|24.11.12: West Ham United U18s 3 Norwich City U18s 2|
|Saturday, 01 December 2012 09:31|
On a very overcast Saturday morning, both teams kindly remembered and paid their respects with a minutes silence to the bereavement during the past week of Alf Thain. Alf had supported the Hammers since the 1930s, especially enjoying his youth football over many years. Flowers were laid in the centre circle.
Despite heavy overnight rain the ground staff made sure the pitch was in immaculate condition for this return Barclays Under-18s fixture to go ahead.
With Norwich in the lower echelons of Group A, and with a fine win the previous week over Arsenal, they took advantage of West Ham’s defending on just three minutes when the normally reliable Onnariase made a rare error, under hitting a back past to debutant goalkeeper Guzman-Rosique. Norwich’s Young intercepted and rounded the goalkeeper with a couple of touches to roll the ball into a now unguarded net.
However the lead lasted just five minutes as Bywater delivered the ball from the right into the Norwich far post and Mavila finished high into the net to equalise for West Ham.
On eighteen minutes good play from West Ham’s Cullen and Bywater provided an opportunity for Sadlier, and with the goal beckoning he pulled his effort wide of a post.
Twenty one minutes in and Norwich came again, after some good manoeuvring inside the West Ham penalty area it was Young who toe- poked the ball past Guzman-Rosique inside the post for his second goal.
On forty four minutes, Bywater again got forward, but his shot eluded the target.
At the start of the second half West Ham upped their counter attacks, and a well-directed header from Figueira could have had severe consequences for Norwich.
On fifty eight minutes, a further decent corner from Bywater caused pandemonium in the Norwich penalty area and the defenders were relieved to see the ball brush a post to safety.
With sixty four minutes played, an inviting cross from the left by Mavila had Sharpe scampering from his goal to push away for a corner.
The Norwich defence by now had their work cut out to maintain their slim advantage, especially as the visitors were getting less and less into West Ham territory.
By now driving rain had set in and with West Ham at the helm it seemed inevitable that the score line would not remain as it was until the end.
And so it proved on eighty minutes as Sadlier levelled the scores again for West Ham following a melee in the Norwich penalty area, managing to bundle the ball home from close range
A minute later, Sadlier reacted swiftly to a defence-splitting through ball along the slippery turf to lash home past Sharpe from around twenty yards. On the balance of play it was not an undeserved winner for West Ham.
With Norwich returning home pointless it would appear certain both clubs will go their separate ways when the new Academy groups are announced for the New Year.
Let’s hope that both clubs at this level can be rivals again during the season whether in the League Play-Offs or through FA Youth Cup involvement.
West Ham Line-Up: Guzman-Rosique, Saifa (81. Gogo), Page (65. Girdlestone), Miles, Nasha, Onnariase (69. Harney), Bywater, Cullen, Figueira, Sadlier, Mavila.
City Line-Up: Sharpe, Carroll, Grant, Hayden (78. Efete), McFadden, Lokko, Norman, Young, Browne (66. Peacock), Hodd, Sarmento (54. Eaton-Collins).
Subs Not Used: Gill, St. Louis
Norwich City Man of the Match: Roderick Young.
Match Report courtesy of Rob Maynard