Potts praises strong defence

West Ham United U18s manager Steve Potts was pleased with his side after a goalless draw with Arsenal on Saturday morning extended their unbeaten start to eight games.

Midfielder Marcus Browne had the best chance on goal for the Hammers when he latched onto a blocked shot from Jordan Brown to fire towards the corner, but it was unfortunately kept out of the net by a sliding block from an Arsenal defender.

The Gunners could have taken all three points themselves on several occasions in the second half, but striker Stephy Mavididi failed to convert from three presentable chances.

Potts admitted that Arsenal were always going to be a tough team to beat, but revealed that he was pleased with the way his side defended against a strong Gunners forward line.

"It was a real good test for us, that's for sure," admitted Potts. "They're a good team who do not let you play at all because they come out and make it difficult for their opponents every week. I thought we came out in the first half fairly slowly and Arsenal started controlling the game.

"As we started to come back into it and work harder though, I thought we were the much better side in the first half. In terms of chances, they didn't have any chances of note in the first half like we did and unfortunately they didn't work out for us.

"In the second half, Arsenal has a really good spell for around 20 minutes in the middle of the half when they had quite a lot of the ball and came forward at us, but we defended it really well. They had one or two chances that we managed to keep out but we still pushed forward and were having chances ourselves too.

"Overall, I'm pleased with the result and the performance from the team."

When speaking to whufc.com in the week leading up to this fixture, Potts admitted that his side could be faulted for conceding too many goals this season, despite their unbeaten record.

After keeping a clean sheet against Arsenal, Potts feels positive about his team's ability to pick up more results going forward when their defensive performance is strong.

"Arsenal have good some fantastic forwards in their team so it was a real good test for us," he continued. "It wasn't easy for the boys to keep them out and while your defence is keeping the opposition out, you've always got a good chance of getting a result out of the game.

"It just didn't go our way in front of goal in this match. We had our chances but it seemed like it wasn't going to be our day, unfortunately."

The result means that Potts' side have now recorded four wins and four draws from their opening eight Barclays U18 Premier League Southern Division fixtures.

The former West Ham defender believes his team have earned the results and are still looking to get even better going forward this season.

"We've earned this good run down because of the way the boys have gone about things in training and during games. I can't fault them for that.

"We are obviously always looking to make ourselves better and, like I said to the boys after the game, they needed to recognise where they had a good spell in the second half and make sure that we are tough to break down and use of the ball better ourselves.

"We've got a mixture of 16, 17 and 18-year-olds in our team this season so that in itself could make this season tougher for us. The new lads have come in and performed really well and it's been a tough test for everyone so far but they are getting the results they deserve.

"I don't think there are any easy fixtures at Under-18 level, so you've got to make sure that you're on your game each week and hopefully we will be against Fulham on Saturday.

"I'm hoping for another positive result at Fulham, but we will focus hard in training during the week like we always do and give them something to focus on that will make our performance better. If they can perform on the day both individually and collectively, then we can be positive of a good result."

West Ham stay second in the Barclays U18 Premier League Southern Division after their draw with Arsenal. Potts' side will look to extend their unbeaten run to nine games at Fulham on Saturday 18 October, with kick-off at Motspur Park at 11am.

U18s: Howes, Pike, Pask, Onariase, Neufville, Browne, Sylvestre, Diangana (Bailey), Borg (Carter), Brown, Parfitt-Williams
Subs not used: Parsons, Akinola, Sheriff