In-form West Ham United U18s best Burnley U18s in Premier League Cup
Burnley U18s 0-3 West Ham United U18s
U18 Premier League Cup
West Ham United U18s made it four games unbeaten in all competitions with a commendable 3-0 win away at Burnley on Saturday morning, bringing their U18 Premier League Cup campaign to a close.
Played at the Lancashire FA County Ground due to the inclement conditions, the Hammers – who had already been eliminated from their group due to defeats against Arsenal and Everton – finished with a flourish with a convincing performance against the Clarets.
The result was not enough to take West Ham off the bottom of their group, with only the group winners guaranteed to qualify, but did eliminate their opponents and keep the young Hammers’ recent run of strong performances going.
Kevin Keen made three changes to the team who drew 2-2 at Arsenal the previous week in U18 Premier League South, Asher Falase recalled to the starting XI with wide player Isaac Evans receiving a first start of the season, and goalkeeper Mason Terry just his second.
With both teams sporting Rainbow Laces in support of the titular campaign, the Hammers got off to the brighter start, left-back Regan Clayton fizzing an effort from distance over the bar.
Inside quarter of an hour, West Ham led. Forward Gideon Kodua did well to retain possession out wide, feeding Divin Mubama who – carrying the ball across the pitch to make room for the shot on his trusty left foot – fired a low effort across the goalkeeper from 25 yards into the bottom corner for his sixth goal in his last eight Academy games.
The 17-year-old almost had another with an effort from the edge of the box which whistled narrowly over the bar, before goalkeeper Terry held Sean Etaluku’s drive from distance well to keep Burnley at bay.
Just shy of the half-an-hour mark, the Hammers doubled their lead. A brilliant team goal saw the visitors play the ball out from the back to feed midfielder George Earthy, who drew the attentions of the Burnley defence with a run towards the box before laying off for right-back Junior Robinson.
The No2’s pinpoint first-time cross found Kodua running into the centre of the box, and the No10 made no mistake with his finish, putting his side in a strong position for the three points.
Burnley went close prior to half-time, with Terry producing two excellent stops to deny Tremaine Eastmond and Etaluku – the latter having broken beyond the backline – and Mubama responded with an effort which curled narrowly wide for West Ham.
Into the second half and, with the Lancashire side well on top, the Hammers did superbly well to keep their opponents at bay, with Burnley’s Dane McCullough flashing an effort past Terry’s upright with ten minutes to go.
Then, as the game approached injury time, Kodua showed quality and persistence to run down the right-hand channel, fire a shot goalwards and – having seen it saved by the Burnley ‘keeper – follow up with his left foot to bury the ball in the unguarded net.
With three clean sheets in their last four games against some high-quality opposition, the young Hammers appear to be hitting their stride at an important point of the season.
“It was a really good team performance,” U18s assistant coach Gerard Prenderville told whufc.com.
“We travelled up Friday, stayed overnight and attacked it on Saturday, so our preparation was really good. On the day, I thought the whole team – from No1 to No11 – played particularly well. We scored three different goals, but three good goals.”
It has been a nice little run for us, but this team don’t rest on their laurels. We’ll go again this week, working hard on the training pitch
While focusing his praise on the collective performance, Prenderville was pleased to see brace goalscorer and first-year Scholar Kodua pick up another two goals and an assist, the 17-year-old now having been involved in eight goals in eleven U18s appearances.
The assistant coach was also pleased to see goalkeeper Terry, on his second start of the campaign, pick up a clean sheet.
“Gideon’s done really well this year,” Prenderville noted. “I’ve coached him through the age groups – U14s, U15s and U16s, and now as an U18 – and he’s worked really hard on his hold-up play and finishing skills and final end product.
“He’s such a good lad and he comes into the training ground every day with a smile on his face, always ready to work, so it’s not a surprise he’s started to add goals to his game.
“Mason came into the team and made some big saves in some tough conditions. Burnley were always a threat from set pieces and created some chances, but Mason made four or five big saves and claimed some corners.
“To keep a clean sheet is a real plus for the team. From No1 to No11, our boys were excellent.
“It has been a nice little run for us, but this team don’t rest on their laurels. We’ll go again this week, working hard on the training pitch and showing a real togetherness.
“The boys are really receptive and continue to play with the style that Kevin Keen and Mark Phillips are bringing to the team, so we’ll just go again and, touch wood, have another good week of training in preparation for the games coming up.”
West Ham United U18s: Terry; Robinson, Casey, Tarima, Clayton, Evans (Jones 69), Falase, Earthy, Orford, Kodua, Mubama
Goals: Mubama 13, Kodua 28, 90+1