U18s complete successful Dutch trip with hard-fought win

The U18s have enjoyed a productive week of training in the Netherlands


West Ham United U18s dug deep to end their mini-tour of the Netherlands with a 3-2 pre-season victory over CVV Sparta.

Two goals from Anouar El Mhassani – a penalty and a superb direct free-kick – and one from Charlie O’Connell were enough to secure the win for the Hammers youngsters at BSC Unisson Boekelo in the suburbs of the city of Enschede. West Ham’s cause was not helped by a late sending-off, but the Londoners held on to score a morale-boosting success.

Coached by Mark Philllips and Jack Collison, West Ham have spent the past few days training in Boekelo, building up their fitness and team spirit ahead of the 2018/19 U18 Premier League South campaign.

“We played against a Dutch side called Sparta in Enschede and I thought we played really well, if I’m being honest,” said Phillips. “We controlled the game.

“They went one-nil up against the run of play, then we went two-one up and they equalised before we scored the winner in the last minute with ten men.

“They were mostly Under-19s, so it was a worthwhile exercise as we fielded a number of schoolboys alongside our Under-18 scholars, so we were the younger group.

All in all, it was excellent, and the game was just the icing on the cake

Mark Phillips

“Anouar, who we signed from Ajax last summer, got the first with a penalty and then the second with a very good free-kick from the edge of the box, then we got the winner through Charlie late on. Of the other boys, Jamal Baptiste is an U15 who did really well, as did our U16 goalkeeper Serine Sanneh.

“It’s been a good trip. We had a good training week, the boys have bonded really well, we’ve made good use of the swimming pool as a recovery aid and of the bikes to cycle to and from venues. All in all, it was excellent, and the game was just the icing on the cake.”

Collison, who coached alongside Phillips in the Netherlands, with Steve Potts away with the U23s in Slovakia, was equally happy with the players’ approach to the trip.

“It’s been a great couple of days,” he confirmed. “It’s always good to take the boys out of their comfort zone and offer them different tests.

“We been able to make use of the pool, the bikes and of course the great pitches. The team have really bonded which is what you want and it has been great to give the young players opportunities.”

The U18s return to action on Saturday, when Cardiff City are the visitors to Little Heath.