Macca planning to pick up pace

West Ham United assistant manager Neil McDonald drew on the positives after a trip to the Kassam Stadium ended in a 1-0 defeat by Oxford United on Tuesday night.

After a 3-0 win over Southend United on Saturday, the Hammers were hoping to continue their winning streak, but despite their dominance they were unable to convert any of their chances.

The only goal of the match came in the 36th minute, when George McCartney's clearing header was met by Deane Smalley, who fired home superbly into the top corner of the net. The strike is sure to live long in the memory of the Oxford No10 and was worthy of winning any game. 

Speaking to West Ham TV after the game, Macca said he was pleased with the side's effort although he admits they just lacked a killer instinct in front of goal.

"It was a hard-fought game and Oxford played a really good tempo," he said. "It was a good test and they scored a great goal in the top corner. We made a few changes and for the young lads to come on and press and make a couple of chances was great.

"We're happy everyone got through 60 minutes, which we thought they would, and it's another step forward to making sure we're ready for our opening game against Aston Villa.

"We're just trying to get the players though and get them up 70 or 80 minutes next. Oxford provided a stern test and they were on their game and caused us a few problems that we thought they would. We'll be working hard to iron out those problems to make sure we're right physically and mentally for the first game."

Rob Hall, who enjoyed two successful loan spells at Oxford last season, also featured for the Hammers as a second-half substitute and came close to grabbing an equaliser when he hit the outside of the post.

"Rob looked very sharp indeed. He's been away with England Under-19s and has had a couple of cameo appearances for us. We know we've still got a bit to do individually as well as a team and we'll be doing that on the training pitch over the next few weeks."

Stephen Henderson made a welcome return from a thigh strain between the posts. Macca was happy to see the Ireland stopper back in action as the competition with Jussi Jaaskelainen for the No1 jersey hots up.

"He looked very sharp and was only beaten by a fantastic shot. He's not had too much to do but he's been very comfortable. He's a good kicker of the ball so it was an impressive 90 minutes from him."

The second-half changes handed a host of Academy products another chance of pre-season first-team football. The likes of George Moncur, Blair Turgott and Eoin Wearen all looked at home in the Hammers new away kit and Macca explained how the experience will do them well in the long-term.

"It's great they got some game time. They complemented the team and we tried to stick them in with some older pros as well so they didn't get overrun. A couple of them have played in some games and it's a great experience for them."

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