West Ham United U18s 3-2 Arsenal U18s
U18 Premier League South
Little Heath Sports Ground
Saturday 3 October
West Ham United U18s secured their first win of the new campaign with a 3-2 victory over Arsenal U18s at Little Heath Sports Ground on Saturday morning.
Early goals from Jayden Fevrier and Archie Woods were cancelled out by the visitors, but Kai Corbett’s second-half effort secured the three points for Kevin Keen’s side.
The win was much deserved after a string of difficult results in recent weeks, and sees the Hammers climb to tenth in U18 Premier League South, which remains in its early stages.
West Ham United U18s were in front after just 12 minutes at a drenched Little Heath, the returning Fevrier applying the finishing touches after a defence-splitting pass from Kamarai Swyer.
Midway through the first half Arsenal were reduced to ten men when Levi Laing’s late challenge left the referee with little option other than to send the defender off.
Minutes later West Ham made the extra man count, extending their lead through Archie Woods. The visitors failed to clear a West Ham corner and the ball fell to Woods on the edge of the box, the midfielder’s low-driven effort doubling the Hammers' advantage.
The visitors responded nearly immediately however; central defender Alex Kirk reacting quickest to a lofted free-kick and volleying home to reduce the arrears before the break.
It was Arsenal who started the second half the brighter team, and the young Gunners found an equaliser on 61 minutes, with Kido Taylor Hart finishing well past Krisztian Hegyi after a neat passing move.
Not to be deterred, West Ham United U18s seized back the momentum and began to carve out chances of their own, and the pressure told with just over twenty minutes remaining.
A flowing counter-attack began with Gael Kileba being released down the left hand side. The winger traveled strongly at the retreating Arsenal defence before squaring to Kai Corbett to apply the finish.
The Hammers defended admirably in the closing stages and were able to see out a hard-fought win to get their season up and running.
Speaking after his side’s victory. lead coach Keen was pleased with the exertions of the young Hammers.
“It was a fantastic effort from the lads,” he said. “It was a really hard-fought win against a really talented Arsenal team. The boys did really well and scored three brilliant goals, especially the third one - some really good team goals.
“What impressed me the most was a desire and a tenacity to really go out there and win the game. We’ve had a couple of tough results, some tough losses, but we had a really strong mentality. We believed that only one team was leaving with the points and the boys made sure that it was them.”
Keen was thrilled with how his side rallied after Arsenal’s equaliser.
“It’s a show a real character to win that game from 2-2,” he continued. "After a run of three defeats, that comes into it as well. We’re a young team with young minds and we’ve trained so well and so hard and thoroughly deserved to go out there and get a victory."
The Academy side now have three weeks until they visit Brighton in their next fixture, and Keen has challenged the U18s to make further improvements on the training pitch.
“We’ve got some time now with the international break, and I think with that coming up, it was hugely important to get the win today. If we can keep working hard and get a few little things sorted out hopefully we can push on and get ourselves up the league.
"We want to work on our team play, team shape and also our finishing. We’ve created a lot of chances over the last four games and despite scoring in every game, I still feel like we’ve missed opportunities.”
Keen also took time to praise the West Ham United groundstaff, who worked tirelessly to get the game on despite the adverse weather conditions in east London.
“I’ve got to give full credit to Dougie (Head Groundsman) and his team of groundstaff. The pitch played incredibly well and looked immaculate. It was a great achievement to get the game on and for the pitch to not be a factor for either team.”
West Ham United U18s: Hegyi, Thomas, Forbes, Adebayo, Evans (Robinson 55), Corbett, Woods, Potts, Fevrier (Kileba 68), Simon-Swyer, Mubama (Velicky 90+1)
Subs not used: Coddington, Roach
Goals: Fevrier 12, Woods 27, Corbett 69