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Valiant performance by Under-21s goes unrewarded in key clash

West Ham United 1-0 Spurs (Premier League 2)

Fri 11 November 2022, 21:26|Tottenham Hotspur

A bolt from the blue from Oliver Scarles saw West Ham United snatch all three points as our Under-21s' luckless run continued at Rush Green on Friday night.

In what was a must-win London derby for both sides, given how we both occupied the Premier League 2 relegation places at kick-off, our brave battlers gave absolutely everything over the 90 minutes, but were undone in first-half stoppage time when 16-year-old Scarles fizzed a free-kick into the top corner from 25 yards out.

We'd kept the Hammers pinned in for long periods throughout the contest, while Jamie Donley's penalty early in the second half was saved by Krisztian Hegyi as we pressed and harried the hosts at every opportunity, but as has been the case on numerous occasions this season, the ball just wouldn't go in and we ended up being leapfrogged by our opponents, who moved off the bottom thanks to their second win in five days, with the campaign now going on hiatus for the World Cup.

You'd have to believe that we'll have every chance of climbing the table when the action resumes in January, though, if we play like we did for spells in this game. Indeed, it was attack versus defence in our favour for much of the first period as we swarmed all over the Hammers whenever they had the ball and looked for some quick, incisive passes through the middle, but we lacked a little something in the final third to trouble Hegyi.

Kallum Cesay curled a left-footed shot marginally over in our best chance on 33 minutes, while Harvey White's long-ranger just cleared the crossbar, but it was the Hammers who somehow went into the half-time break in front when White was penalised for a challenge 25 yards out after we'd lost possession further up the pitch and Scarles produced a sublime goal from the resulting set-piece.

We had a chance to restore parity eight minutes after the restart when Romaine Mundle was tripped just inside the box and a penalty was given, but Donley's effort from 12 yards was saved by Hegyi diving away to his left. Nile John, White and Donley all tested Hegyi as the game went on, although West Ham did find a couple of openings down the right channel as Kamarai Swyer and substitute Gideon Kodua sped forward, but the former dragged his shot across goal and the latter was denied by a superb block in our box from Brooklyn Lyons-Foster in added time. We'd gone closest just seconds before Kodua's chance when a corner was worked to White, but his rising shot from inside a congested 18-yard box took a slight deflection and was sharply saved by Hegyi, typifying our frustrations on the night.

Having been badly affected by injuries and suspensions throughout the first half of the campaign, there will now be a chance to reset and refresh ourselves before we look to push on back up the table in the New Year.

West Ham United 1-0 Spurs (Premier League 2)

West Ham United: Hegyi, Ashby (c) (Forbes 18), Casey, Potts, Greenidge, Laing, Earthy, Appiah-Forson, Mubama (Kodua 79), Swyer (Clayton 87), Scarles (Woods 87). Substitute (not used): Kinnear.

Spurs: Keeley, Cesay, Craig (c), Fagan-Walcott, Lyons-Foster, Sarr (John 46), Donley, Devine, Santiago, White, Mundle (Ajayi 78). Substitutes (not used): Hayton, Sayers, Muir.

Match data

Goal: West Ham - Scarles 45+4.

Yellow cards: West Ham - Potts 36; Spurs - Craig 37, White 45+3, Fagan-Walcott 82.

Referee: Paul Johnson.

Venue: Rush Green Stadium, Romford.

Weather: Partly cloudy, gentle breeze, 12 degrees.