U18s' perfect start comes to an end at Aston Villa

Manny Longelo


West Ham United U18s’ 100 per cent record came to an end on Saturday as Aston Villa broke Hammers’ hearts with two minutes remaining in the Midlands.

Winger Colin Odutayo was the hero for the hosts, finishing off a late counter attack to put an end to Mark Phillips and Jack Collison’s team’s perfect start.

West Ham, without Bernardo Rosa who played 90 minutes for the U23s in Friday’s night’s 2-1 defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion, had the first chance early on at Bodymoor Heath when after just seven minutes both centre-backs Josh Okotcha and Ajibola Alese could have scored during the same move. 

A Sebastian Nebyla free-kick was swung in and Okotcha’s shot was saved before Alese blazed over from the resulting rebound.

The Hammers remained on top throughout the first half and tested the Villa keeper Viljami Sinisalo for the first time seven minutes before the break.

A stinging shot by joint top-scorer Veron Parkes saw the Finnish stopper dive high to his right, pushing the effort away to keep the scoreline goalless.

In the second period, West Ham continued to control the match as Louie Watson came on to bolster the middle of the park, but their dominance in possession – which ended 60-40 in the Hammers’ favour – could not be converted into goals.

And with two minutes left on the clock, that frustration was multiplied as Villa struck the first and very late blow.

Regaining the ball in their own half, the hosts drove forwards quickly down the left before firing a shot at West Ham keeper Daniel Jinadu. The rebound was then lashed against the bar, before it was third time lucky as Odutayo poked the ball in at the far post.

A first defeat for the U18s in what has been a terrific start to the season, and the challenge continues next week the east Londoners host the Southern Division’s only unbeaten side – London rivals Tottenham Hotspur. 

West Ham United: Jinadu, Greenidge, Okotcha, Alese, Wilson-Esbrand, Nebyla (Appiah-Forson 69), Stroud, Longelo, Parkes, Spyridis (Watson 57)

Subs not used: Sanneh, Dalipi, Peake