Westley - Plenty of positives to take away

Terry Westley was delighted with the team performance in the 2-1 win over Brighton & HA U21
Following the Development Squad’s 2-1 win away at Brighton & Hove Albion on Monday night, Academy director Terry Westley reflected on a good well done.

From start to finish, the young Hammers gave their all and they were rewarded, in what was one of their best performances in recent memory, with all three points.

Speaking after the game, Westley spoke of his pride at such a commanding display: “I’m pleased with the way we played, take away the win, whatever the result tonight, it’s about how you play, how you go about the job of preparing them for senior football. Tonight, we did all of that, and we won the game, so that’s an added bonus.

“First half we were terrific, we were better than good. We passed the ball very well and dominated possession.”

On a night where there were plenty of positives for everyone connected to Claret and Blue, Westley praised the number of youngsters who were given an opportunity.

Schoolboy Idris Kanu, still just 15, caught the eye on his U21 debut, while Declan Rice, 16, demonstrated his capability during his first U21 start.  

Westley continued: “If something really sums up what we are all about it is this: the centre-forward is 15, the centre-half is 16. They (Brighton) were an older, quite an established team tonight. It was about playing youth team players.

“George Dobson, Marcus Browne and the goalkeeper Sam Howes are all still youth team players. Idris is still at school, he’s had to take the day off to play tonight. That really is everything about what we are trying to produce at the moment.”

While the younger boys certainly proved they are ready to take the opportunities to step up, Westley was keen to stress how well the team played as a collective unit.

Livewire winger Martin Samuelsen netted his fourth goal in eight U21 appearances this season, while skipper Josh Cullen capped off a talismanic performance with a neatly taken finish.   

“We try to dominate the ball and try and open the opposition up. Samuelsen, particularly first half, was running past players and opening the game up, making opportunities and hitting shots earlier which is what we’ve been working on. It’s great to see that he has taken that on board.

“Stephen Hendrie, playing out of position, got on with it without a fuss and did very well, he deserves credit for that. Josh in midfield, we know what he can do and he showed it today, he really led the team. Added to that, Browne and Dobson really gave us a base to play from.”

On a night of positives, Westley was also pleased with how determined and structured his side were.

While the Seagulls piled on the pressure in the second period, the Hammers, to a man stood firm.
Having lost plenty of points from leading positions, there was a sense of Déjà vu once Brighton pulled one back, yet they refused to be cowed.  

“We really pressed as a team, and it was something we spoke about at half-time because we knew Brighton weren’t going to just sit back, 2-0 down at home at half-time, you have to go for it.

“When they scored, it was a nervy ten minutes. It was when of those moments, I looked at Liam (Manning) and we thought, ‘here we go again’ but this time we saw the game through. Collectively we worked ever so hard and it’s nice we got the reward for that.

“We can take a massive amount of positives to take from tonight’s game; the culture we are trying to establish and the philosophy here, it’s about being brave enough to play the younger ones in the team as well as playing in the right manner, the final bit is to get the result so we ticked a lot of boxes tonight.”