Ingram scored a brace but the Academy were pegged back by Arsenal on Saturday

England U17 striker Jahmal Hector-Ingram stuck twice as the Under-18s secured a 2-2 draw at home with Arsenal on Saturday morning.

A week after Norwich City condemned the Hammers to a 4-3 defeat at Little Heath, the Academy got off to a brilliant start when Hector-Ingram fired in a brace to give the hosts a healthy lead.

Just minutes later though, Gunners striker Eddie Nketiah finished past Tim Brown to get the visitors back into the game, before the same player struck early in the second half to drag the Gunners level.

The Hammers made three changes to the team that suffered heartbreak to Norwich a week earlier. U16 defender Abdoulahi Diallo made his first ever appearance at U18 level as he replaced Jake Eggleton at right back, whilst winger Oscar Borg returned from injury to take the place of Joe Powell in midfield and Ajibola Alese stepped into the Hammers defence in place of the injured Ben Wells.

Arsenal started the game well and could have led after just ten minutes but after Yassin Fortune stole the ball from Matty Carter around 20 yards out, he wasted an opportunity to run clear on goal.

In typical fashion, the opposition punished them for that mistake as the Hammers’ opening goal came when a misplaced pass in the Arsenal defence was latched onto quickly and finished confidently by Hector-Ingram.

West Ham immediately pushed again for a second but Dan Kemp, who recently joined the Hammers from London rivals Chelsea, could only manage a tame shot straight at Ryan Huddart.

The second goal did come just a minute later though as Kemp managed to find Hector-Ingram in the middle with a looping cross, with the free-scoring striker allowed plenty of time to head home from five yards with a diving header.

Just two minutes later though, Arsenal masterminded a way back into the fixture when Nketiah took on Alese in the box and fired low across Brown into the far corner.

The hosts raised the pressure once more as both Borg and Hector-Ingram were causing Arsenal all sorts of problems. Firstly, Borg watched his lobbed effort get cleared off the line, before Hector-Ingram curled a shot just round the far post.

After the break, the visitors grabbed their equaliser when winger Joe Willock was allowed too much time and space to run to the edge of the box and fire a shot at Brown, who parried the ball straight to the feet of the hungry Nketiah who scored his second goal of the game.

The Academy were still strong in the second half though and could have put themselves in front again when Diangana fired wide, Kemp was denied a penalty and Hector-Ingram headed over from Vashon Neufville’s cross.

In the final minutes of the game, West Ham had one last chance to steal a victory when Diangana headed towards goal from Longelo’s cross, but Gunners keeper Huddart managed to make an incredible reaction save to secure a share of the points for the visitors.

Under-18s Brown, Diallo, Akinola, Alese, Neufville, Carter, Lewis, Diangana, Borg (Longelo), Kemp, Hector-Ingram