Archie Woods in action for West Ham United U23s in February 2022

U18s continue stunning form with 6-0 Reading win

West Ham United U18s continued their push to return to the top of the table with another stunning display, defeating Reading 6-0 away from home. 

Kevin Keen’s young Irons came into the game on a sensational run of form and showed no sign of slowing down at the Bearwood Park Training Facility, putting on another flourishing attacking display while keeping a fourth consecutive clean-sheet. 

“It was a very, very good performance,” U18s assistant coach Mark Phillips reflected. “We had a good shape and we took our chances. 

“Myself, Kevin and Gerard are very pleased with what we saw from the team in this game.”

In truth, the fixture was over as a contest at the half-time interval, with the rampant Hammers establishing a three-goal advantage inside just 33 minutes. 

Gideon Kodua was brought down in the penalty area on nine minutes, allowing U18s captain Archie Woods to step up and coolly dispatch his first league finish of the campaign from 12 yards.

Gideon Kodua in action for West Ham United U18s
Gideon Kodua scored twice in the win over Reading

Just two minutes later the lead was doubled as Callum Marshall continued his fine form since joining the Academy Of Football in January, cutting inside onto his left foot and drilling an effort into the bottom corner.

West Ham’s grip on the game tightened on 33 minutes through George Earthy’s effort. The midfielder struck from outside the area, with a deflection off a Reading defender taking the shot over goalkeeper Boyd Beacroft and into the net.

The youngsters continued their goalscoring exploits in the second half, taking just nine minutes to find a fourth finish with the move of the game. A patient team move, complete with intellectual passing, resulted in Kodua collecting the ball before laying off for Lewis Orford. 

The midfielder sweetly connected with a left-footed effort, beating the ‘keeper for his third of the season. 

Having played a vital role in two goals already, forward Kodua took his opportunity to get involved in the finishes as the game drew to its close. The 17-year-old netted twice, on 62 minutes and 80 minutes, with a pair of fine attempts to take his personal tally to five goals in the last two games, and eleven in all competitions this season.

Victory means the Hammers have scored 17 goals without reply in the last four league matches and Phillips believes the confidence in the defensive base of the team allows the freedom to attack.

That’s four clean-sheets in a row for us now. We’re scoring goals at the other end too but those clean-sheets are very impressive.
Mark Phillips

He said: “It’s been a good run of goalscoring form but I actually think that comes from the solid base at the back. The three centre-halves and the goalkeeper, against Reading, did a very good job and keeping that clean-sheet is important, and then that gives you the platform to go forward and play. 

“That’s four clean-sheets in a row for us now. We’re scoring goals at the other end too but those clean-sheets are very impressive. You don’t get many clean-sheets in under-18s football so to keep four on the bounce is a real testament to the whole team.

“We defend from the front, from the attackers all the way back to the goalkeeper, and I think that shows. We work on that every day in training and they’ve done a superb job with it.”

The U18s’ recent form has taken the side up to 50 league goals scored this campaign, the second most in the division, and the team have only conceded 17; the joint fewest in the league.

“They are some strong numbers and when you put those numbers together, that’s what takes a team to the top end of the league,” Phillips considered.  “They’re very impressive numbers and the lads have done a lot of good work to get them to where they are. 

“There was a time earlier in the season where the team was creating loads of chances, but we just weren’t able to put them away, but now we’re also scoring goals and that’s got us to where we are now.”

Mark Phillips, Kevin Keen & Gerard of West Ham United u18s
Mark Phillips was delighted with the team's performance

The young Hammers are now preparing for a busy period that could define their season. 

Consecutive home matches against Crystal Palace and Brighton & Hove Albion on Friday and Tuesday, respectively, will be followed by a top-of-the-table clash away to Southampton.

Phillips says the team are ready for the challenge.

“We’ve now got a massive couple of weeks coming up. We play Crystal Palace on Friday, then Brighton & Hove Albion on Tuesday and then we’re away to Southampton. Those three games, in the space of eight days, are enormous for us. 

“The team has put themselves in a very good position. There’s a great togetherness in the side and we’re playing well. We have a really good group of players here, with a great spirit, and they’re looking forward to the games to come.”

Reading U18s: Norcott; Paul, Beacroft, Kanu, Daniel-Spray; Purcell, Hutchings (Borgnis 46), Giscombe, Vickers (Nditi 62), Okine-Peters; Ehibhationham (Furlong 50)
Subs not used: Murray, Addo-Antoine

West Ham United U18s: Knightbridge; Robinson, Falase, Scarles, Casey, Clayton; Woods (Evans 76), Earthy (Coddington 58), Orford: Marshall (Battrum 68), Kodua
Subs not used: Terry, Mubama
Goals: Woods 9 (p), Marshall 11, Earthy 33, Orford 54, Kodua 62, 80