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U18 Premier League: Top performers from 24th February 2024

[Credit: Craig Galloway]

A full weekend of fixtures took place in the U18 Premier League this week. West Ham United still lead the way in the south but Chelsea are now the closest to catching them as they overtook Tottenham Hotspur to move into second. Meanwhile in the north, Manchester United extended their lead at the top and Blackburn Rovers moved off the foot of the table. Here are the standout stars from another thrilling week of academy football.

Zack Stritch, Blackburn Rovers

Zack Stritch scored twice in Blackburn Rovers’ 3-1 win away at Everton. With the game level at 1-1 at the break, Stritch put Blackburn in front on the hour mark before adding his second just under 15 minutes later to secure Rovers’ first league win since September. The 18-year-old has scored five goals in nine U18 Premier League matches this season and has also made nine appearances in Premier League 2.

Harry Hawkins, Derby County

Harry Hawkins provided two assists as Derby County beat Stoke City 3-1. The 17-year-old set up Justin Oguntolu’s opening goal in the first half before providing the assist for Cruz Allen to score Derby’s third after the break. The midfielder has split his time between the U18 & U21 setup at Derby over the last two seasons with increasing appearances in Premier League 2 where he recently scored his first goal at that level.

Joshua Ajala, West Ham United

Joshua Ajala bagged a brace to earn West Ham United a 2-1 win against Southampton. The forward opened the scoring after 20 minutes and added his second before half time to put the Hammers in control of the game. The forward’s double takes him into double figures for league goals this season with his tally now at 11 goals in 15 games. It’s fair to say he’s adapted brilliantly to his first season at U18 level.

Reece Evans, Leicester City

Reece Evans netted both goals in Leicester City’s 2-2 draw away at Reading despite starting the game from the bench. The Northern Ireland U19 international entered the pitch at half time and equalised for the Foxes five minutes later. Leicester then fell behind again but Evans equalised for a second time with seven minutes left on the clock. The forward is now up to three goals this season.

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