West Ham United’s U18s fell to London derby defeat on Saturday as Chelsea were 5-0 winners at Little Heath.
The Hammers, who fielded four schoolboys from the start against the Blues, endured a tough first 45 minutes as they found themselves four down at the break.
Tino Anjorin opened the scoring with a free-kick, before Henry Lawrence added a second.
Marcel Lewis made it three on the 20-minute mark, and it was almost certainly game over as Thierno Ballo headed in Chelsea’s fourth.
Seven minutes into the second half, Ballo grabbed his second as he was on hand to slide it over the line to make it 5-0 but the Hammers stood up strong and closed the floodgates for the remainder of the half.
Academy Director Terry Westley always knew it was going to be a tough ask to face Chelsea, who fielded an entire team of U18s, while the Hammers team was extremely young.
He said: “I think whenever you play an U23 game on a Sunday and the U18s have a tough game on the Saturday, coupled with he injuries we have, it’s always going to stretch us. It was probably Chelsea’s strongest team on paper – certainly their oldest for a while.
“It was always going to be difficult before the game, but with that it becomes a challenge. Our players have to look at that and make them one-on-one challenges all over the park; can our keeper be better than theirs, can our midfielder lock onto and be better than theirs.
We had four schoolboys playing and they did not have one schoolboy in their team. I was really pleased with the players in the second half.
“We said that to the players at half-time; it’s a personal chance and how are you going to come out of it? When you’re talking about scholarships and giving professional contracts away, you’re not there in my office with all the other players. You’re there on your own and you have to make your own impact.
“I was really pleased with the players second half. Josh Wilson-Esbrand is an U16 left-back, Jayden Fevrier played out of position in midfield, he’s an U16, Jamal Baptiste played centre-back – a tough position in a hard game – an U15 and Amadou Diallo was further forward. We had four schoolboys playing and they did not have one schoolboy in their team.
“Diallo was good enough to play for their team, and for a schoolboy, was one of the best on the pitch. He comes out with shining colours.”
Many of the U18s’ regulars were instead involved for the U23s against Swansea City in their 5-3 win on Sunday; Sean Adarkwa scored for the hosts, as did Veron Parkes (who also featured on Saturday) while Ajibola Alese and Emmanuel Longelo also played their part.
With a number of players also missing through injury, the U18s were stretched.
“If you look at the U18s; Jeremy Ngakia, Reece Hannam, Ajibola Alese, Jay Mingi, Kristijan Belic, Louie Watson, Manny Longelo, Bernardo Rosa, Sean Adarkwa; none of them featured and I’ve nearly reeled off a team of U18s who didn’t play because of injury or because they were involved in the U23s,” continued Westley. “I think we will see a different team when the FA Youth Cup rolls around when it is about a result.
“We were very young, they were very strong, but there’s a lot to learn from it which is a real positive for me.”
West Ham United: Anang, Greenidge, Okotcha, Baptiste, Wilson-Esbrand (Spyrides 55), Stroud, Appiah-Forson, Fevrier, Chesters (Mingi 55), Diallo, Pakes (Corbett 65)
Unused subs: Nsumbu, Sanneh