Westley delighted with U18s' impact

Terry Westley highlighted the role the young players had in the 3-1 win over Fulham
Despite making several changes to the line-up that beat Fulham 3-2 at Rush Green last week, a younger West Ham side came away from Motspur Park with an even greater score-line.

Terry Westley’s charges secured a deserved 3-1 victory at the Cottagers’ expense as a Djair Parfitt-Williams brace and a Josh Cullen penalty wrapped up the three points, having gone 1-0 down early in the first half.

The performance, along with the victory, the young Hammers’ eighth in the last nine games, left Westley suitably impressed: “It was a resilient performance tonight, but also a very technical one, we were very good tonight.

“As a team, we’re really trying to control the game with the way we pass it and the way we keep the ball; Reece Oxford, Josh Cullen and George Dobson really played well. They really stood out, they weren’t just good.

“We were playing against a team a lot older than us, then going a goal down we had the mental toughness to see it through and eventually through our good play, we came out worthy winners.”

Recently, Dev Squad regulars such as Elliot Lee, Stephen Hendrie and Kyle Knoyle have all been loaned out to pick up some much needed first team experience.

This left Westley with an impressively young squad to select from, yet they more than held their own.
Westley continued: “We made a lot changes because some players have gone out on loan to get first team experience in the Football League.

“That allowed young players like Vashon Neufville to come in at left-back and I thought he was terrific.

“George (Dobson) was very good in the middle, he’s responded to our expectations because we have pushed him hard.

“What you have to remember is that Sam (Howes) and Reece (Oxford) are still both U18s that was a young team out there tonight. They were happy to take the ball and really make the most of it.”

A further bonus for the Academy on a night of positives was U16 Conor Coventry making his debut for the Development Squad.

The young midfielder made a cameo appearance toward the end and Westley has high hopes for the debutant: “He’s a good footballer; he scans the pitch before he receives it so he knows where it’s going to go before he gets it.

“Alfie Lewis is another that is looking good. Both of them are both good footballers and we are looking forward to having them with us full-time next year.

“I wanted to try and give Conor 20 minutes but the game didn’t quite pan out that way.”

The Dev Squad’s attention will now turn to their cup campaign as they host Blackburn Rovers on Wednesday 27 January in the quarter-final of the U21 Premier League Cup.

Earlier in the season, the Rovers edged a seven goal thriller at Ewood Park, however Westley believes his side has what it takes to progress to the semi-finals: “Every game is hard, Blackburn will want to win. You always need to keep pushing because that’s the only way you’re going to get better.

“Wednesday’s game will be another good test; if we play like we did tonight we’ll give ourselves a good chance.”