West Ham United U18s 3-1 Leicester City U18s
U18 Premier League South
Little Heath Sports Ground
Saturday 11 September
West Ham United U18s returned to winning ways with a commanding 3-1 victory over Leicester City U18s at Little Heath Sports Ground on Saturday afternoon.
First half goals from Gideon Kodua, Sonny Perkins and George Earthy put Kevin Keen’s side in complete control and they could have been even further ahead but were denied by the woodwork on three separate occasions during a frenetic opening period.
The visitors got themselves back into the contest through Chris Popov shortly after the restart, yet the Hammers stood firm to record their second win of the U18 Premier League South season.
The victory sees the youth team jump up to seventh in the league table after just four rounds of matches.
West Ham United U18s started on the front foot on a sunny afternoon at Little Heath and were deservedly ahead midway through the first half.
Kodua reacted quickest to a lapse of concentration in the Leicester City defence to prod home from close range for his second goal of the season.
Keen’s side extended their advantage less than ten minutes later after positive play from Perkins. The England U18 international collected the ball from a throw-in, cut inside and delivered a precise pass into George Earthy who finished with aplomb from just inside the box.
Having been the provider for Earthy, Perkins wasted no time in making it three just moments later. The attacking midfielder collected an incisive pass from Kodua, checked back onto his right foot and drove it high into the net, leaving the Foxes keeper with no chance.
When the two teams re-emerged from half-time it was the visitors who wrestled back the momentum and were duly rewarded with a goal of their own.
Young forward Popov went on a marauding run down the right channel, riding the challenges of several defenders in Claret and Blue before curling beyond the outstretched arms of Jacob Knightbridge.
To their credit, however, Keen’s side stuck to their task well and put in an assured defensive display to keep Leicester City from edging themselves back into the contest.
Despite the second half seemingly lacking the intensity of the first, the Hammers maturity shone through as they collected their second win of the season.
Following the victory, Assistant coach Mark Phillips was glad to see a positive week on the training pitch translate into three points.
“We’re really pleased with how the season has started as an U18s group,” He said. “We trained so well all week and I kept saying to the group ‘if we play like that, we won’t have any problems.’ We’ve trained at such a high level since we’ve come back, and we just want to find that consistency on the pitch to go alongside that.”
The manner of victory in east London was particularly pleasing for Phillips.
“We were 3-0 up quite quickly and then hit the woodwork three times so we were really pleased with the performance. The second half got a bit a bit scrappy but when you’re in the lead it’s sometimes hard to maintain that intensity throughout the rest of the game.”
Archie Woods and Junior Robinson returned to the U18s having made their U23s debut in the Premier League Cup against Wolves last week.
“The intensity and the sharpness just go up a notch when you’re with the U23s. Archie Woods has been ill this week and really battled through the game well, he’s got a really good mentality and wants to be out there giving his all for the team.
Junior Robinson had arguably his best performance of the season and that’s a great testament to go up to the U23s and then come back and a put in a performance like that.”
Next up for the young Hammers is an U18 Premier League Cup match against Arsenal on Saturday before returning to league action against Tottenham Hotspur a week later.
“We’ve got two big tests coming up in Arsenal and Tottenham, but that’s exactly what you want, and we’ll be looking forward to both of those games.” Phillips concluded.
West Ham United U18: Knightbridge, Robinson, Forbes, Casey, Clayton, Falase, Tarima (Scarles 61’), Woods (Orford 61’), Perkins, Kodua (Evans 76’), Earthy
Subs not used: Terry, Boothe
Goals: Kodua 23’, Earthy 32’, Perkins 38’