Tony's Close Call

TONY Carr was pleased to see his side safely negotiate Luton Town in the Third Round of the FA Youth Cup at Upton Park, but the Hammers Academy Director admitted his side made hard work of their 2-1 victory.

He said: "I think that we had about 20 shots on goal and on another night could have scored more goals without question. We dominated for long periods, opened the opposition up, but were just not clinical enough in front of goal.

"We could of, and should of, made it a little bit easier on ourselves, but at the back we were very solid. Our centre-backs, James Tomkins and Liam White, were outstanding and I'd give equal praise to our full-backs Ryan Andrews and Joe Widdowson who supported the centre-halves very well.

"The only real mistake they made was when they put their hands up for offside when it wasn't and their player took advantage to cross and Luton scored. Had they got a second goal that would have been costly after dominating the game for so long, but fortunately we had enough in the tank to hold on.

"We were wasteful in possession and in front of goal, and on another night that might have cost us so there is work to be done, but we're pleased to have gone through."

Tony's Under-18 team have been in fine form this season, but the Hammers Academy boss did admit that playing in big stadiums is a factor he has to take into consideration on FA Youth Cup nights.

"We have played a lot better this season," he admitted, "but we are in good form and there is no reason to suggest there are any problems.

"The one thing we have to take on board is playing in big stadiums like Upton Park and how that affects the players. It does something to them, it is that bit more nerve wracking.

"We didn't get a chance to train at Upton Park before the game, we just turned up and played. Sometimes that can work for you, but other times it can make players nervous and they do things that they would not naturally do.

"Boys like Joe Widdowson, Lee Hales and Zavon Hines have never played at Upton Park before, so that was a new experience for them.

"With no disrespect to Luton they came here as underdogs with nothing to lose. We were the favourites and in that situation I'm just glad to be in the next round."

Tony made three substitutions, replacing Ishmael Welsh, Kyel Reid and Zavon Hines.

"Ishmael just cramped up," explained Tony. "It wasn't anything to do with fitness. It happened in this competition last year with players going down with cramp. It just seems to be nervous tension.

"Kyel had been leading up to the game. I think it's fair to say he had some good spells during the game, but as it went on he got more and more tired and the ankle was really aching so he came off.

"Zavon had just run himself into the ground. He did a lot of work without the ball and that really took its toll.

"In the first-half we were playing too much as individuals, taking too many touches of the ball. We were taking the harder option rather than the simple one. But these are young players and they will learn from this experience so they are better next time around."

The draw for the next round of the competiton is scheduled for December 8th.