Westley - We lacked that cutting edge

Terry Westley was disappointed with the Dev Squad's 2-0 defeat
Academy manager Terry Westley described his disappointment as the young Hammers lost 2-0 at the hands of Fulham under the lights at the Boleyn on Monday evening.

Despite enjoying the majority of possession as well as chances, the Dev Squad came undone as Jordan Evans rifled home a long-range free-kick before Dean O’Halloran doubled the Cottagers’ lead in the second half.

Reflecting on the game, Westley surmised: “That’s probably the most disappointing I’ve been with all of our game. We’ve had 12 corners, dominated possession and I dread to think how many passes we made, it must have been well over 500.

“We were in their third of the pitch on numerous occasions, but we never really opened them up. Only when Lewis Page got round the back and played Grady in and you’re thinking – we should’ve scored that. When we don’t score when we’re on top, we look fragile on the counter attack.

“After we went 1-0 down, you can see the doubts creep in and the belief levels drop. That summed up the game really.”

In front of a bumper crowd of just under 2500 fans, the young Hammers could not quite turn possession into meaningful chances, and when they did, Fulham goalkeeper Marek Rodak was on hand to save his side.  

Martin Samuelsen, Djair Parfitt-Williams and Marcus Browne all showed flashes of promise, yet the struggled to penetrate the west London sides’ back four.

Westley continued: “They had a game plan, got people behind the ball. For them it’s a good result and a good performance. That’s what they looked for and that’s what they got for. They scored twice from three or so shots. We didn’t have too many shots ourselves but we were in and around their box a lot.

“We lacked a main forward out there tonight, you look at the number of options we have in the first team. We don’t quite have that edge.”

 While Joey O’Brien made a welcome return to action following his return from injury, Westley named a young side with the likes of U18 squad members Olatunji Akinola and George Dobson starting.

Despite the defeat, Westley is confident his charges will learn from the experience: “Hopefully our young players learned a few lessons today. If you’re going to hit a long ball it needs to have pace on it otherwise it’ll get cut out.

“The clue is in the name, Development Squad. They’re still developing. But we need to do that quicker. The demands on this team are getting bigger and bigger. If they want to make the first team they have to do a little better than we did tonight.”

Up next for the U21s is an away trip to Brighton & Hove Albion who prop up the Barclays U21 Premier League Division Two.  

“We have to pick ourselves up quickly as we have another game, next Monday. We’ll come in and assess what happened, we’ll look at the game.

“Everyone has worked hard to get a big crowd in tonight and I don’t think we gave the fans enough, we didn’t quite reward them with the victory we wanted.”