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Lankshear treble overshadowed as Hammers battle back

West Ham United 4-3 Spurs (Under-18 Premier League)

Sat 03 December 2022, 14:27|Tottenham Hotspur

A hat-trick from Will Lankshear was cancelled out in the second half as West Ham United recovered from 3-1 down to maintain their 100 per cent start to the season in the Under-18 Premier League by inflicting a 4-3 defeat on our youngsters on Saturday.

Having established a 2-1 half-time lead and missed a number of other chances during a dominant first period, we appeared to be well on the way to claiming three points in our bid to close the gap to the runaway league leaders.

But just like they did against Chelsea in midweek, the Hammers showed resilience to battle back from two goals down and scored three times in 12 second-half minutes to turn the game around.

We went into the first-versus-second clash some 12 points behind the Hammers but, with two good wins over Crystal Palace and Norwich City behind us over the last week, we carried our momentum forward and were much the better side in the first half.

Back from an impressive spell with England Under-16s, Mikey Moore’s early side-footed effort was saved by Mason Terry with Tyrese Hall hitting the post on the rebound, while Moore tested Terry again a few minutes later before we took an 11th-minute lead, Jaden Williams sending in a terrific delivery from the right flank for Lankshear to steer an equally impressive header inside the far post.

Just three minutes later, Lankshear had his second as Moore skipped over a challenge as he broke into space through the middle of the pitch before shifting the ball left for the striker, who again came up with a deadly finish, this time across goal and low into the far corner. Lewis Orford managed to pull one back for the hosts on 18 minutes, guiding in from close range after a cut-back from the left as we gave away possession and a goal cheaply, but we stayed on the front foot and Lankshear was denied his hat-trick by a good sliding block from Hammers defender Kaelan Casey in the box, before Williams spurned two big chances, first powering a header wide from Moore’s left-sided cross and then firing the wrong side of the post from the impressive George Abbott’s cut-back.

You felt we might come to rue those missed opportunities but when Lankshear produced a nonchalant finish from a tight angle on the right after Rio Kyerematen had squeezed a pass through to him via a slight deflection seven minutes after the restart, we had every reason to believe we were on course to end the Hammers’ perfect record of nine wins from nine.

Unfortunately, though, our performance fell a little flat after that and West Ham took full advantage, Oliver Scarles rifling across goal and into the top corner from the left angle in the 65th minute before Divin Mubama equalised by guiding the ball home after we’d failed to clear our lines on the edge of our box eight minutes later. And on 77 minutes, the turnaround was complete as Mubama rose highest in the box to power home a header from Orford’s corner.

We continued to try to carve out openings despite the blow of falling behind, but the closest we went to an equaliser was when Jamie Donley’s 22-yard free-kick clipped the crossbar on its way over in the last minute of normal time.

‘Tough to take’

Under-18s Coach Stuart Lewis was bitterly disappointed to see his side emerge on the losing end of a keenly-contested London derby, underlining afterwards: “Our first-half performance was excellent and probably the only thing missing from that period was the distance in the scoreline. We should have been 3-1 or 4-1 up on the balance of play and our chances created in the final third, and on reflection we probably paid for that later in the game.

“I thought Will Lankshear was outstanding today, his three goals were really impressive and his all-round game was good too, but when you’re that dominant as a team in a match, you have to make it 3-1 or 4-1. We know it’s a tough place to come to, they’re top of the league, but to concede three goals in a short space of time is disappointing and to lose in that manner is tough to take. The boys – and we as staff – have to learn from that and use those lessons in the weeks ahead.”

West Ham United 4-3 Spurs (Under-18 Premier League)

Spurs: Gunter (c), Abbott, Linton, Andiyapan, Dorrington, Kyerematen, Williams (Ajayi 46), Hall (Olusesi 53), Lankshear, Donley, Moore (Irow 83). Substitutes (not used): Krasniqi, Akhamrich.