The striker, on as a second-half substitute, didn’t need a second invitation to score his first goal of the season after Jon Dinzeyi was tripped in the box as the Hammers tried to clear their lines following a corner.
It rounded off a hard-fought second half in which we hadn’t managed to get on the front foot for any extended period of time with Jack Roles, whose early opener was cancelled out by Jahmal Hector-Ingram’s long-range effort shortly before the interval, spurning our best chance when he fired over the bar.
Nevertheless, we picked up our third Under-18 Premier League win in four games and re-established some momentum heading into the midweek UEFA Youth League trip to Monaco.
Defenders Nick Tsaroulla and Dinzeyi had to make important blocks early on as the Hammers pushed forward with purpose from the off, although we almost snatched a fourth-minute opener when Japhet Tanganga’s header from Keanan Bennetts’ corner was pushed away via the near post by goalkeeper Nathan Trott.
His opposite number Brandon Austin was then called upon to make a crucial one-on-one save from Hector-Ingram before we seized the upper hand on 21 minutes when Tashan Oakley-Boothe closed down Trott and the loose ball in the box was pounced upon and lashed in from the left angle by Roles.
We started to find our tempo thereafter and the wide midfield duo of Bennetts and Samuel Shashoua both embarked on penetrative solo runs through the West Ham defence, Bennetts going close when he teased the ball towards the far corner, only to be denied by Trott.
Roles and striker Reo Griffiths tried without success to get on the end of crosses into the box and we were made to pay for that when Hector-Ingram netted a 39th-minute equaliser, the striker receiving the ball in central midfield and firing in from some 30 yards as Austin raced out of his area to try to thwart him.
We struggled to carve out many openings in the second half and aside from Griffiths’ angled shot that was saved by Trott on 50 minutes following a through ball from the excellent Oliver Skipp, we couldn’t really test the visiting custodian.
Conor Coventry drilled just over for West Ham while Roles did likewise at the other end with a side-footed volley – a good opportunity – while Griffiths’ low shot, out from under his feet, coaxed a low stop from Trott in the latter stages.
West Ham were attacking as we entered stoppage time but after we got forward and won a corner, Dinzeyi’s ankles were clipped by Rosaire Longelo as he tried to recycle the ball on the far side of the box and the referee pointed to the spot. Up stepped Sterling, out injured for much of the first part of the campaign, to fire emphatically into the corner and scoop all three points.
JOHN MCDERMOTT, HEAD OF PLAYER DEVELOPMENT, SAID
"It was important that we got a good result but we’d have preferred to have played with more energy and more style. The penalty at the end puts a different slant on the score but in terms of the performance, we set our standards much higher than we achieved today. The biggest disappointment was in our willingness to dig deeper, which I think has been part of the way we’ve played recently. I thought Oliver Skipp was outstanding, he played with a knowledge beyond his years, Reo Griffiths was an attacking threat especially in the opening period, but as a group it wasn’t a particularly pleasing day at the office.
"It’s important that we’re consistent and what we’ve got to do is review that performance because our job is to try to produce footballers capable of working hard as a minimum. That said, our disappointment in the performance is eased slightly because we got the three points and Kazaiah Sterling, who has had a long road back from injury, stepped up and took a really good penalty."
Spurs U18s: Austin, Hinds, Tsaroulla, Skipp, Tanganga, Dinzeyi, Shashoua (Sterling 72), Roles, Griffiths, Oakley-Boothe (c, Patterson, 58), Bennetts. Substitutes (not used): Eyoma, Whiteman (GK).
We’re back in European action on Tuesday afternoon (November 22) as we travel to Monaco on matchday five in the UEFA Youth League. Those players who don’t make the trip will link up with some of our development squad regulars for a match against non-league Hemel Hempstead Town later that evening at their Vauxhall Road ground, kick-off 7.45pm.