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West Ham U-18s v Spurs U-18s, 24.03.07

Courtesy of:- Ray Lo, and the Spurs List.
FA Premier Academy League
Little Heath sports ground
Saturday 24th March 2007, 10.30am

WEST HAM 1 (0) SPURS 0 (0)

Hales (pen), 59

Referee:- Mr. C. Hadzidakis

West Ham (4-4-2) (Claret/Blue); Included Fitzgerald, Hales, Sears, Hunt, Hines

Booked:- Sears, Fitzgerald

Spurs (4-5-1) (White/Blue):- Stroud; Alex Smith, Hughton, Kasim, Martin, Livermore(C), Hutton, Mason(Adam Smith 86), Medley(Obika 46), Hutchins, Townsend.

Booked:- Hutchins 57(late), Hughton 59(Abuse), Kasim 83(late)

It was a cold windy morning for this early kick-off. I only just got there in time for the kick-off There were no team sheets for the small crowd of around eighty, who came either to watch the U-16ís or the U-18ís on adjoining pitches. You could turn and watch the other match during breaks of play and sometimes the ball would land on the other pitch especially as the crosswind was blowing any high balls towards us.

Spurs lined up with Jake Livermore alongside Joe Martin at the heart of the defence with the returning Alex Smith at right back and Cian Hughton at left back. Ryan Mason joined Daniel Hutchins and Yasser Kasim in central midfield with David Hutton on the right and Andros Townsend on the left in support of Luke Medley up front.

West Ham kicked off this inter-group match looking to keep up their chase for the group title which we helped them with last week. The game settled into a midfield tussle with neither side gaining any advantage over the other. Spurs had the first shot after eleven minutes from Mason which did not tax the keeper, and our first corner after seventeen minutes. The first real shot from the home side came in the 26th minute. There was plenty of good approach play but both defences looked comfortable and I thought that we just shaded the half.

Jonathan Obika replaced Medley for the second half which began with a little flourish from the Hammers, which had Richard Stroud parrying an effort from Sears and saving the following shot. The ref produced his first card when Hutchins failed to control a ball and tried to retrieve it. The game turned on the double substitution by West Ham coach Carr bringing on Hunt and Hines. A minute after they came on the both got into the box and Hines went down under a challenge from Hughton. The ref awarded a penalty which so infuriated Hughton that he was booked for using abusive language to the official.

Lee Hales sent Stroud the wrong way with the spot kick. This led to the home side getting on top, pushing Spurs back into their half for most of the rest of the game. Stroud came to the rescue when he saved at the feet of Sears.

Inglethorpe replaced Mason with Adam Smith as he tried to spur them forward. Livermore was making more and more runs from the back and Sears was booked putting a stop to one of them. This left space at the back which the Hammers tried to exploit and Kasim was booked for plugging one such break. Hines went down twice in one attack down the left, but without the Drogba screams of agony.

In the last five minutes both sides hit the post. Townsend who had switched wings had made another good run, skipped two tackles and drove the ball against the inside of the far post from twenty yards while a minute later Hines headed a corner against the near post. This was followed by Fitzgerald stopping another Townsend run in the corner at the expense of a yellow card.

It was a fairly even game with neither side really threatening the other as the game was played mainly in the middle of the park. We lost a lot of attacking potential by having to play Livermore in defence. Add to that our only striker is obviously not fully fit, and it looked like a draw. The game turned on the penalty incident. Hughton was so adamant that it was not a penalty, he went into the refs book and I have some sympathy for him as the same player clearly dived later on.

The next Academy game is the re-arranged away fixture in Cardiff on Wednesday 28th March kicking off at 2.30pm.


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