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Under-18s begin season with big win at West Ham

West Ham 1-4 Spurs (Under-18 Premier League)

Sat 12 September 2020, 14:41|Tottenham Hotspur

Our Under-18s started 2020/21 as they mean to go on with an excellent 4-1 victory at West Ham United on Saturday.

In what was our first Under-18 Premier League outing since February following the curtailment of last season, we hit the target inside two minutes at Little Heath thanks to a brilliant strike from the edge of the box by Kallum Cesay.

And there was no stopping us from there. Striker Dane Scarlett had an involvement in all four goals with a brace and two assists, with Tarrelle Whittaker stepping off the bench in the second period to crash home a fantastic fourth goal off the inside of the woodwork. The only blot on our copybook was West Ham’s equaliser, which came from the head of Michael Forbes shortly before the half-hour mark.

Alfie Devine, a summer signing from Wigan Athletic, was impressive in central midfield, with Nile John dropping deep from the number 10 position and driving us forward with some direct runs towards West Ham’s area. Matthew Craig was also influential in the middle of the park, frequently stealing possession from the hosts to put us on the front foot.

It took less than two minutes for us to get off the mark, Yago Santiago playing a neat reverse pass to Scarlett, whose ball across the box from near the byline on the left was thumped home at the first time of asking by full-back Cesay as he arrived at the right-hand corner of the area.

Gael Kileba put a free header over the bar for West Ham while Scarlett had the ball in the net on 14 minutes after Cesay flicked on John’s corner, but the striker was adjudged to have handled as he controlled on his chest and his effort was chalked off. West Ham were looking to exploit our high defensive line with long passes from deep as the first half went on but they found an equaliser from a set-piece on 28 minutes when Kai Corbett’s corner was nodded home by Forbes from 12 yards out in the centre of the box.

Devine’s skill and determination set up our second goal as we regained the lead four minutes later, the midfielder getting away from three defenders to the left of the West Ham box before driving low into the danger zone from the near post, with Scarlett ramming home from close range. Sonny Perkins subsequently got in behind our defence after latching onto a ball over the top, but fired over the bar as he went through on goal, while our goalkeeper and captain Thimothee Lo-Tutala saved well at his near post from Kamarai Simon-Swyer shortly before the break.

Romaine Mundle’s first-time shot from Santiago’s cut-back was repelled by Hammers goalkeeper Josh Roach nearing the hour mark but we grabbed an important third goal on 64 minutes when Scarlett’s burst into the box was halted by Forbes, who clipped the striker’s trailing leg as he changed direction, with Scarlett finding the bottom corner of the net with the resulting penalty.

Scarlett was denied his hat-trick by a near-post block from keeper Roach on 71 minutes after Craig picked him out and he turned away from his marker, but he was involved again as our fourth goal eventually arrived with 13 minutes remaining. Lo-Tutala’s goal-kick was flicked on by the striker to substitute Whittaker, who ran through in the right channel and clipped a looping shot over the goalkeeper and in off the far post in spectacular style.

I thought Dane Scarlett was excellent, Alfie Devine was very good, Matty Craig in midfield as well as Nile John… I could go through the whole team.

Under-18s Coach Matt Taylor

‘A performance full of emotion’

Under-18s Coach Matt Taylor was thrilled with the competitive edge his players showed to kick-off the new campaign: “It was nice to see the work that we’ve done on the training ground come to fruition today,” he said. “The 4-1 scoreline, for the first game of the season, is always very nice and there were some really top performances from our boys. We were ruthless in the final third against the opposition and came away with a very worthy win that starts the season off nicely, but now we go again.

“I thought Dane Scarlett was excellent, Alfie Devine was very good, Matty Craig in midfield as well as Nile John… I could go through the whole team. Tarrelle Whittaker was disappointed that he didn’t start but he came on and scored a fabulous goal and that’s what we need – a togetherness within the squad. We’re in a position where we’ve got competition on a daily basis.”

After nearly six-and-a-half months without a competitive league game at this level, Matt added: “We’re very happy to be back. What we saw today was a team that performed with emotion and hard work. There’s been a lot of frustration that we haven’t been able to get onto the pitch and play football – not just from us, but throughout the game – but today the boys were excellent with their effort. Sometimes we don’t show enough emotion but today the tackles that we won and the way that we played, winning second balls… I was very happy.”

West Ham 1-4 Spurs (Under-18 Premier League)

Spurs: Lo-Tutala (c), Cesay, Hackett, Matthew Craig, Muir, Lusala, Mundle (Whittaker 66), Devine (Cassanova 79), Scarlett, John, Santiago (Mathurin 74). Substitutes (not used): Solberg, J Davies.