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Under 18s progress to elite stage

Filed: Monday, 6th March 2017
By: Staff Writer

West Ham United's Under 18s are through to the second phase of the Premier League - by the skin of their teeth.

With the top four from both North and South divisions progressing to form an eight-team elite national league, Steve Potts' squad qualified by virtue of finishing fourth in the South division behind Chelsea, Arsenal and Reading.

And in order to do so the Hammers had to rely on a Norwich comeback against Fulham - who were battling United for the fourth and final spot - to qualify; the Cottagers needed a win to dislodge West Ham from fourth place but could only draw 2-2 at Motspur Park, despite having led the Canaries 2-0.

"I saw Fulham were 2-0 up and then thought ‘we won’t make it’ but Norwich fought back and we’ve sneaked into the top four," assistant manager Mark Phillips told whufc.com. "We’ve certainly done it the hard way!"

West Ham's Under 18s - who had lost the three preceding matches against Norwich, Aston Villa and Arsenal - ended their league campaign with a 3-0 defeat at home to Chelsea last weekend.

The Blues topped the South Division followed by Arsenal, Reading and then West Ham. In the North, Manchester City finished their campaign nine points clear of second-placed Manchester United, themselves ahead of Liverpool (on goal difference) and Blackburn Rovers.

Those eight teams will play each other once on a league basis between now and May, with the winners being crowned overall Premier League champions. The competition has previously been won by Fulham (2012/13), Everton (2013/14), Middlesbrough (2014/15) and Manchester City (2105/16).

Top of Under 18s Premier League (South): Final

1. Chelsea 16-4-2 52
2. Arsenal 12-5-5 41
3. Reading 12-3-7 39
4. West Ham Utd 10-4-8 34
5. Fulham 9-6-7 33
6. Aston Villa 9-6-7 33

Top of Under 18s Premier League (North): Final

1. Manchester City 17-4-1 55
2. Manchester Utd 14-4-4 46
3. Liverpool 14-4-4 46
4. Blackburn Rovers 13-5-4 44
5. Everton 11-6-5 39
6. Derby County 10-2-10 32

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