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Under 18s: West Ham Utd 3-2 Norwich City

Filed: Saturday, 24th November 2012
By: Willis Jamieson

On a cold and wet morning at Little Heath, West Ham Under 18s moved up to third in the National Premier League Group 1 after coming from behind to beat bottom of the table Norwich in a thrilling 3-2 display.

Two goals from Kieran Sadlier and one from Nathan Mavila meant that the young Hammers overtake Everton in the group and cling on to hope of progressing to the Elite Group Stage.

Before the game, players and fans held a minutes silence in tribute to Alf Thain who has shown his support for the Academy sides for many years. Alf passed away last week at the age of 92.

The game started with both teams looking to attack, but even though West Ham had twice as many points in the league it was the away side that would take the lead. A mix-up at the back saw the Norwich striker intercept a back pass and tapped in to an empty net.

The lead didn’t last long as just five minutes later after some neat work down the right hand side Kieran Bywater played a clever chip which was neatly converted on the volley by Nathan Mavila.

The half continued to see both sides looking to attack with some excellent passing football from the Academy side as the ball zipped around in the wet.
However it was Norwich that would once again take the lead. A free kick from just outside the area wasn’t cleared properly allowing the City striker to toe poke the ball home.

The second half was an excellent display from the home side as they looked to get back into the game. A lot of pressure coming down the left hand side saw a number of crosses and corners creating chances in the City box. Whether it was blocks, saves or hitting the crossbar the ball just wouldn’t seem to go in.

With just 10 minutes to go all the pressure West Ham had exerted paid off. A header from yet another corner was palmed onto the crossbar by the City keeper but the resulting goalmouth scramble saw the ball poked home.

Both Kieran Sadlier and Jamie Harney celebrated scoring although it looked like Sadlier got the final touch. Either way, it was a well deserved goal for the amount of pressure they had built up.

With just a few minutes to go Kieran Bywater split the Norwich defence with a great ball that left Sadlier one on one with the keeper. He made no mistake as he powered it inside the left hand post.

West Ham held out for an excellent three points having produced a good team performance. The last game of the group comes at Blackburn next Saturday with the Hammers needing a win to guarantee them a place in the Elite Group stage.

West Ham Utd: Guzman, Siafa, Page (Girdlestone), Miles, Nasha, Onnariase (Harney), Bywater, Cullen, Figueira, Sadlier, Mavila.

* I interviewed Kieran Sadlier after the game; this can be seen in the forthcoming Chelsea match day programme.

Willis Jamieson may also be found on Twitter at twitter.com/WillisJamieson.

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