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Under-18s top of the tree at Christmas despite Hammers defeat

Spurs 2-4 West Ham (Under-18 Premier League)

Sat 16 December 2023, 13:00|Tottenham Hotspur

Our Under-18s will sit top of the league table on Christmas despite a 4-2 defeat to West Ham United at Hotspur Way on Saturday afternoon.

Despite a strong start with Callum Olusesi giving us the lead midway through the first half, the Hammers had turned the game on its head by the halfway stage of the second - Elisha Sowumni levelling on 47 minutes before substitute Liam Jones fired them ahead 19 minutes later. We got ourselves back on terms through Damola Ajayi within eight minutes of going behind but two goals in the final 11 minutes of the game through Sowumni and Mehmet Halim saw us suffer just our third defeat of the season.

Heading into the game, we had the opportunity to move eight points clear at the summit however the victory for the second-placed Hammers means our lead has been cut to just two points.

From the off, there were signs that the encounter was not going to be an easy one for Stuart Lewis' side. While we were missing key players in Oliver Irow, Mikey Moore and James Roswell, we were also facing perhaps our toughest test of the campaign in high-flying West Ham. And the Hammers' threat was clear from the very first minute as they should have taken the lead when Sowunmi went one on one with Casrey Bloedorn, only to skew wide.

Despite that early scare though, it was actually ourselves who largely controlled the opening exchanges and took a deserved lead when Olusesi prodded home Archie Chaplin's flick on from a corner on 23 minutes.

However, the Irons' threat remained prevalent and they should have certainly been level five minutes before the break when Sowunmi again found himself through on goal with only our man between the sticks to beat - this time he could only find the base of the right-had post. Moments later, we then spurned a similar opportunity of our our as Ellis Lehane saw an goal-bound effort thwarted by a last-gasp block.

While we had a handful of other chances in the first period, not finding the second goal would always keep the game and the visitors alive. And so it proved as, just two minutes into the second half, some intricate play down the right saw the unmarked Sowunmi picked out by Gabriel Caliste in the box and he steered the ball in with the help of a deflection. Caught napping immediately after the break, we were then caught on the break on 66 minutes as substitute Jones was set free down the left before he fired under Bloedorn and in. With the advantage, the Irons should have then made sure of it on 72 minutes as Jones turned creator, whipping a teasing free-kick into the box, but Josh Ayala, who was presented with a free header, couldn't quite make contact.

And, as we had been made to rue a missed opportunity, so were our visitors on 74 minutes as, against the run of play, Calum Logan made good progress down the left before picking out Ajayi in the box, who showed composure to guide the ball home from just inside the area.

In getting back on terms in such fashion, we perhaps needed time to steady ourselves in the game, but an such opportunity was not provided by our opponents who were straight back on the charge in the hunt for a third. We were made very aware of that just two minutes after levelling as substitute Jerry Umolu was allowed to reclaim a loose ball and get a shot away on the edge of the area. Thankfully it was tame and easily gathered by Bloedorn.

It wasn't long though until they did restore their advantage. On 78 minutes, the ever-threatening Sowunmi played a neat one-two with Umolu on the edge of the are before being threaded through into the are and finishing. Coming just four minutes after our leveller, it was a sucker punch but it didn't stop our front-footed endeavour and we almost got ourselves back on terms once more nine minutes from time, only for Fin Herrick to pull off a smart save to deny Tyrese Hall from range.

Ultimately, it wasn't to be our day in Enfield though as, in the final minute of the game, substitute Halim rose highest at the back post to head home the Hammers' fourth of the afternoon, securing them all three points.

Spurs 2-4 West Ham United (Under-18 Premier League)

Spurs: Bloedorn, Black, Logan, King, Chaplin (c), Hall, Ajayi, Morgan (Beggs 86), Lehane (Orr 86), Olusesi, Adewole. Substitutes (not used): Warren, Adelusi, Egan-Riley.

Match data

Goals: Spurs - Olusesi 23, Ajayi 74; West Ham - Sowunmi 47, 79, Jones 66, Halim 90.

Yellow cards: Spurs - Chaplin, King; West Ham - Mayers, Briggs, Akpata.

Venue: Hotspur Way.

Weather: Cloudy, 11 degrees.