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Monday 6 January Updated Wednesday 18 February

'It was a big learning curve'

Captain for the day Stewart Downing felt a goal could have made all the difference for an inexperienced West Ham United side at Nottingham Forest on Sunday.

The Hammers suffered a 5-0 loss to end their participation in the FA Cup with Budweiser, as Forest notched four goals in the final 25 minutes of the contest.

Downing said that the visitors perhaps paid the price for chasing the game in the closing stages, and that West Ham's youngsters still emerged from the contest with credit.

"I thought we started very well to be honest," he explained. "We were still in the game after the penalty - Modibo had a half-chance, Rav had a free kick saved and we were acquitting ourselves well.

"We made it quite difficult for them [at that stage], but when they got the second goal we were a little naive in that we kept going and trying to score. Credit to the lads that they kept going, but we left ourselves open to concede.

"It was a big learning curve for the lads and it just shows what you have to do to play in this league. They're a Championship side, and of a high standard.

"It would have been good to see how Forest dealt with it had we scored the equaliser. We'd have got the momentum to go on as it was a good time to get a goal, but once they got the second they had experienced players to see the game out.

"We kept going forward when maybe we should have kept the scoreline down, and they punished us. The young lads did really well, but the last 15 minutes wasn't good enough from us."

Downing made his first start since suffering an ankle injury at Liverpool in early December and he was pleased to get more minutes under his belt ahead of Wednesday's Capital One Cup semi-final at Manchester City.

He added: "I'm pleased to have got through the game, I probably wanted to play on a little longer to be honest, but no arguments as from the manager's point of view he wants to keep us fresh and fit for Wednesday."

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