Filed: Sunday, 22nd April 2012
By: Willis Jamieson
Nick Haycock's under 18s were narrowly beaten by MK Dons in their final game of the season at Milton Keynes.
Reporting from Milton Keynes for KUMB.com was Willis Jamieson...
The last game of an excellent season saw West Ham travel to Milton Keynes to face the Dons, a team that have only won three games so far this season. With three of their defeats seeing them concede ten goals or more, it was understandable that the young Hammers saw this as an opportunity to take all three points.
However it was clear from the early stages that it might not be as easy as the visitors first thought. The Dons had the majority of possession with the Hammers struggling to find rhythm. Jake Larkins was doing his best to keep it tight with a couple of good saves, but with the post being rattled it seemed only a matter of time until the home side took the lead.
With 32 minutes on the clock and hailstones coming down, the young Dons took a deserved lead with a through-ball splitting the defence that the striker managed to toe-poke past the diving Larkins, playing his first game since recovering from a groin injury.
West Ham enjoyed a little more possession after the goal but still struggled to make the 4-5-1 formation work and went into the break 1-0 down, in clear need of a change in personnel.
With all outfield substitutes playing on an adjoining pitch for the under 16s, the call was made to Nana Yiadom - who had already scored two for the 16s - to replace Amos Nasha. Kieran Sadlier moved into the centre to offer support to Elliot Lee whilst Sam Baxter replaced Jake Larkins in goal which, one assumes, was a planned substitution as Larkins had enjoyed an impressive 45 mins.
The changes improved the Hammers who began to move the ball about nicely. And just 13 minutes into the second half, the Academy boys grabbed an equaliser.
The opportunity came after left back Frazer Shaw battled hard to win the ball back deep inside the opposition half. Shaw found Elliot Lee, who played in Mathias Fanimo to slide past the previously-untested Dons 'keeper. Things got even better a minute later when Jake Young's cross was poked home by Elliott Lee, putting West Ham into the lead.
Immediately after Lee's goal, Jake Young limped off to be replaced by Cheye Alexander - another who had been called over from the under 16s game. With their team ahead the away fans were hoping that the lead would lead to the Dons capitulating as they had done so many times this season - but credit to the home side who dug in and pulled themselves level from the penalty spot after Kenzer Lee pulled down a Dons striker.
Thereafter the pattern followed that of the first half with MK Dons seeing more of the ball and looking the more dangerous. Within three minutes of the equaliser, the hosts had the ball in the back of the net again - only for the linesman to rule it offside.
However they didn't have to wait too long for another chance and with their next attack, the Dons' winger cut in on his right foot and hit an unstoppable shot past an outstretched Baxter.
A couple of attacks towards the end of the game saw Fanimo, who had worked hard all game on the wing, produce some neat skill - but with West Ham leaving gaps at the back in search of an equaliser it was the home side who scored next to make it 4-2 on the stroke of full time.
Although it was a young West Ham side featuring only two second year scholars, manager Nick Haycock will have been disappointed with the lack of possession throughout - although at least the the second half had been an improvement on the first.
West Ham Utd under 18s: Jake Larkins, Jake Young, Nigel Seidu, Kenzer Lee, Frazer Shaw, Taylor Miles, Amos Nasha, Kieran Bywater, Mathias Fanimo, Kieran Sadlier, Elliot Lee. Subs: Sam Baxter (46) Nana Yiadom (46) Cheye Alexander (60). Emmanuel Ona-Biase, Josh Cullen.
*The under 16s fared rather better in their match winning 5-1, with goals from Nana Yiadom (2), Emmanuel Ona-Biase, Marcio Martins and Moses Makasi.
* For all the latest from The Academy follow me, Willis Jamieson, here on KUMB or on Twitter @WillisJamieson.
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