- West Ham United U15s have qualified for the semi-finals of the Slavia International Cup
- After dropping points in their first two fixtures of the day, they won the last dramatically to make it through
- Head of U15-18 Coaching Danny Searle praised his side's character
Danny Searle says his U15s showed great character to qualify for the semi-finals at the Slavia International Cup.
The Hammers dropped points in the first two fixtures of the day, losing to hosts Slavia Prague and then drawing 0-0 to the Chinese national team.
However, Kai Corbett scored a dramatic winner in their final group match against MSK Zilina to ensure their progress through to tomorrow’s semi-final.
“We made it difficult for ourselves and we had our destiny in own hands,” he said.
“It was below-par performance against Slavia Prague but we still had chances to win the game. Our performance was much better against China and we dominated from start to finish but we were nowhere near clinical enough.
“That left us needing to win the final game and the boys showed great character to not only take the lead but to keep a clean sheet and progress.”
The Hammers started sluggishly in their opening day two fixture and went behind early on. After failing to clear their lines, a Slavia Prague player nipped in a slotted past Josh Roach.
Toby King should have levelled on the stroke of half-time and the Hammers were thankful to Roach midway through the second half after he saved a penalty.
Will Greenidge and Sam Caiger missed two great opportunites late on but Searle’s men dusted themselves down and went again a few hours later against the Chinese national team.
The Hammers were frustrated in their fixture against the Chinese national team, creating a number of openings but struggling to find a way past the goalkeeper.
Caiger was thwarted early on and Amadou Diallo shot over in the second half but all-in-all it was a disappointing result and it left Searle’s players needing a victory in their final match to make it through to the semi-finals.
Their final match – against group leaders MSK Zilina – brought extra pressure, as it was the Hammers who had to force the issue with their Slovakian opponents only needing a point.
The game had few chances but Kai Corbett took the one that counted brilliantly, midway through the second half, rifling beyond the keeper to spark jubilant celebrations.
It was a nail-biting final few minutes but the Hammers saw off their previously unbeaten opponents to set up a semi-final clash against Group B winners Sparta Prague tomorrow (10am BST).
“We’ve earned the right to play in the stadium but we want it to be the final. We must make sure we do our job and focus on the semi-final. Most importantly we need to improve in the final third,” added Searle.