Potts praises U18s

Steve Potts praised his young side for coming from behind after West Ham United's 1-1 Barclays U18 Premier League Tier One Stage draw with Stoke City.

The visitors took an early lead when Kieran Monlouis popped up in the box to stab the ball into the net from Kris Scott's sliced effort. However, a change of tactics and increased attacking mentality after half time at Little Heath led to a late West Ham equaliser from Nathan Mavila.

Just a week after a disappointing 3-0 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur, U18s manager Potts was pleased with his players' efforts against the Potters.

"The boys gave everything," said Potts. "It was unfortunate to draw because I think we had a good start to the game. We were unfortunate to go 1-0 down from the point of view that we had most of the play to start with. Then the rest of the first half was fairly even, I'd say. If you look at it, they had one shot and scored one goal.

"In the second half, I feel we totally dominated and it was a case of whether we could get the goal or not. We did and with ten minutes to go you start to think that we could push on and get the winner, but it wasn't to be.

"A few of the younger lads came in against Tottenham when some of the scholars gave way for them. I put them back in and I think they responded well. I had a trialist in there too. I think all-round we performed well. We drew the game and to be honest, I'm pretty disappointed to draw on the balance of play. I thought we dominated a lot of the game but we just couldn't dig the result out."

Potts could see the errors that his defence made in the run up to Stoke's goal, knowing that his team had several opportunities to prevent a goal that was scored against the run of play.

"We just switched off for a few moments really," he continued. "One of their players picked up the ball in a little bit of space and moved it out wide, where we could have made it harder for the cross to come in. Then it got deflected and finished off in the six-yard box and you are left thinking that there should have been a challenge put in there.

"I think there were three or four little instances where we could have prevented the goal."

West Ham went in behind at half-time, but Potts motivated his team and urged them to play with more passion and belief. He also decided to make two substitutions and reshaped his side into a more attacking formation.

"We just needed to move the ball with more purpose and more belief. If we had done that earlier, we would have got our rewards. We did move the ball around better and started to push on in the second half so Stoke couldn't get out of their half at all. Most of the play in the second half was in their half, which shows we pushed on really well. Without a doubt we deserved our goal near the end."

Saturday's result will give Potts a clearer mind-set of his team's potential this season, compared to last week's defeat at Spurs Training Centre, where the Hammers boss believes they let themselves down for the first time.

"I hope the next victory is coming. The only league performance in which I think the team let themselves down in was Tottenham away. For over half of the game at Tottenham, the lads totally let themselves down.

"The rest of the league performances so far this season, I can't fault them at all. I don't think that the points we have so far this season show what they actually deserve. With performances, though, you have to see the bigger picture, because I think they have done well. Results haven't been the best but the performances I can't fault, both individually and as a team. It was just the Tottenham away game where they didn't perform like they could.

"We will just keep training the same and if they keep up the hard work and putting in the performances then I am sure we will get a deserved victory soon."

Next up for the Under-18s is a trip to face Liverpool on Saturday 16 March, with kick-off at 11am.

West Ham United U18s: Baxter, Homans, Burke, Onariase, Page (Girdlestone), Makasi, Miles (Marlow), Freeman (Gogo), Mavila, Sadlier, Boakye-Yiadom
Subs not used: Brown, T.Tombides