Sonny Perkins hat-trick gets West Ham United U18s off to a winning start


West Ham United U18s

West Ham United U18s 3-1 Reading U18s
U18 Premier League South

Sonny Perkins scored a ‘perfect hat-trick’ as West Ham United U18s defeated Reading U18s 3-1 on the opening day of the U18 Premier League South season.

The first West Ham United side to play a competitive fixture this season got the Irons off to a winning start as Perkins – playing up front in the absence of the injured Divin Mubama - netted with his head, his left foot and then his right foot, either side of Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan’s close-range equaliser.

Having had much the better of the play before the break, West Ham were forced back to a greater extent in the second half by Reading, but sealed the three points with 20 minutes remaining when Perkins won the ball near the halfway line and carried it into the area, finishing well across the keeper with his left foot for his hat-trick.

The result sees a continuation of the youth team’s fine run of form from the end of last season, in which they went five league games unbeaten, and provides a promising platform on which to build in 2021/22.

The Hammers started brightly in the East London sunshine at Little Heath, England U16s international Ollie Scarles – previously a defender, but wearing the No10 shirt in midfield – delivering a superb in-swinging cross onto the head of George Earthy after five minutes. 

On this occasion, the forward failed to generate enough power with his header to trouble Matt Rowley in the Reading goal – but it was a sign of things to come.

Five minutes later, Perkins rose highest to attack an excellent free-kick delivery from Lewis Orford – another U16s player stepping up and impressing – but this time he made too much contact with it, heading over.

The third time would prove the charm. 

With 15 minutes on the clock, West Ham worked a switch of play through midfield efficiently once more, Archie Woods finding Orford on the right-hand flank who put in a first-time cross. His delivery was once again superb, right onto the head of Perkins eight yards out – and his header was firmly planted in the far corner.

Perkins heads West Ham in front

The Hammers had a spring in their step, right wing-back Junior Robinson the next to try his luck as he cut onto his left foot and fired over the bar from 25 yards.

Moments later, Robinson received the ball deep and whipped in an inviting delivery for George Earthy – playing alongside Perkins up front in the absence of the injured Divin Mubama – to attack, Reading ‘stopper Rowley palming away.

West Ham looked like they might rue those missed opportunities when, midway through the first half, Reading won the ball high and – following a fierce cut-back – Ehibhatiomhan side-footed an equaliser into the net against the run of play.

But the young Hammers kept pouring forwards, Regan Clayton showing excellent commitment to challenge for the ball high and win his team a free-kick that, from Orford’s cross, fellow new scholar Kaelan Casey headed over.

And with eight minutes to go until half-time, it was another good attack from the wings which brought about Perkins’ second goal. A delightful clipped pass over the top from Robinson found the West Ham No11 running down the right channel, and rather than go for power, he instead slid a clever finish inside the near post with his right foot.

It was a deserved half-time lead for the Hammers and one which they looked to extend early in the second half, Perkins taking one too many touches after being slid through by Earthy, allowing a defender to clear.

Perkins scores his hat-trick goal

But Reading, to their credit, fought their way back into the game, forcing West Ham goalkeeper Jacob Knightbridge into his first real save when a deflected cross needed dealing with at his far post.

The Royals continued to press and had a couple of threatening set-piece deliveries of their own, but the game was decided as a contest when Perkins picked the left-back’s pocket on the halfway line and, continuing his run into the box, opted against pulling the ball back for a team-mate, instead finding the bottom corner with a well-placed left-footed finish across the ‘keeper.

West Ham enjoyed further chances to add to their lead – substitute Gideon Kodua taking a loose touch from Earthy’s pull-back, and Robinson firing wide of the far post after a loose ball dropped to him inside the area – but a winning start for the boys in Claret and Blue had already been secured by that stage.

West Ham United: Knightbridge, Robinson, Tarima, Casey, Forbes (c), Clayton, Woods, Scarles (Trialist 72), Orford (Kodua 66), Earthy (Falase 79), Perkins
Subs: Shala, Evans

Goals: Perkins 15, 37, 71

Booked: Forbes, Clayton