Phillips happy with winning return

West Ham Under-18s assistant manager Mark Phillips was pleased with the Hammers' Academy after they returned to winning ways by beating West Bromwich Albion 2-1 at Little Heath on Wednesday afternoon.

The result ended a run of four defeats for the Hammers as returning midfielder Ben Marlow and Portuguese striker Marcio Martins both scored second half goals to keep the race for the Barclays U18 Premier League play-offs alive.

With the Hammers dominating throughout the 90 minutes, Phillips was delighted that the Hammers had managed to finally combine an impressive performance with the deserved result that they achieved.

"In amongst the four games we lost, I thought that there were games where we deserved to win, so it's nice to finally turn that around and get a victory," said Phillips. "I think we thoroughly deserved it, although there were moments throughout the game where I thought we wouldn't get there.

"I thought that we played very well, compared to games where we haven't played that well and won. I'm not too sure whether it was through West Brom failings in a way but I thought we moved the ball very well and created a lot of opportunities, but unfortunately we didn't take more of them.

Phillips, along with U18 manager Steve Potts, were again forced into playing a youthful squad at the U18 level, although the assistant manager believes that everyone performed very well.

"I thought that the midfield were brilliant," continued Phillips. "Even when we lost possession in the middle, everyone worked hard to win in back quickly. The defence were tight and the attack had so many chances in the final third, but struggled with the important part of putting the ball in the back of the net, which we will have to work on.

"Last week, we went to Manchester City and we were predominantly a first year U18 team. We even had 15-year-olds on the bench like we did against West Brom. We started this game with three U16s on the pitch, but it can only help them develop as players because they are learning. Next year when they are first year scholars, they would have already had a taste of U18 football so they will know what to expect."

With regular U18 midfielders Moses Makasi and captain Kieran Bywater away in Sunderland with the Development Squad, it was down to Amos Nasha to wear the armband, being joined in the midfield by U16 attacking midfielder Grady Diangana and Marlow, who played his first game back after three months on the injury list.

"I thought Grady [Diangana] had an outstanding game. That is the role he prefers to play because we have been trying to play him in a holding role, but we put him as then point of a midfield three and that's what suits him the best. When he is enjoying his football, you can see the outcome as he creates a lot of opportunities for us."

"We've missed Ben Marlow this season, but having Amos [Nasha] and Moses [Makasi] in the middle this season, who are like minded players, have done a great job to fill in the middle. Ben's been out for a good few months now but I think he has come back really well and it's a little bonus for him getting a goal."

With just two league fixtures ahead of the Hammers Academy before the play-off stage begins, Phillips knows that they can't alter other teams results, so they will focus on trying to achieve the full six points from their games.

"It's out of our hands now how Fulham get on because I don't think we will get above Tottenham but we have got Bolton next and then Arsenal, both games at home, and I think that if we concentrate on winning both of our games, I think we will make the play-offs."

Speaking to after returning from a three month foot injury, midfielder Marlow also believed that the Hammers got the result that they deserved.

"It was fantastic," added Marlow. "It feels good to win 2-1 after four defeats on the bounce. We went to Manchester City and got whacked 3-0 because of our poor performance, but to react like we did is really good.

"The manager said to us that he wanted to see a big reaction from us and I feel like we did that. We won 2-1, but it was a comfortable win and I think we deserved more goals.

The day was even more special for Marlow as he capped a full 90 minutes of league action with a rare but important goal.

"It's been frustrating that I've not played for three months so it's nice to finally be back," he continued. "I had a problem with my metatarsal in my foot and it's one of those niggling injuries, but I'm back now and looking forward to hopefully winning the last two games and staying injury free.

"I don't score many goals but at half time, the manager said that he wanted to see more action in the box so I thought that I've got to get myself in there more. It was a great cut back by Jerry [Amoo] and I had to make sure I got it on target and it went in."