STOKE CITY'S Under-18s were thwarted by a late West Ham equaliser after performing well in their latest League outing at Little Heath.
The young Potters had led since the early stages of the game thanks to Kieran Monlouis, but were indebted to the brilliance of captain Dale Eve.
The Bermudan international pulled off a number of fine saves, but was helpless as Nathan Mavila grabbed the equaliser ten minutes from time.
Eve was called into action as early as the first minute of the game to make a crucial stop to deny Nana Boakye-Viadom from getting on the scoresheet.
But City overcame that uneasy start to take the lead in the tenth minute when Peter Makrillos delivered a right wing cross which deflected off a West Ham defender and fell invitingly for Monlouis to provide the finish touch from close range.
In heavy rain, chances were few and far between as the conditions contributed to the game being rather scrappy, but Eve came to the Potters' rescue just before the break to keep out efforts from Lewis Page and Kieran Sadlier for the Hammers.
The hosts made changes for the second half as they attempted to get back on level terms and it took some resilient work from City to protect the lead.
Indeed, Kris Scott could have doubled the lead when he found himself in a good position midway through the half, but blazed his shot wide of the target.
City appeared to be holding out to claim a hard-earned win when the Hammers struck in the closing stages as Mavila produced a clinical finish from close range after Sadlier had whipped a corner into the box which was only half-cleared.
City: Eve, Westley, Taylor (Pickerill), Taylor, Sanders, Hulme, Ward, Lecygne, Scott, Makrillos (Cook), Monlouis, Richards.