Mark Robson: West Ham U23s need to maintain the standard we’ve set
Mark Robson has called on the West Ham United U23s to maintain the high standards they have set themselves this season following Friday’s 1-1 draw with Arsenal.
Keenan Forson had given the Irons, who sit at the top of Premier League 2 Division 1, the early lead at Meadow Park, only for an error to allow Arsenal to equalise and ensure a share of the points.
Having claimed 11 wins in 16 Premier League 2 matches this season, U23s Lead Coach Robson knows just how well his team can play but feels the boys did not quite meet the levels they have shown in previous matches.
“We’re a little bit disappointed,” Robson told whufc.com. “Coming into the game, after a really good performance against Leeds at home, we didn’t get going tonight. We were really sloppy on the ball and we gave possession back to Arsenal too often. I thought Arsenal were really good, and showed loads of energy, and we didn’t.
“We probably had a couple of really good chances to win the game but, on reflection, I’m happy with the point but I’m not happy with the overall performance.”
Robson noted that the frustration in the result and in their own performance was evident in the players at the final whistle, which is a mark of how far the team have come this campaign.
The boys have set the standard now and they need to maintain that. We need to be consistent, and we didn’t do that in this game which is disappointing.
The U23 Lead Coach admitted that, having not been able to get the win, not losing was important for the side.
He continued: “The boys have set the standard now and they need to maintain that. We need to be consistent, and we didn’t do that in this game which is disappointing. But we come away with a point.
“It was mentioned at the end of the game how far the lads have come. To have come here and to have got a point against Arsenal, at this age, everyone was disappointed, and everyone was quiet at the final whistle.
“The overall performance wasn’t quite there today so there’s a bit of disappointment from everybody. But the thing is, although we didn’t win, we were able to get a point from the game.”
It appeared West Ham were ready to go into free-scoring mode once again after Forson gave the away side the lead on nine minutes, capitalising on an Arsenal error to coolly tuck home from a tight angle.
However, the Hammers then found it difficult to keep possession away from Arsenal, who levelled the game just before half-time. A shot from Reuell Walters was spilled by Krisztián Hegyi, allowing Khayon Edwards to tap in for the Gunners.
Despite his mistake for Arsenal’s equaliser, Hegyi proved crucial in denying the home side a late winner, making a superb save as the game ticked into added time at the end of the second half.
Robson was delighted to see the reaction from his goalkeeper, which will play a crucial role in his continued development.
“Krisztián has made a mistake for the goal but that’s okay. Sometimes you make mistakes, and these boys are still learning. It’s how you react, and he reacted really well.
“He made a really great save right at the end, that stopped us from going 2-1 down, and then we had a chance up the other end as well. It’s always a learning curve, because we are still developing.
“I thought Levi came in today and did really well at centre-back. I thought he and AJi did really good in defence. I thought Manny did well at left-back too. There just was not enough good performances on the night but we dust ourselves down and get ready to go again.”
Up next for the U23s is a trip to Exeter City for Premier League Cup action on Tuesday, and Robson is hoping to see the energy that has become a cornerstone of the team’s performances this season back in the team once again.
Speaking on the Exeter match, Robson added: “It’s a chance to bounce back. We’ll see how the lads are in the next couple of days but we go into that game hopefully still confident with what we’re doing and how we’re playing, and we’ll hopefully give ourselves a chance to qualify for the next stage.
“I just think we need a little bit more energy. We lacked a little bit of oomph against Arsenal and we have been doing it in other games. I think that’s where we need to be. We need to be creating and we need runners in behind. Hopefully we’ll be back to that against Exeter.”