Lewis Orford

U18s move to brink of title with West Brom win

West Bromwich Albion U18s 0-2 West Ham United U18s
U18 Premier League South, West Bromwich Albion Training Ground, Saturday 18 March 2023, 12pm GMT


West Ham United U18s moved to within a point of clinching the U18 Premier League South division title after a 2-0 victory at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday afternoon.

The young Hammers raced into a two-goal lead in the West Midlands, as Lewis Orford converted from the penalty spot before Favour Fawunmi doubled our lead with just 16 minutes on the clock.

Tyron Akpata was sent-off for the Irons shortly after half-time but Finlay Herrick saved a second-half penalty as Kevin Keen’s U18 side stood firm to secure another important victory.

The Hammers are now 15 points clear at the top of the U18 Premier League South table. One more point would see then guarantee the title but results elsewhere could clinch top spot as early as next weekend.

The U18s are back in action on Saturday 1 April, when we host Brighton and Hove Albion, but the division would be clinched if Fulham fail to beat West Brom at home on Tuesday 28 March.

Favour Fawunmi
Favour Fawunmi

U18s lead coach Keen was delighted with the three points.

“I thought we played really well, especially during the first half,” he said. “We played some fantastic football and we deservedly led by two goals at half-time. The second half was a lot tougher and we had to show a different side to our game.

“It’s not easy to play with ten men, but the boys were resilient, they worked hard, and we preserved our 2-0 lead. I’m really pleased for the lads. It was a good win.”

The Hammers were keen to make a fast start and Divine Mukasa won his side a penalty inside seven minutes. The 15-year-old midfielder was tripped after displaying clever footwork in the West Brom 18-yard box.

Orford stepped up and slotted the ball into the bottom-right corner, sending Ben Cisse the wrong way.

Ollie Scarles came close to doubling West Ham’s lead moments later and the wing-back was heavily involved once again with 16 minutes on the clock as the Irons took a two-goal lead.

Scarles’ delicious inswinging cross found Josh Briggs at the back post. The defender cleverly headed back across goal for Fawunmi, who tapped into the net from close range.

Herrick was unworked during the opening 40 minutes, but the No1 was on hand to make a sensational stop just before the interval. Layton Love looked certain to score, but the goalkeeper flew across his goal to keep out his header from point-blank range.

Finlay Herrick
Finlay Herrick

West Brom's Eseosa Sule came close to halving the deficit on two occasions at the start of the second half. The winger’s first effort was blasted over the crossbar before the No7 found himself through on goal again minutes later. On this occasion he registered a shot on target, but Herrick was able to make a smart save with his feet.

The Irons were reduced to ten men on 56 minutes as Akpata was dismissed for a late challenge. Despite the red card, the visitors continued to play on the front foot and Ryan Battrum came close to finding the bottom corner after an hour, but the wing back’s driven effort rolled just wide of the post.

The hosts had a golden opportunity to haul themselves back into the contest when they were awarded a penalty 20 minutes into the second half. Love stepped up and looked to place the ball into the bottom left corner, but Herrick was on hand once again to make a vital save to deny the Baggies’ No9.

Orford came close to adding a third for the Hammers with ten minutes remaining, but the midfielder saw his headed effort bounce off the crossbar and behind for a goal kick.

West Brom continued to push for a goal in the closing stages, but the West Ham defence stood firm to secure their sixth clean sheet of the season.

Reflecting further on the victory, Keen was delighted with his side’s opening salvo.

“It was a really good start,” Keen smiled. “There was a fire on the motorway and as a result we were delayed but the boys just got on with it. Our warm-up was short but it’s part of the boys’ make-up, it’s not a problem for them.

“These players have demonstrated an ability to deal with whatever is thrown at them and I actually think that some of our play in the first half was some of the best football we’ve played all season. Especially when you consider Blaise Uwandji and Favour Fawunmi up front have probably only played together once, the linkup play was really good, and their movement was fantastic too. I’m pleased for those two, they did well.”

While Keen thought that the red card was a harsh decision, he was proud of how his team responded to going down to ten men.

He continued: “I personally thought that it was a harsh decision, I actually think that Tyron won the ball. The referee made his decision though and we had to deal with it. From that moment onwards we dug in, we defended well and we created some chances too.

“Lewis Orford hit the bar near the end of the match and we had other chances too so we could have maybe won by more. I’m really pleased for the boys, it’s another win on the board and we’re determined to keep pushing now.”

Finally, Keen was full of praise for Herrick after the England U17 international made some outstanding saves during the 90 minutes.

“Fin was excellent today, he obviously saved the penalty and he made some other important saves too," he added. "That’s what happens when you go down to ten men, you come under a little bit more pressure and you need your defenders and goalkeeper to perform.

“It was a great performance and our goalkeeper probably nicks Man of the Match for us today.”


West Bromwich U18s: Cisse, Nelson, Williams, Mohammed, Sumnall ©, Deeming (Oliver 46), Sule (Kirton 55), Whitwell, Heard, Oluwatobi (Kone 79), Love
Subs not used: Brady, Hurlock

Booked: Whitwell, Mohammed


West Ham United U18s: Herrick, Battrum © (Fearon 88), Falase, Tarima, Briggs, Scarles, Orford, Akpata, Mukasa (Mayers 69), Uwandji (Marshall 69), Fawunmi (Jones 69)
Sub not used: Terry (GK)

Goals: Orford 8 (pen), Fawunmi 16

Booked: Battrum

Sent-off: Akpata


Referee: David Hinton