West Ham United U18s played out a 3-3 thriller against Reading U18s at the Berkshire side’s training ground on Saturday.
Following a tricky start to their 2019/20 U18 Premier League South campaign, in which West Ham have faced fellow Category One academy sides in Chelsea and Arsenal, the Hammers' scholars went into the fixture in sixth place and looking to kickstart their season.
They got off to a poor start against Reading, however, falling behind within six minutes to a strike from Portuguese left winger Pedro Neves.
The home team pressed for a second, but lead coach Kevin Keen’s young side demonstrated their powers of recovery when, after 23 minutes, last week’s goalscorer Daniel Chesters picked out Gael Kileba, the winger notching the equaliser.
The scores remained level until the interval – but it was West Ham who evidently used the break to better effect, bursting out the traps with some momentum.
Within five minutes of the restart, Kai Corbett – who recently made his debut at U23 level in a friendly against Brentford ‘B’ – put the away side in front, Kileba turning provider this time around, before Jake Giddings doubled the advantage just six minutes later.
But the end-to-end match had a final twist in store, West Ham’s brace sparking Reading themselves into a rally. After Josh Hewitt converted for the hosts from the penalty spot after 62 minutes, Claudio Osorio put the teams on a level pegging ten minutes later.
The sides continued to exchange chances, but ultimately had to settle for a point apiece in a result that moves West Ham above London rivals Arsenal into fifth position, but seeking a first win since the opening day of the season.