Chelsea U18 1-2 West Ham United U18
U18 Premier League South
Kevin Keen’s West Ham United U18 side produced an outstanding collective performance to defeat Chelsea U18s at Cobham training ground on Saturday morning.
The Academy team entered the game after disappointing back-to-back London derby defeats to Arsenal and Tottenham, but worked their way up to three points with impressive resilience and courage in windy conditions in the south London.
A rambling contest saw the two sides exchanging efforts from a distance early on, Oliver Scarles hitting Chelsea goalkeeper Teddy Curd directly before Blues forward Leo Castledine responded in kind with an effort that flew over the bar.
Whenever the ball was in the air, however, the Hammers seemed dominant, and from their third corner of the game in the 22nd minute, Asher Falase’s delivery to the near post was propelled by Kaelan Casey – the first goal of the central defender of the Academy as a scholar.
Seven minutes later, their lead was doubled. Divine Mubama was shoved in the back by Chelsea captain Alfie Gilchrist. Freshman Mubama stepped in to take the resulting penalty, sending Curd the wrong way to score his second goal in three games this season.
Chelsea began to dominate the ball but came up against a resolute West Ham side in determined form.
The Blues recovered a goal before half-time, however, when Castledine’s reduction was greeted on the rebound by Charlie Webster. The midfielder’s end of the volley deflected Falase and Jacob Knightbridge on the wrong foot, making it 2-1.
In the second, West Ham’s leading goalkeeper almost turned into a goalscorer as Falase drilled a right-footed effort just off the post, before the free-kick from the full-back hit Casey once again , the central back missing the mark with his head when well placed.
Chelsea continued to dominate territorially in the second period, but West Ham held on, with the Blues’ Ronnie Stutter hitting the post and the same blazing player just inside the penalty area.
The last chance of the game went to Chelsea, with a loose ball from a corner falling on center-back Luke Badley-Morgan in the area. As he threw volleys towards goal, West Ham stopper Knightbridge made an outstanding and game-winning save in the dying seconds.
It was the same time for West Ham to introduce young striker Blaise Uwandji – three days before his 16th birthday – from the bench for his youth team debut in the final stages.
“It was a great result – a real boost for the Under-18 team,” head coach Kevin Keen told whufc.com.
“It was a fantastic response to last week. We had a great week as a team. We’ve had quite a few meetings and discussions – they’re very mature young men.
“We probably haven’t had the results we deserve so far this season, but yesterday we made up for it a bit. The guys, as a team, were extremely organized, worked really well together and limited Chelsea on a few occasions.
“We played very good football, especially in the first half. It looked like we were going to lead 2-0, but their goal just before half-time put a little more emphasis on the game.
“We worked really hard and we still created some chances in the second half. Jacob [Knightbridge] made a fantastic stop at the very last minute to make sure we won the game, but I thought we deserved to win it for our pace and intensity.
“We were really brave with our press, pressing them really high which is quite unusual in Academy football so it was a good win and a good boost for the guys, especially with the international break. future.”
Keen saw fit to praise the collective performance of his players, whose strength and solidarity made it possible to achieve victory in trying conditions.
“I think for me it was a collective victory,” Keen noted. “You can’t go to Chelsea and win at any level, certainly not at the youth side, without everyone playing their part.
“Even the substitutes who arrived played their part well and played their part, whether it was Lewis Orford for 20 minutes or Blaise. [Uwandji] for ten minutes or even Isaac [Evans] In the last five minutes everyone on the team really did their job, focused really well and worked really hard.
“We deserved the result and I’m really happy for the boys because they have worked so hard this season.
West Ham United U18: Knightbridge, Falase, Tarima, Casey, Forbes (c), Clayton, Woods, Earthy, Scarles (Evans 90 + 2), Mubama (Orford 76), Kodua (Uwandji 86)
Goals: Casey 22, Mubama 29 (pen)
Reserve: Wood, Knightbridge, Falase