Archie Woods has expressed his delight at making his first start for West Ham United U23s in Friday’s 1-0 win over Swansea City.
Woods featured for the U23s starting XI for the first time as Mark Robson’s side claimed three points against the Swans in their final Group F game of the Premier League Cup.
The 18-year-old midfielder has made a couple of showings from the substitutes’ bench for the developmental squad this season and was pleased to get a first start for the team under his belt.
“I think it was really good to be involved,” Woods told West Ham TV. “The new gaffer has come in and has given me and a few of the other young boys the opportunity to show what we’ve got to offer. Friday’s game was a perfect opportunity to do that.
“Starting this game shows that the manager has a lot of trust and faith in me. He said to me before the game just to go out and show what I can do, and how it was my opportunity to get into the U23s team. I feel like I did that.”
Starting this game shows that the manager has a lot of trust and faith in me. He said to me before the game just to go out and show what I can do.
Woods had the chance to share Friday’s match with two of his U18s teammates as full-backs Junior Robinson and Regan Clayton also came into the U23s team.
The young midfielder said that sharing the match against Swansea with the duo even more special.
“We’re a very close group, the U18s, and it’s great to get this appearance with the two boys,” he continued.
“We’re all proud of each other and it shows to the other U18s that making that step us is possible. If we can come up, then so can they, and it gives the group a real good push. If we go back into the U18s then it gives everyone a lift and allows that group to kick on as well.”
A close game, West Ham took the lead just prior to half-time as first-team winger Andriy Yarmolenko headed home Armstrong Okoflex’s corner. However, a red card for the Ukrainian on 50 minutes meant the Irons had to get through almost the entire second half with ten men.
Woods felt the team showed true character to dig deep and hold onto both the victory and the clean-sheet.
“For the first half, I feel like we controlled it. Obviously in the second half, we had the sending off, but the boys dug did defensively and everyone worked really hard.
“We did really well to keep a clean-sheet, given we had ten men for the majority of the second half.”
With another first checked off his list, Woods is aiming to earn even more minutes for Robson’s U23s team between now and the end of the season.
The young midfielder has also aided the u18s into a strong position in their division at the top of the table, and is hopeful of helping that side finish the campaign strongly as well.
Woods added: “If I get opportunities then I want to get in and around the U23s and show what I can do. Hopefully I get the chance to play in a league match next.
“I’ll take confidence from this now. I think I’m proving that I can do it at this level and hopefully the manager saw that in this game.
“When I’m not involved with the U23s though, I’m enjoying the U18s season. We’re high up the league and we want to finish as high up the table as possible.”