Westley - It was a real team effort

Terry Westley praised the Dev Squad for overcoming league leaders Derby County
Academy Manager Terry Westley praised his side for the manner in which they overcame top-of-the-table Derby County 3-1 at Rush Green on Monday evening.

Westley’s side started the game the stronger and secured a valuable three points thanks to an Elliot Lee brace and a second goal in as many games for Josh Cullen.

Reflecting on a determined performance, Westley surmised: “It was a good performance and a good result. In terms of getting three points that was the most pleasing result we’ve had all season, because it was a proper match.

Some people will tell you that U21 football isn’t competitive, well that certainly was. I’ve watched a lot of League One football this season, from the firstt to the 95th minute that was a proper competition game. That was up there with anything I’ve seen in League One.”

Prolific striker Lee broke the deadlock after just seven minutes. Reece Oxford, captaining the side, was hauled down at a corner, upstepped Lee to send Kelle Roos the wrong way.

Half an hour later, Cullen doubled the advantage as he ran onto Marcus Browne’s parried shot, following further great work from Lee to get past his man at the byline.

In the second half the hosts rallied as Callum Guy pulled one back, yet Lee was on hand to restore their advantage with delightfully cushioned header from Djair Parfitt-Williams searching cross.

Ivan Calero netted late on to ensure a nervy final few moments yet the Hammers held on to secure their second consecutive win.

Westley continued: “It was a tough game, tackles were coming in thick and fast. You have to accept that as part of the game and stay calm and be resolute and I thought we did that well particularly in the second half. It was a test to see if we were going to see it through or if we were going to cave in and thankfully we stood firm.

“I’ve said it several times, West Brom away, Stoke away and Blackburn away we really should have got something from these games. So tonight was particularly pleasing that we got what we deserved.”

In an all-round impressive display by everyone wearing claret and blue, Westley reserved special mention to his star striker Lee, whose brace saw him double his tally for the season with four goals.
“The third goal was a peach of a goal where he ran, got in a good cross and Elliot did ever so well to get a good header on it. I’m pleased for because he’s on his way back, he’s had a few injuries and that’s as good as I’ve seen him all season.

“It was certainly an all-round team performance, everyone, even the subs had a massive contribution to the tempo of the game. Their centre forward was as good as I’ve seen all season, he’s a young boy but he was a threat down the sides, Chambers and Oxford did well to keep him quite first half and then Manny came on and Kyle Knoyle changed position but they all coped very well.”

After a difficult start, the Hammers now have three wins out of the last four games, scoring nine goals in the process.  

Westley continued: “That’s two on the bounce, three out of the last four which is great for confidence. We’re heading in the right direction but more importantly it’s how we are playing.

“We should have made more passes than we did, but we beat the team top of the league. It’s certainly a good confidence boost.

“We’ve got two tough games coming up, tough because they’re both away. One against Swansea in the league and then straight away in the cup at Exeter. It would be nice to go through a few rounds and make it interesting, it’ll be a good challenge for the 16 players who play both games.”