Joe Pritchard, Anton Walkes, Ismail Azzaoui and Anthony Georgiou all got on the scoresheet in the re-arranged Barclays Under-18 Premier League clash as we triumphed 4-3 against our London rivals on Wednesday lunchtime.
We were 4-1 up at one stage, but two goals from the visitors in the last few minutes made the final scoreline a lot closer.
It was our second win in four days at the Training Centre following Saturday’s 2-1 triumph against Southampton, with seven changes made to the starting line-up as Coach Kieran McKenna shuffled his pack.
The first half started slowly, centre-half Christian Maghoma being forced off injured after only six minutes with midfielder Zenon Stylianides replacing him in the back four.
Hammers forward Djair Parfitt-Williams and Georgiou were both off target from outside the area at opposite ends, the former then seeing a shot skim wide after his initial free-kick caused chaos in our six-yard box.
Pritchard ran onto Azzaoui’s right-sided cross at the other end but, leaning backwards, his shot was always rising and it comfortably cleared the crossbar.
Voss then made a vital block at his near post to keep out an effort from Jerry Amoo before Parfitt-Williams dragged wide of the far stick. We had a further let-off when Reece Burke headed over from point-blank range following Parfitt-Williams’ corner as the Hammers enjoyed the better of the chances before the break.
Five minutes prior to the interval, however, Vashon Neufville was forced to turn the ball away on the Hammers’ goal-line as Azzaoui’s in-swinger from the right looked set to sail straight into the net.
The deadlock was finally broken after the break as we made a lightning-quick start to the second period. Shayon Harrison held his own as he rode two challenges in the middle before rolling through to Pritchard, who finished well from inside the box just 19 seconds into the half.
Pritchard almost scored again a few minutes later as he played a clever give-and-go with Walkes, the midfielder striding into the box only to poke just wide. Georgiou then volleyed over from Walkes’ cross before the latter doubled our lead on 57 minutes. Having won possession out wide, he cut in from the left and, as space opened up for him, he ventured into the area and finished coolly from a tight angle.
The Hammers responded within two minutes, Oscar Borg curling a free-kick into the top corner from 22 yards out, but we continued to attack with flair and almost grabbed our third goal when Harrison crashed a shot just the wrong side of the near post following Georgiou’s ball in from the right.
Our two-goal cushion was restored in the 64th minute, however, as Georgiou sent Azzaoui scampering forward and he slotted low into the corner.
Substitute Ryan Loft shrugged off the attentions of two West Ham defenders and hit the far post with a low curler before Georgiou played Azzaoui in again – only for the Belgian to be denied by a double-save from goalkeeper Clarke Bogard as we sought to extend the advantage.
Our continued pressure told as we grabbed a fourth goal on 79 minutes, with Cy Goddard working hard to hold onto possession before playing in to the feet of Azzaoui. He ferried the ball out to Georgiou on the right side of the box with the wide man cutting in, turning inside a defender and firing in from eight yards out.
The visitors refused to lie down, though, and they pulled a goal back on 85 minutes when Amoo’s downward header from Borg’s corner bounced over the line.
The deficit was further reduced three minutes into stoppage time when Borg curled home another free-kick from only slightly further out than his first one, but we had done enough to secure the victory.
Spurs U18s: Voss, Walker-Peters, Walkes, Amos, Maghoma (Stylianides 6), Carter-Vickers, Azzaoui, Pritchard (Muscatt 78), Harrison (Loft 60), Goddard, Georgiou. Substitutes (not used): Daly, Glover (GK).