By Nick Teale
Arsenal Under-18s registered a 1-0 win over West Ham United on Wednesday morning.
Benik Afobe scored the game's only goal shortly before half-time in the Premier Academy League clash at the Gunners' training ground.
The Gunners' youngsters have already wrapped up their divisional title and two further fixtures to contend with before the play-offs in May.
Nine of Steve Bould's starting XI had also started the Reserves' 3-0 win over Portsmouth in midweek, with James Dunn wearing the gloves and Roarie Deacon coming in for Nacer Barazite.
The Hammers had the first opportunity of the game five minutes in but, after being held up by Cedric Evina, Daniel Subuola hit his shot straight at Dunn.
Afobe then struck an effort wide before Daniel Boateng hit the post with a low shot from the right side of the area. The defender had come forward for a corner and almost capitalised after West Ham failed to clear.
With 19 minutes played Luke Freeman looked for Deacon, but his cut-back across the six-yard box was just behind the midfielder. Deacon tried to control the ball but was always struggling to get a shot away before the Hammers' were able to clear.
The visitors had to wait until the 35th minute to fashion their second opportunity but then managed two within quick succession. First Subuola slid a cross wide of the bar post and then Robert Hall turned Mathias Fanimo's low cross over the bar from a matter of yards after some good work down the left flank.
Arsenal would capitalise.
With two minutes remaining until half-time, Conor Henderson picked out Benik Afobe and the striker slotted home what would turn out to be the winning goal.
The striker went close again five minutes after the break. However this time he lofted his shot over the bar.
Bould's side had further chances to extend their lead but Ignasi Miquel headed over from a corner and Paco Craig did well to clear substitute Jernade Meade's cross before Afobe could meet it.
West Ham also created opportunities and Subuola forced Dunn into a fine save with 69 minutes on the clock when he rose to connect with Dominic Vose's floated free kick at the back post. The ball was heading for the bottom corner but the Arsenal keeper stretched low to his right to make the save.
Then, with 10 minutes remaining, Evina had to hack off the line to prevent Hall from equalising when a Hammers' free kick found its way out to him on the edge of the area.
The visitors had a final chance to snatch a point with seven minutes remaining but Fanimo smashed into the side of the target from a right angle on the right, ensuring victory for Arsenal.
- Hajrovic 86
- Freeman 63
- Afobe Goal!
- Meade 63
- Angha 86
West Ham United
- Vose 79
- Subuola 79
- Wearen 60
- Tombides 79
- Werndly 79
- Hurley 60