Walkes’ low shot crept in at the near post with the aid of a slight deflection with 10 minutes left at the Hammers’ Little Heath academy facility.
And thanks to a couple of late stops from goalkeeper Luke McGee, that goal was enough to give us a hard-fought 1-0 win in the Barclays Under-18 Premier League.
Pulling the strings in the centre of the pitch, Joe Pritchard cut open the Hammers’ defence with a fine through ball after just three minutes – only for defender Josh Pask to cut it out before Shayon Harrison could pounce.
Harrison’s low shot a minute later was easy for home goalkeeper Sam Howes, while a dangerous cut-back from Walkes was dealt with by the Hammers’ defence as we sought an early opener.
West Ham looked dangerous whenever they got forward, as illustrated when Nathan Mavila whipped a free-kick just beyond the far post in the 20th minute.
We might have taken the lead when another forward pass from Pritchard found Daniel Akindayini, but a last-ditch covering tackle from Alex Pike took the ball off the striker’s toe as he shaped to shoot.
That seemed to galvanise the hosts, who enjoyed more of the possession and the better of the chances for the remainder of the first half.
Jerry Amoo’s cross just evaded Djair Parfitt-Williams arriving at the far post on 32 minutes, while McGee was forced to claw the ball away after Kieran Bywater’s corner caught the wind and almost curled in at the far post. Kieran Bailey then sent a long-range shot just over the bar as the Hammers finished the half in the ascendancy.
The impetus was back with us, though, as the second period got underway with Kyle Walker-Peters charging down the right flank and winning a corner, from which Cameron Carter-Vickers’ header looped just wide.
On 53 minutes, Mavila was there to prevent Harrison from getting on the end of a searching ball from Pritchard as we were frustrated by a staunch Hammers defensive operation.
Akindayini and Harrison tested Howes from long range before Akindayini inherited possession at the left corner of the 18-yard box, but there were always bodies in the way and his eventual effort was straight at the West Ham goalkeeper.
The introduction of Kane Vincent-Young and Channing Campbell-Young off the bench led to a few positional switches within our side but it was one of the Hammers’ earlier substitutes who looked the likeliest to hit the target. Marcio Martins almost got on the end of Moses Makasi’s ball into the box, but McGee was quickly off his line to snatch the ball away from the attacker.
Carter-Vickers and then Pritchard tried their luck from outside the area, Howes called upon both times to keep the ball out, before the hosts saw a good chance to take the lead go begging. Again it was Martins to the fore, the unmarked substitute clipping the ball just off target from Bywater’s left-sided free-kick.
We finally broke the deadlock 10 minutes from the end as Harrison controlled Pritchard’s long ball on his chest and laid it off for Walkes who drifted out to the right, cut back inside his marker and drilled a low shot just inside the near post – the ball taking a slight touch off the heel of a defender on its way in.
The Hammers responded by going straight back on the offensive and McGee had to be at his best to palm away a rasping effort from Martins in the 82nd minute. McGee then denied Martins for the second time in a minute from a tight angle, while substitute Zenon Stylianides won a vital tackle on the edge of his own area shortly afterwards as we withstood the hosts’ pressure.
A 90th minute free-kick from Bywater was dealt with, while Amoo was off target in the last chance of the game – signalling an impressive win for our youngsters.
Spurs: McGee, Walker-Peters, Georgiou, Walkes, Maghoma (Vincent-Young 67), Carter-Vickers, Ross (Campbell-Young 67), Pritchard, Akindayini, Harrison, Goddard (Stylianides 81). Sub (not used): Priestley (GK).