Collison: U18s full of confidence after Reading victory

Jamal Baptiste


Jack Collison was full of praise for West Ham United’s youth-team players after Saturday’s 2-0 U18 Premier League South win at Reading.

The Irons followed up their 3-2 U18 Premier League Cup win over Manchester City before the international break with another impressive all-round performance.

Schoolboy striker Amadou Diallo made it three goals in two matches by opening the scoring on 18 minutes, before turning provider for captain Kristijan Belic to net his first for the club five minutes after half-time.

At the other end, goalkeeper Daniel Jinadu and defenders Jamal Baptiste (pictured, above), Josh Okotcha (pictured, below), Jeremy Ngakia and Jayden Fevrier were rewarded for fine displays, both individually and collectively, as the Hammers kept their first clean sheet in nine matches in all competitions.

You can see the momentum growing and the confidence in the boys at the moment

Jack Collison

“We were really pleased to continue the momentum after a good performance and result against Manchester City in the Premier League Cup, and great to get back to business in the league,” said Collison, referring to the fact Saturday’s success ended a run of five consecutive U18 Premier League defeats.

“It was a really good game. Reading started very well, so it took us a while to settle into the game, but we then had a period during which we took the lead through Amadou Diallo.

“He’s in a real rich vein of form at the moment, is still a schoolboy and is playing up, and took his goal really well.

“We had three schoolboys in the team – Amadou, Jayden Fevrier and Jamal Baptiste – and all of them have done very well when they have played up this season.

“We haven’t had too many clean sheets this season so it was good for the defenders and for Daniel Jinadu in goal, who made two really fine saves and looked full of confidence, which was great for him and for the back four in front of him.”


Josh Okotcha


Collison was delighted for Serbian midfielder Belic, who led by example, excelled in a central midfield role and popped up with a powerful header to secure all three points for his side.

“We played some really good stuff in parts and I really enjoyed it. The most pleasing thing for me was probably seeing the skipper for the day, Kristijan Belic, score his first goal for the club with a powerful header.

“We saw him do the same thing for us last week against Manchester City defensively, coming and winning the ball with a really key header, and this time he was doing the same thing at the other end and scoring, which meant a lot to him.”

West Ham will now prepare for their biggest week of the season so far, an FA Youth Cup third-round meeting with Brighton at Chigwell Construction Stadium on Monday evening.

The Irons have not won an FA Youth Cup tie since defeating Aldershot Town in the 2012/13 season, but Collison is hopeful of ending the club’s horror run in the competition this time around.

“You can see the momentum growing and the confidence in the boys at the moment,” Collison confirmed. “Everyone is pushing themselves on the training pitch, day-in day-out, because they know the FA Youth Cup is just around the corner and they all want to play in it.

“Competition for places is incredible. We had a really impressive bench at Reading and we left a couple of lads at home who have played a lot this season as well, so the competition is there.

“It’s another positive result but the most pleasing thing was probably the manner of the performance and the confidence the boys showed.

“Leading into Youth Cup week, it gives the boys confidence they are in a good place leading into that big game on Monday night against Brighton.”