Swans strike late to deny U18s

West Ham United extended their unbeaten run to six matches as they picked up a 2-2 Barclays U18 Premier League South draw at Swansea City on Saturday.

Swansea’s Brandon Griffiths put the hosts ahead within the opening five minutes of the game, before the Hammers’ schoolboy midfielder Alfie Lewis popped up at the back post to head home and level the scores before the break.

Just after half-time, the Hammers turned the game on its head when Irish centre-half Declan Rice got a flick on a cross to head home his third goal of the season.

However, just when it looked like West Ham would make it six wins in a row, Sean Hanbury turned and fired home from inside the box to rescue a point for the Swans.

The Hammers had made three changes to the side that picked up a fifth successive victory at home to Brighton & Hove Albion a week earlier. Goalkeeper Tim Brown replaced Sam Howes between the sticks, while Idris Kanu came in for England youth international Jahmal Hector-Ingram up front and Lewis got a welcome U18 start in place of recent Development Squad goalscorer Marcus Browne.

After that Brighton victory, coach Mark Phillips urged his players not to become complacent, but Swansea came out quickly at Landore and managed to punish their visitors.

With just four minutes on the clock, a cross into the Irons penalty area by Causso Darame found midfielder Jack Watts. His shot at goal was saved by Brown, but Griffiths was well placed to fire his side ahead.

The Hammers came back at their Welsh hosts well, though, and Swans goalkeeper Lewis Thomas was tested by stinging shots from both Kanu and Lewis.

It was Lewis who dragged the visitors back into the game five minutes before the break, heading home at the back post from a deep cross to secure his first ever West Ham goal at U18 level.

After the break, it was the Hammers who started the second half well and put themselves ahead. From a free-kick, defender Rice managed to get enough of a touch on the cross to beat half-time substitute goalkeeper Alex Lang.

That gave the visitors added belief to push on and try and win a sixth game in a row, but both Lang and Joe Rodon put their bodies on the line to deny West Ham a third.

In the last minute of the game, Swansea substitute Hanbury grabbed a share of the points for his side when he got on the end of a cross from Tom Dyson, turned and fired powerfully into the roof of the net.

Saturday’s result meant West Ham stay fourth in the table at the halfway point in the regular season.

The Academy of Football start the second half of the season on Saturday 31 October when they look for Halloween revenge against London rivals Fulham, who beat the Hammers 3-1 in west London in the opening game of the season.

U18s: Brown, Eggleton, Borg, Carter, Akinola, Rice, Powell, Sylvestre, Kanu, Lewis, Diangana
Subs: Bogard (GK), Hamilton, Longelo, Barrett