Scully secures point for U18s

Irish midfielder Anthony Scully's equaliser grabbed a 1-1 Barclays U18 Premier League Group One Play-Off draw with Reading

West Ham United grabbed a third Barclays U18 Premier League Group One Play-Off draw in four games after Anthony Scully rescued point at home to Reading on Saturday.

The Royals went ahead in the first half through striker Sam Smith, but Republic of Ireland U17 international Scully earned a 1-1 draw for the Hammers by scoring at the back post after outstanding play by winger Joe Powell.

The hosts made four changes to their starting XI from their 3-0 defeat away to high-flying Manchester City. Sam Howes was replaced by Bermuda-born debutant Trott in goal, while Vashon Neufville, Danny Kemp and Connor Coventry stepped in for Declan Rice, Jahmal Hector-Ingram and Reece Hannam.

In a fairly uneventful opening quarter of an hour, the closest either side got to an opening goal was when Idris Kanu met a Neufville cross, but his floated header was caught by Royals keeper Luke Southwood.

However, the opening goal arrived 20 minutes, when Trott losing control of the ball in a crowd of players after catching a high cross. The ball eventually found striker Smith, who tapped home into the vacant net.

Within five minutes of going ahead, Smith could have added two more to his tally, but the first effort went narrowly over the crossbar and the second was well saved by Trott.

West Ham did come back at Reading before the break, however, and had a chance of their own when Powell’s corner was headed out to captain Noha Sylvestre, but the young Swiss star failed to keep his volley down.

Shortly before half-time, Scully spotted the run of Kanu in behind the Reading defence, but Royals goalkeeper Southwood rushed off his line quickly to clear the danger.

After the break, both sides worked hard to try and gain early control of the second half. The first real action came on 50 minutes when Smith appealed for a penalty after going down in the box under pressure from Matt Carter, but the referee waved away their claims.

The Hammers’ equaliser came on the hour mark, when Powell’s skills and pace beat two defenders to the touchline, before he crossed low for Scully to fire into the empty net.

West Ham’s goal gave them confidence and in similar fashion to Reading after they went ahead, the Hammers went chasing an immediate second – although Scully’s volley traveled high and wide of the target.

With around 15 minutes left, the hosts made their first change after Scully picked up a niggling injury, with Rosaire Longelo coming on the replace the goalscorer.

Steve Potts’ youngsters pushed for a winner right at the end, but it was not to be as a Powell free-kick evaded everyone in the box and bounced narrowly wide.

West Ham now have three more Group One fixtures remaining, starting with Liverpool at home next weekend, followed by trips to Blackburn Rovers and Everton.

U18s: Trott, Carter, Akinola, Eggleton, Neufville, Sylvestre (c), Coventry, Scully (Longelo), Kemp, Kanu, Powell
Subs not used: T.Brown (GK),
Johnson, Hannam