Brighton & Hove Albion U18s 2-3 West Ham United U18s
U18 Premier League South
West Ham United Under-18s recorded their second consecutive 3-2 win on the bounce against Brighton & Hove Albion Under-18s on Saturday morning, with midfielder Sonny Perkins scoring an impressive first two goals of the season.
Having been defeated in the first three games of the U18 Premier League South season, Kevin Keen’s youth team followed up an excellent win against Arsenal three weeks ago with another thrilling display on the south coast.
With a side which featured a number of U16 players, including starters Regan Clayton and Divin Mubama and second-half substitutes Kaelan Casey, Asher Falase and Lewis Orford, the Hammers made a bright start at Brighton’s Amex Elite Performance Centre.
Despite blustery autumnal conditions, the Hammers took the lead after 20 minutes through Perkins, the England U17 international who signed scholarship terms with the Club over the summer.
The left-footed midfielder collected a pass from Gael Kileba just outside the area, stepped inside his marker and unleashed a fierce shot which faded away from the goalkeeper to give West Ham United the lead.
Clear shooting opportunities proved relatively scarce but when Brighton had one four minutes before half-time, Todd Miller took full advantage with a good individual effort to equalise.
Nevertheless, the Irons regained their lead once more through Perkins just before the break after Brighton failed to clear a whipped free-kick.
Defender Iyiola Adebayo collected the loose ball on the left flank, held off a challenge and passed inside to Perkins, who repositioned himself well to bend a right-footed effort inside the far corner to yield a 2-1 advantage.
Brighton had the better of the play at the start of the second half without creating much, and it was a profligacy which West Ham took full advantage of ten minutes from time.
Having seen his side win a direct free-kick on the edge of the ‘D’, forward Kai Corbett stepped up and fooled everybody by firing it low towards the goalkeeper’s side – the pace on the strike ensuring it beat Fynn Talley all ends up.
Brighton did eventually manage to pull one back, Matt Everitt capitalising on a defensive error as the game ticked into injury time, but the Hammers had already done enough by then to seal three impressive points on the coast.
“It was an excellent performance, really good,” assistant coach Mark Phillips told whufc.com.
“I wouldn’t say we controlled the game, but as a team performance and a defensive performance, we were excellent throughout the 90 minutes. We had a good shape about us and competed for every ball.
“I think it was more impressive today because we were so stretched personnel-wise. We were young – playing with U16s and U15s in an U18s league – so it was good to see such a strong all-round team performance. Everyone in the team played well.
“There’s nothing to say, when we get a few of our players back, the younger players couldn’t be in and around it! They did very well today and that bodes well for the future.”
West Ham United Under-18s will return to action when they host Crystal Palace at Little Heath on Saturday 7 November in a behind-closed-doors game.
West Ham United: Hegyi; Robinson (Orford 90), Thomas, Adebayo, Clayton, Potts, Perkins, Woods, Corbett, Mubama (Falase 80), Kileba (Casey 59)
Goals: Perkins 20, 44, Corbett 79