Gideon Kodua has hailed the team spirit and comradery in the West Ham United U18s camp after the side claimed their ninth straight league win.
The U18s came from 2-0 down to beat Chelsea 4-2 at the Cobham Training Centre on Tuesday. Despite the Blues taking an early two goal lead, the Hammers responded superbly in the second half, scoring three times in the space of five minutes to leave the hosts shell shocked, before adding a fourth late on.
Callum Marshall pulled one back on the hour mark and Kodua levelled the scoreline just one minute later. Kaelan Casey headed the Hammers in front before Kodua secured his brace and the three points in additional time.
The Irons are now twelve points clear at the top of the U18s Premier League South table after remarkably winning their opening nine matches of the season, and Kodua was delighted with the side’s positive response after a disappointing start to the match.
“I’m chuffed for the whole team,” Kodua told whufc.com. “Obviously I didn’t start the match so it was difficult to see us go 2-0 down. I actually thought we were okay but we conceded two sloppy goals. After that we upped the tempo and created several chances before half time but we were unable to score.
“At half time we discussed the importance of the next goal and we knew that if we could score that next goal then we’d be right back in the game. The manager told the boys to keep fighting, to keep pushing, and that a goal would come.
“It was tough at 2-0 down. It was a mental challenge that we needed to overcome after winning lots of matches. Teams have an extra incentive to beat us when we are top of the league and it’s our responsibility to prove a point in every match that we play.”
The West Ham striker was introduced to the match on 58 minutes and, within seven minutes of his arrival, the Hammers took control of proceedings. Kodua scored twice as Kevin Keen’s U18 side completed a remarkable turnaround.
“We started the second half with a good intensity, just like we showed at the end of the first half,” Kodua reflected. “I came on and I was determined to bring a lot of energy to the match. Callum’s goal made a big difference. That goal gave us the belief that the game was there for us to win.
“Within a couple of minutes I scored the equaliser. George Earthy bombed down the left wing and he crossed the ball into me. I was in the right place to get a goal and just a couple of minutes after that Kaelan scored. There were some great scenes on the pitch with the boys after our third goal!
“I managed to score my second goal of the match in the last minute. Divin Mubama’s knock on played me through on goal and I got to the ball in front of the defender to ensure that I was one on one with the goalkeeper. I steadied myself and chose a spot, and fortunately I chose the right spot to score my second goal.”
The U18s have enjoyed a brilliant start to the 2022/23 season, but the young Hammers have had to show tremendous character on several occasions, coming from behind to win five of their nine league matches so far this term.
Kodua was keen to hail the mentality of the team.
He said “We have a fantastic team spirit and we demonstrated that once again. We all trust each other and we all believe in each other. No matter what happens in a match, no one panics or gives up, even if we are two or three goals behind.
“There is a real calmness and belief in this squad and that is something that I love about this group. Our intensity is fantastic and teams cannot deal with that over the course of 90 minutes and we showed that again against Chelsea.
“We know that we will always create chances and we know that we have the quality to take those chances. We have a system, an identity, and we trust in the way that we play. There is a real togetherness in this group in how we act and how we play. It is a great group to be a part of, both on and off the pitch.”