Highlights & Reaction: U18s fall to narrow defeat at home to Chelsea

West Ham United U18s 2-3 Chelsea U18s
U18 Premier League South Division, Little Heath Training Ground, Tuesday 13 February, 12noon GMT

West Ham United U18s fell to a hard-fought 3-2 defeat at the hands of Chelsea U18s in a pulsating London derby on Tuesday.

The young Hammers went toe-to-toe with their city rivals and almost snatched a point late on, with Ezra Mayers and Airidas Golambeckis unable to convert Dan Rigge’s whipped cross in stoppage time.

A draw would have been the least those in Claret and Blue deserved, having taken the lead after just two minutes and impressed throughout.

Josh Ajala found the net when he poked home against his former club, but Reiss-Alexander Russell-Denny would pull the visitors level just 90 seconds later, finding the top corner from 25 yards out.

Frankie Runham then put Chelsea ahead before the break, but West Ham found their way back into the fixture at Little Heath, with a superb second-half showing.

Substitute Rayan Oyebade produced a stunning volley to make it 2-2, finding the roof of the net after Mayers’ knockdown fell into his path on the hour, but the Hammers fell behind once again.

Fin Herrick’s England U17 teammate, Russell-Denny, would find the net once more, as his whipped free-kick flicked the post and nestled into the bottom corner on 70 minutes.

In response, West Ham threatened Chelsea’s narrow lead in a stunning passage of play across the last 20 minutes.

Lively throughout, Emeka Adiele and Tyron Akpata cut the Blues open repeatedly, with the former’s cross only not poked home by Ajala as he slipped when set to strike.

Substitute Jerry Umolu also went close to an equaliser, while Akpata forced a top save from Chelsea stopper Luke Campbell.

The Hammers, though, could not find a goal to nick a point, but they remain top of the U18 Premier League South Division despite a six-game winning run coming to an end.

West Ham United U18s: Herrick, Medine (Kamara 77), Golambeckis, Briggs (Oyebade 24), Mayers, Adiele, Akpata ©, Nwosu (Dike 77), Sowunmi (Umolu 64), Rigge, Ajala
Sub not used: Abraham (GK)

Goals: Ajala 2, Oyebade 64

Booked: Adiele


Adiele: There are positives to take from our performance 

Emeka Adiele was proud of his side’s performance in a top-of-the-table clash, despite the final result.

The Hammers were unlucky not to steal a point at the end, with the wing-back threatening throughout down the left.

His driving run almost forced a late equaliser, though Josh Ajala could not finish off.

Emeka Adiele

He explained: “I thought we all played well as a team and we did our best. We dominated the game in both halves and had our own chances.

“There were a lot of good individual performances and I thought I played well as well, and tried my best to create chances. I’m always trying to get forward as much as I can to help the team.

“We are looking forward to going again against West Brom on Saturday and hopefully getting back to winning ways.”


Up next

West Ham United U18s continue their U18 Premier League South Division campaign at home to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday 17 February. 

The match will kick-off at 12noon at Little Heath training ground.