Phillips - We need to be more clinical

U18s coach Mark Phillips was left gutted after West Ham United were knocked out of the FA Youth Cup at Derby County.

After leaving the competition at the first hurdle in the past two seasons at Accrington Stanley and Southampton, Phillips was disappointed to see the Hammers denied again, losing 3-1 after extra-time at the iPro Stadium.

Two own-goals did not help West Ham’s cause, as Phillips claimed the visitors were hard done by in seeing their hopes of lifting the trophy dashed so early for a third straight year.

“I’m very disappointed as obviously as that’s the third year in a row that we’ve been knocked out in the third round,” he admitted. “I thought that we were the better team in the first half by a mile and although we were 1-0 down, we were creating numerous chances.

“I thought in the second half, they took over if I’m honest. They came out and played their style which was a more direct style, so we couldn’t impart our style onto them and we started playing the game in their style and they were better at it than us.

“We weathered that storm and got to the end of the game, when we had numerous good chances at 1-1 to win but it was an own goal unfortunately from Declan Rice, who I thought was outstanding. He was absolutely distraught, the poor lad.

“Then they scored a worldy of a free-kick at the end which was given for a handball. It’s one of those things – that’s football.”

One area that Phillips was concerned about after Friday night’s FA Youth Cup defeat was the lack of chances converted by his team.

“It wasn’t the right result,” he claimed. “If you look at our performances this year though, we haven’t scored enough goals. 

“In games that we’ve won, we have won 2-1, 1-0 and things like that. We created six or seven really good goal scoring opportunities which is good from a team point of view, but in a cup competition, you’ve got to put the ball in the back of the net because that’s what counts.”

Looking closer at the way his team approached the game, Phillips believes that West Ham’s youngsters will learn that they have to take their chances if they are to progress in knockout competitions.

“In the first half, we were excellent,” he added. “Our shape, the way we were playing and creating chances, but we just didn't put the ball away. 

“We were never in front in the game and I think that if we’d have gone in front, they would’ve had to change their style and we’d have played through the gaps and holes that they left. 

“It’s a big competition where they get to play in the stadium which is all practice for what all the boys are here for and that’s to get into the first team. 

“Unfortunately at the moment, we are falling short at the first hurdle and I don’t know why that is. 

“We are a decent side and the only team that has beaten Chelsea so far this season. Chelsea have beaten every other team apart from us so we are a decent side but we have to bring it to fruition when we are playing in the Youth Cup.”

Phillips revealed that the dressing room atmosphere was extremely low after the game as a number of players tasted defeat again on their final appearance in the Youth Cup.

The scholars will now break for the festive season, and Phillips says they will be raring to go when the Barclays U18 Premier League campaign recommences at Reading on 9 January.

“There are boys in there that are in tears and they will be upset but it’s quite right because some of them are second years so they’ve not no more chances to play in the Youth Cup.

“In saying that though, no one has died and there hasn’t been a disaster, we’ve just lost a football match and although it is disappointing, we will pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and go again in January.”