You might think that, for a full-back, goals should be a rarity.
But the remarkable thing about Harrison Ashby’s last-minute winner on Sunday afternoon was that it wasn’t even his first late winning goal as a professional player!
The Scotland youth international’s strike, deep into injury time at Rush Green Stadium, sealed the young Hammers’ 2-1 win over their London rivals.
Will Greenidge’s first Academy goal for West Ham had been cancelled out by a crisp finish from Chelsea’s Bryan Fiabema before half-time.
But with the second half finishing with 16 minutes of stoppage time, Ashby – in the eighth of those minutes – strode forward, exchanged passes with Emmanuel Longelo and slotted in the match-winner.
Ashby's celebrations evoked memories of his 94th-minute winning goal for West Ham's U18s against Leicester City in March 2020 – and he also appreciated that both his side's scorers against Chelsea were, theoretically, defenders!
“A modern-day centre-back and a modern-day full-back – they score goals, you know what I mean?” Ashby laughed.
“It’s always nice to get a goal – especially when it’s a last-minute winner against your old team! All the boys are buzzing with that, and so am I.
“It’s the kind of stuff we do in training all the time. You can see it before the start of the game when we’re all out there warming up, doing little passages of play in and around the box – and today that paid off for us.”
Ashby and his teammates started Sunday's game superbly, seemingly determined to put the disappointment of their last outing – defeat at Brighton & Hove Albion nine days prior – behind them.
Greenidge’s goal capped a dominant first half for the team in Claret and Blue, but after seeing Chelsea equalise against the run of play and captain Ajibola Alese stretchered off at the start of the second half through injury - leading to the stoppage time - the West Ham development squad were forced to dig deep to secure three points.
With all the quality that we’ve got, and all the character that we’ve got, in that changing room, I think we can do big things as a team
That such resolve came against an U23s side like Chelsea’s, who have won Premier League 2 and finished runners-up respectively in the last two seasons, was all the more commendable.
“It shows how much personality all of the boys have got,” Ashby confirmed.
“All of us want to push for that first team, and you can see it in how we applied ourselves on the pitch, especially against a good team like Chelsea. It’s always nice to get a 2-1 win over them.
“Our overall performance shows that we’re up there with the best Academies in the league and in the country. With all the quality that we’ve got, and all the character that we’ve got, in that changing room, I think we can do big things as a team.”
The result boosts the Hammers up to third in the Premier League 2 Division 1 table, two wins from three games placing them a point behind leaders Manchester City and Brighton.
Ashby confirmed: “It puts us in a good place, a hundred per cent, especially getting a win against a good team like Chelsea.
“We’re up there now so we just need to keep on pushing and going the way we are.”