Keen's First-team Attitude

KEVIN Keen fielded nine players with first-team experience in the Reserve side that won 1-0 over Norwich City at Upton Park, and the West Ham United Reserve team boss admitted that he was impressed with the application of his players in tough conditions at the Boleyn Ground.

Petr Mikolanda scored the game's only goal on 21 minutes, a spectacular diving header from Jemel Henry's cross. It was a slightly unusual system for the Reserves, playing with a back three of James Collins, Carl Fletcher and Elliott Ward, with Henry and Clive Clarke operating as wing-backs.

But Kevin was pleased to see his side get back to winning ways against the Canaries.

"Obviously I was glad to get the three points and I was very pleased with our attitude towards the game," he said. "It was a young Norwich side, but they came here, worked hard and really gave it a go.

"They made if difficult for us at times and we really had to compete with them. It was a great goal that secured us the win, one that was good enough to grace any game.

"Jemel Henry put over a really good cross from the right and Petr did very well to get on the end of it. It was a really instinctive finish."

Since signing for the Hammers during the summer, after impressing during a two-week trial, Petr has struggled with injuries. The Czech Republic Under-21 international was injured at the start of the season, and after recovering to join Northampton Town on loan was then injured again during his spell at Sixfields, restricting him to just three appearances.

"It's been a difficult time for Petr," admitted Kevin. "He impressed during pre-season, but since signing for the Club he's been very unlucky with injuries.

"It was unfortunate that he picked up an injury at Northampton and couldn't play as much football as he would have liked.

"But he's come back here and played well against Norwich. He's still got a lot to learn, but Petr has got that knack of scoring goals in the box, be it with his head or feet, and that is a great attribute for any player.

"The Czech Republic Under-21s have got a big game against Germany next week, I'm sure he'll be involved in that and it's something he'll really want to do well in."

In switching from the trusted 4-4-2 to a back-three system, Kevin explained: "The manager wanted to try a few new things, especially with quite a few of the senior squad playing.

"I think it's fair to say some worked well and some not quite so well, but it was a good opportunity to try out a few new things.

"I thought Carl Fletcher had a superb game, and there were one or two other very good performances.

"It was a solid defensive display and Stephen Bywater rarely had to make a save. They had one or two good opportunities that slid just past the post, and they did hit the bar right at the end, but that aside Stephen wasn't really tested.

"We defended well, but we had three players out there who really know how to defend and it gave the team a solid look."