Carr looking for a finish

West Ham United Under-18s may have lost 2-0 at Portsmouth on Saturday but manager Tony Carr said there were many positives to take from the game.

The hosts took the lead in the 65th minute through penalty after Matty Fry was adjudged to have felled Tom Kilbey in the area. United thought they had equalised a short while later but Balint Bajner's strike was ruled out for offside. Portsmouth put the game out of reach with a second five minutes from time.

Despite the loss, Carr was pleased with his side's efforts, particularly in the opening 45 minutes. He said: "We played very well in the first half, and arguably could have been 2-0 up at half-time. There was a great chance from Balint Bajner who saw his close-range effort saved by the goalkeeper and Ahmed Abdulla again, from quite close range, lofted the ball over the bar when if he had hit the target he would have scored.

"It seems that is how it is going for us at the moment - up front we are creating lots but not finishing our chances and then getting punished at the other end. We did the same against Birmingham and Arsenal in the other recent games."

Carr is convinced they will start to get the rub of the green soon. "We just need something to go our way, to set us on our way, a goal that goes in off the back of someone's heel or whatever, just a bit of luck to turn the corner and I am sure we can improve our performances and results as the weeks go on," he said.

"We are not pulling it together for the full 90 minutes at the moment, but we go into the next two games, against Crystal Palace and Chelsea, hoping that we can report that we have improved and got another few points on the board," he added.

Several of Carr's original Under-18 squad have made the step up to the senior level this season. The likes of Freddie Sears, Junior Stanislas, Jordan Spence and Marek Stech have progressed to be in and around the first-team but the academy director is still more than happy with the players he has at his disposal. He believed some small changes would make a big difference. "It is nothing to do with fitness just things like people having an extra touch on the ball, when all it needs is one or two touches, not three.

"In other games, if we had scored from the chances we had been creating, we would probably be sitting more to the top of the table. As it is, we are not at the moment, but as I have said many times, parts of the performance in these games have been very good, but then other parts in the second half haven't been. We have conceded from set-plays and perhaps lost a bit of concentration and have a little lack of confidence.

"After what has been a promising start, we are seeing the other side of the game. After a defeat everyone is a little bit low and it is my job to lift the spirits and disappointment.

"There is a lot we can improve on the training pitch and other things like confidence will come when we get a goal in front again and get a win under our belts. We are going back to the real basics, setting our stall out to make sure we are organised, are concentrating, never turn our back on the ball, always have our eye on what is going on and we keep the performance going and the chances going for the whole 90 minutes."

Carr concluded: "The last victory we had - against Aston Villa, was a terrific performance from everyone who played that day, so I know what the players can do and so do they. Freddie took a lot of credit that day, but the other ten players played a huge part in that performance.

West Ham United: Street, O'Neill, Brown, 'Gala, Fry, Grasser (Kearns 70), Barrett (McNaughton 73), Lee, Abdulla (Montano 66), Edgar, Bajner.
Subs not used: Loveday, Okus