STOKE CITY’S Under-18 side missed the opportunity to make it three wins in a week and round off an impressive second half of the season when West Ham United ran out 2-0 winners in the Barclays Under-18 Premier League match at Clayton Wood.
The Potters had been in good form recently, following up a 2-1 win at Wolverhampton Wanderers with a 4-0 victory over Liverpool at the Britannia Stadium on Wednesday, but John Perkins’ side seemed tired following a run of fixtures in quick succession that has seen them play three games in a week at the end of a competitive season.
The opening period was a scrappy affair, but City had the first chance of the game when Ed Sanders attempted an overhead kick at goal from George Waring’s knockdown, but his effort was hit straight at the goalkeeper.
Good play from the Potters then saw them work the ball well on the left wing and Kieran Monlouis played the ball inside to Charlie Ward whose shot from 25-yards went wide of the target.
But despite their decent start, it was the visitors who took the lead 26-minutes in. Nathan Mavila won the ball and went on to fire a low drive on goal that Potters ‘keeper Dale Eve kept out, but Joe Ward followed it up to tap the rebound into an empty net.
Confident after his goal, Ward attempted to grab another with a spectacular bicycle kick from the edge of the box that went just wide of the goal. Mavila went close soon after but dragged his shot across goal and just past the far post.
Stoke’s Ward then set himself up with a great first touch from a high ball and fired a good left-footed strike on goal from outside the box that was well saved by the visiting goalie.
Eve denied the visitors a second with the last action of the half, and John Perkins brought on Marcel Barrington and Ollie Shenton at the break as Stoke searched for an equaliser.
But it was the Hammers who started the second half brighter and Lewis Page came close with a curling effort before Eve saved Jamie Harney’s header from a corner.
Monlouis’ long ball forward found substitute Shenton inside the box who fired a powerful first-time volley wide of the mark.
Joe Hulme then made a crucial block to prevent a goal-bound shot from going in. And the visitors were denied again when Peter Makrillos cleared the ball off the line from a corner.
Waring flicked on Eve’s goal kick for Barrington to run onto and his shot was deflected out for a corner. Shenton then shot over before Barrington had a back-heel cleared off the line.
But it was West Ham who extended their lead with 10-minutes left to play when Djair Parfitt was played in one-on-one with Eve and slotted the ball over the Stoke ‘keeper.
Barrington could only hit his free-kick against the wall and out for a corner when Shenton was fouled just outside the penalty area, and Waring’s header from the resultant corner dipped just over the crossbar.
Waring then laid the ball off to Shenton who drew a good save from the Hammers goalie with the last action of the match, with the visitors running out 2-0 victors.
John Perkins’ side would have liked to end the season on a high with a victory, but the young Potters can be proud of their efforts recently that have seen them put in some impressive performances, none more so than the 4-0 triumph over Liverpool at the Britannia Stadium.
Stoke: Eve; Westley (Shenton, 45), Sanders, Hulme; Cook, Makrillos, Lecygne (Ricketts-Hopkinson, 84), Ward, Monlouis; Waring, Richards (Barrington, 45)
West Ham: Nemrava; Burke, Harney, Onnaraise; Knoyne, Parfitt, Miles (Girdlestone, 78), Makasi, Page; Ward (Boake-Yiadom, 85), Mavila