West Ham U18s 1-1 Saints U18s: Report

By SFC Media time Wed 28 Aug FDSC

Saints' Under-18s ended a run of back-to-back defeats with a draw at West Ham United on Wednesday afternoon.

Neither side managed to stamp their mark on a disjointed game in north-east London. 

The Hammers applied the early pressure but Saints stood strong and went ahead on the half hour mark when recent addition Marcus Barnes found the bottom corner with a firm header. 

The home side pushed hard for an equaliser at the beginning of the second half, and were rewarded with a penalty in the 65th minute of play, which was calmly dispatched by Kieran Bywater to ensure both teams took a share of the points in the Barclays Under-18s Premier League clash.

Jason Dodd had threatened changes following defeat to Spurs at the weekend, but he kept faith in the defensive part of the side with Will Britt in goal, behind a familiar back four of Tom Leggett, Josh Debayo, Kyle Clinton and Will Wood. 

Winger Harley Willard made his first start for the U18s in midfield alongside Charlie Higgins and Niall Mason. Barnes was joined up top by Armani Little and Jake Hesketh, who were on either flank. 

The hosts had the better of the opening exchanges, but it was Saints who had the first shot on goal. Will Wood's long range effort was, however, easy for Vit Nemrava between the posts.  

The Hammers should have gone ahead when Josh Debayo sold goalkeeper Will Britt short with a backpass that let in Jordan Brown, but Debayo redeemed himself with a goal line clearance. 

Saints midfielder Niall Mason came close to opening the scoring after he rattled the woodwork with a misplaced cross. 

The visitors struggled to hold on to possession thanks to some slack passing and poor decision making in the middle of the park. 

So it was slightly against the run of play when Saints skipper Tom Leggett cut inside and played a long ball over the top for BARNES who held off his man to fire a low shot across goal and into the bottom corner to open the scoring.

It was Barnes' first goal for Saints at any level after joining from Wolves' academy in the summer. 

West Ham searched for a swift response with Jordan Brown forcing and good save from Will Britt. But at the other end, Saints showed they were worthy of their advantage when Jake Hesketh tried a delicate chip over the keeper that was narrowly wide of the post.

HALF-TIME: WEST HAM U18S 0-1 SAINTS U18S

The second 45 started the same way as the first with the home side on top and with Brown continuing to be a thorn in the side of Saints' defence. He lashed a 40 yard effort well wide before rising high at the near post for a free header that brought the best out of Will Britt. 

The visiting defence, which had held firm so admirably, was finally breached in the 65th minute when Nathan Mavila raced Saints defender Kyle Clinton shoulder-to-shoulder in the box. The ball bounced up and the linesman adjudged it to have struck the hand of Clinton as a spot-kick was awarded.

Kieron BYWATER stepped up and side-footed the ball neatly into the bottom corner, sending Britt the wrong way.

West Ham were then expecting to push on and snatch a winner, but it was Saints who looked most likely to do so as they ended the contest on top. Tom Leggett and substitute Chris Regis both let chances go begging before Marcus Barnes was denied a second by a fine save from the outrushing Hammers ‘keeper. 

FULL-TIME WEST HAM U18S 1-1 SAINTS U18S

"It was a great game, you know what you're going to get when you come to West Ham," said Dodd. "They had a big number nine that caused us a few problems, but our players had to deal with it. (Defenders) Kyle Clinton and Josh Debayo have been excellent so far this season."

"It's disappointing conceding in the manner that we did from a soft penalty. We haven't seen it but Kyle is adamant he hasn't handballed it.

"We're disappointed because West Ham didn't create chances,” the U18s coach added. “We gave them opportunities by giving the ball away in poor areas. We were well in the game, there were some really pleasing things, they gave it everything and I'm happy with that.

"The pleasing thing is that it is our first point, so we go to Newcastle on Saturday and we can build on that.”

West Ham U18s: Vit Nemrava, Kyle Knoyle, Lewis Page, Amds Nasha, Reece Burke (Djair Darfiti-Williams 46), Jamie Harney, Jerry Amod, Josh Cullen, Jordan Brown (Marcio Martins 53), Kieran Bywater, Nathan Mavila. Unused Substitutes: Robert Girdstone, Sam Howes, Moses Makasi.

Saints U18s: Will Britt, Tom Leggett, Will Wood, Charlie Higgins, Kyle Clinton, Josh Debayo, Harley Willard (Mark Irvine 73), Niall Mason, Marcus Barnes (Dan Demkiv 84), Armani Little (Chris Regis 73), Jake Hesketh. Unused Substitutes: Harry Isted, Isaac Nehemie.    

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