Hammers ousted by Leicester

A slow start by the West Ham United Development Squad proved costly as the Hammers slipped to a 3-1 defeat away at Leicester City. 

In their final game of the 2014/15 season, the Dev Squad were a goal down within three minutes when Joe Dodoo slotted home capitalising on slack passing at the back. 

The Foxes early lead was then extended by long range efforts from Jack Barmby and Jak McCourt inside the first half an hour. 

Reflecting on a disappointing performance, in stark contrast to Friday’s performance of the season against Chelsea, U21s coach Steve Potts said: “The slow start definitely cost us. We gave the lads the warning signs. On Friday we played very well against Chelsea and we mentioned that today was a different game.  

“But we started slowly and didn’t deal with the early pressure, before we knew it we were 2-0 down and a mountain to climb. 

“On the same token, we’ve scored once and had five other good opportunities to score. In a way that makes it even worse because we haven’t played well today, we should have been more solid at the back and mixed it up more up front.”

In a much improved second half display, the Hammers had a number of chances to reduce the deficit yet they found Foxes’ goalkeeper Adam Smith in inspired form. 

Smith saved two close range efforts from Captain Josh Cullen before palming Elliot Lee’s drive out for a corner. 

The Hammers did eventually score when Jaanai Gordon was on hand to slot Lee’s saved penalty spot into the far corner. 

Despite Monday’s game being the Dev Squad’s second in just four days, Potts refused to blame tiredness for the defeat.  

“I think the result was more down to us being poor than them being that much better than us. 

“Tiredness was a factor, but the players have to learn how to handle playing two games in quick succession. 

“The first twenty minutes was where we lost the game and we weren’t tired then. We invited pressure and they put the ball in the back of the net.

“The second half was a consolation but it almost makes it worse. We were the better side, won it 1-0 and we had more chances to score. It is a complement to us that we were the better side in the first half but it feels like we’ve thrown the game away through our performance in the first half.”

The Dev Squad have now completed their 2014/15 season, which despite a number of positives culminated in their relegation from the Barclays U21 Premier League. 

Summarising on the season as a whole, Potts concluded: “The highlight of the season was the win over Chelsea last Friday. We were tight, didn’t give anything else away and that’s the level they can play and that’s the level we want to achieve every week. There were some careless mistakes and naivety which has cost us too many times throughout the season.”