Westley - We needed the challenge

West Ham United Academy Manager and Head of Coaching & Player Development Terry Westley says Tuesday night's friendly at Colchester United provided his youngsters with a useful learning experience.

A youthful West Ham side were defeated 1-0 by their Sky Bet League One hosts, who took the honours thanks to a fine free kick from Academy graduate George Moncur.

Westley was happy with the application of his team and says they will benefit greatly from those kind of experiences.

"I felt the team coped well with the test," he said. "It was a great friendly for us. and one which our Under-21 players need.

"They need these types of challenges. We need to be playing against league sides because that's where we need them to play.

"We need them to play at this level, go out on loan, get some league games under their belt and then come back and be ready for our Premier League team.

"One or two have come out and shown they can handle that, one or two have realised you have to move the ball a bit quicker and not get into physical contests with them because they are stronger that you at your age, but all round it was a really good night's work for us."

For Westley, this game was another step along the road of what he describes as an ideal pre-season, given the Under-21s' involvement in the early stages of the UEFA Europa League.
"It's been the perfect pre-season for us," he continued. "The cohesion with the first team, working with the senior players and being involved in the Europa League first qualifying round was good for our young players to get that recognition.

"It was a chance for them to show the manager what they can do and I'm sure if we had won really well against Birkirkara some of our players would have gone there and the first team would have taken this fixtaure, but either way it has been a good week for us and a good game to play in.

"It was 1-0 against a League One side and as the game grew and as we grew into it, we had more opportunity. We started to get hold of the ball and I think possession-wise it would have been close in the second half.

"In the first half we were caught in the headlights a little bit. We were too slow, didn't move it quick enough, lost physical contests and they got on top of us. In the end giving away the free kick resulted in the goal.

"They've got a lot of league games under their belts where our players haven't, and again Reece Oxford stands out. At 16, being able to cope with what he played against and then come out on top shows he's a special talent.

"Josh Pask beside him, although he got leggy, stayed with the game. Amos Nasha in midfield, Josh Cullen in midfield, Page and Westley at the back, they stayed in the match. We didn't capitulate, and in the end might have got something out of it.

"The support was excellent. The support in the Europa League was excellent with 35,000 and then you come here with another 2,000 of your own supporters appreciating the effort the young players put in, it's terrific for everyone."

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