West Ham U18s earned a place in the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup after going all the way to penalties against Southampton U18s.
After their success in the competition last season, expectations are understandably high for the young Hammers. With a different group of players, West Ham overcame Southampton in a repeat of what was last year’s semi-finals.
Southampton made it difficult this time for our Irons, taking a 1-0 lead just before half time. However, less than five minutes after the break, West Ham found an equaliser via a Favour Fawunmi volley. Despite both teams’ best efforts, these would be the only two goals of the game.
They battled their way through 90 minutes, then extra time but neither side could find a winner and penalties was the only way to seperate them. Oford, Scarles, Jones and Briggs all finished from the spot and goalkeeper Herrick, who pulled off a brilliant save during the shootout, couldn’t be more proud of his teammates.
“They were all outstanding penalties,” he confirmed, when speaking to WHUFC.com. “There is so much bravery to step up and take them as well. We practised them a lot in training…and I could back anyone in a West Ham shirt to score them. They were all unreal pens but there is so much bravery to step up.”
Resilience and bravery are some of the most important attributes you can have as a young player. You have to have them in abundance if you’re going to have any chance of turning professional and the fact they are displaying it at such a young age clearly impressed assistant coach Laurie Coggin.
“Tonight is a real testament to the character and togetherness of the group,” Coggin stated. “It was a tough game against a high-level opposition and it’s no easy feat to come through a game like that after over two hours of football.”
“We showed quality, the boys put their bodies on the line and we showed a great endeavour. It was a brilliant performance. This is a great group of players and we had to dig in at times with injuries and cramp but the players came through against a really good Southampton side so we are delighted.”
Fortunately for West Ham, they are blessed with some real talents throughout their academy at the moment. Many of the players in the U18s age group are playing for the U21s on a regular basis and it really goes to show how special some of them could go on to be.
Undoubtedly, the goal will be for the young Hammers to go and win the FA Youth Cup for a second year in a row. They’re a long way away from it yet, but coming out victorious from a gruelling game like that demonstrates the perseverance they’ll need if they are to match last year’s U18s.