Potts proud despite Norwich setback

Steve Potts said his Development Squad did enough to avoid an agonising home defeat by Norwich City
Steve Potts could be forgiven for wondering what he has done to deserve the misfortune that has befallen his Development Squad this season.

On Friday, the Hammers’ second-string looked on course for a morale-boosting Barclays U21 Premier League victory over Norwich City at Rush Green.

Jordan Brown had fired the home side into a deserved lead with a peach of a goal five minutes after half-time, but after missing a host of chances, West Ham were made to pay as the Canaries scored twice within the final six minutes to steal a 2-1 victory.

“We easily should have won the game,” said Potts, with a wry smile. “In the first half, we came in nil-nil and said to them to keep doing what they had been doing.

“We got a very good goal and it was just a case of getting the second. We had some fantastic openings but didn’t quite make the most of those opportunities and we got punished for making two mistakes.

“It’s harsh, but this is the level we are playing at. If you make mistakes, you get punished and that’s what happened. It was a harsh, harsh lesson for the boys to take home.”
If you make mistakes, you get punished and that’s what happened. It was a harsh, harsh lesson for the boys to take home
Brown could have had a hat-trick, hitting the crossbar and seeing two shots saved by Mark Bunn, while Djair Parfitt-Williams also rattled the goalframe and saw his own long-ranger turned aside.

The Hammers forced at least a dozen corners, too, but only had Brown’s 25-yard curler to show for their efforts before full-backs Reece Hall-Johnson and Michee Efete broke the hosts’ hearts late on.

“We are a young team and I said to them I was more than happy with what I saw out there and that I would rather have our group of players than Norwich’s on that performance,” Potts continued. “But result-wise, you’ve got to finish games off and that’s what we failed to do.

“We made a mistake for the first one, then made another one a minute or two later rather than keeping it tight after going 1-1. We certainly shouldn’t throw the game away, but we managed to do that.”
On a pair of more positive notes, Potts’ son Dan made his return after nearly three months out with a knee injury, while Brown caught the eye with his strength, running and ability to work the goalkeeper.

“Dan has trained solid for ten days and had a good run out,” the coach said. “He’s been unlucky – he broke a bone in his foot earlier in the season and was out for six or eight weeks, then had to nurse a problem with his knee which eventually needed surgery. Hopefully that’s all OK now and he looked OK out there.

“I was very pleased with Jordan. We mentioned it to him in midweek and he did exactly what we wanted, like most of the players did.”

Finally, Potts said the Club was still mourning the passing of Dylan Tombides, a year on from losing the young striker to cancer.

As the father of a son in Dan – one of Dylan’s closest friends – who recovered from a life-threatening bout of Leukaemia as a schoolboy, Potts knows first-hand just what an effect the disease can have on families.

With that in mind, he backed the work being done by the DT38 Foundation – the testicular cancer awareness charity founded by the Tombides family in Dylan’s memory.

“It was a hard one for Dylan’s family to take and for the Club to take, and especially the young lads around him,” he recalled. “My Dan was good friends with Dylan, like everyone else was in his age-group because they were close.

“As a person, Dylan was a top boy and as a player who knows what he could have achieved because he was a real talent.

“It’s fantastic cause to raise awareness and money, because to finally find a cure would be fantastic. I know the survival rates are improving but to get it even higher would be fantastic.”