Darren's delight at clean sheet on debut

New goalkeeper Darren Randolph enjoyed his Hammers debut
Darren Randolph had a huge smile on his face following a victorious debut in front of a packed Boleyn Ground crowd on Thursday night.

The goalkeeper who arrived at West Ham United at the start of the summer, was delighted to have a clean sheet on his first full game for the Hammers in the Europa League first round qualifier against FC Lusitans.

Randolph had a quiet night as the Hammers won convincingly 3-0 against their Andorran counterparts but was thrilled to play in front of a sell-out crowd who had earlier given a rousing welcome to new manager Slaven Bilic.

Although Randolph acknowledged he didn’t have that much to do on the night, he was never the less happy to have played a part and got a taste of action in the game, which saw a brace by Diafra Sakho and a header from James Tomkins seal the victory.

“It was quieter for me in front of goal but it was a clean sheet in a European qualifying game and that is a main thing on a debut, in any match you play so I was very pleased at that.

“The atmosphere was great. It could have been more of a nerve-racking debut because of being in front of a full house but it was a good night to make a debut and I will take that all day long!”

With the Hammers only just returned to pre-season, earlier than normal in order to prepare for the Europa League matches, the players have had a relatively short space of time to train and with hitting the ground running against opposition that is not over familiar to them. But Randolph said everyone is in good shape.

“We are feeling good, but we have only had nine days or so training, so not too much building up to this game. There is only so much fitness work you can do in nine days but playing in such a competitive game so early can get the sharpness you want pretty quickly. I don’t think you can be too critical after only a few days training and going straight into a competitive match.

“I have played in these early rounds before, with Motherwell. You don’t really know the opposition, you might get a few clips on them so it is a case of preparing as best you can. We had some other good chances, but this is not just any pre-season friendly, we created chances in a competitive game and that is a good thing.” 

With that in mind and with the opposition perhaps not being as familiar to them as would normally, Randolph said the 3-0 win reflected a solid start and was a great experience for the younger members of the squad who he said, stepped up their responsibilities very well.

“It is a great experience for these lads, playing at home, in front of sold-out stadium and European competition. It gives everyone a taste of what to expect week in week out and gives the young lads something to chase, something to work towards.

“I was very impressed with all who made their debuts, played the game. Reece [Oxford] has been very impressive all week in training. He doesn’t look like a 16 year-old, he’s bigger than me!

He is very strong and was not fazed by anything. If he keeps his head down and keeps working, there is no reason why he can’t go on to have a big future. Lewis [Page], Josh [Cullen], there’s some good young lads here and that is good for the club.”

Randolph is settling in well at the Hammers and says while it could be a long season ahead, it is all positive. He is also looking forward to working alongside fellow keeper Adrian.

“I would like to think I can push him [Adrian]. Even if I don’t get to start as long as I am keeping him on his toes, which I think he would expect me to do. If he is playing well and the team are doing well, I will be happy. 

“It could be a long season but hopefully a good one and we’re all looking forward to it.”