Phillips - We showed character

Under-18s coach Mark Phillips says his side showed great spirit in their 2-2 draw with Chelsea
West Ham United Under-18 coach Mark Phillips praised the attitude of his players after the Hammers came from two goals behind to earn a 2-2 draw at Chelsea on Saturday.
The hosts took a two-goal lead through Ike Ugbo and Jacob Maddox before Danny Kemp’s penalty and Jahmal Hector-Ingram’s strike ten minutes from time secured a Barclays U18 Premier League Group One Play-Off point for the visitors in Cobham.
And Phillips was full of praise for the way his side battled back to earn the result.
He said: “The boys showed unbelievable character. It didn’t really matter that Chelsea had a game on Friday night because whatever team they put out, you know it’s going to be a good one. They have so much quality at Under-16, 17 and 18 level.
“It was great character and resilience from the boys to get back into the game, rather then quality play if I’m totally honest.
“I think their second goal was against the run of play because we made a tactical change at half time and changed the formation where we could get Matty Carter on the ball more often and it seemed to help us get a foothold in the game.
“Both their goals were brilliant, especially the second one and when you’re 2-0 down, you’re left thinking that you’re dead and buried.
“But we got one back quickly from Dan Kemp’s penalty after Matty Carter was dragged down in the box and then Jahmal popped up shortly after with the equaliser.
“After that, I think anyone could have won the game, which was quite similar to what we heard about the first team game where it was end-to-end late-on.”
Saturday’s goal for winger Kemp – against the side he left earlier this season – means that the 17-year-old now has six goals in his last seven appearances for the Hammers and Phillips admitted it probably meant a lot for the youngster.
“I think that goal was extra special for Danny today. Scoring away at your former club when you’ve put real shift in is very pleasing.
“It must’ve been a fantastic penalty as the keeper went the right way and he still beat him in the corner.
“He has a great record with penalties and he worked really well off the ball too so I was very pleased with Danny Kemp.”
As for Hector-Ingram, Phillips was delighted with the England youth international’s performance and goal.
“Jahmal has really added that extra work rate to his game recently and it seems like he has realised that as a striker, you may have to make five or six decent runs before you get the ball.
“When you’re an Under-10, you could probably make one run and get the ball every time, but at the older age groups when the defenders get better, you need to be constantly threatening the defence.”
Next up for the Hammers is a trip to Manchester City on Saturday 9 April, and Phillips thinks his side will have to perform even better to pick up a result.
“I don’t think you can get a much harder run in Academy football than Chelsea and Manchester City both away.
“Apparently the facilities and the new Academy stadium they have up there are meant to be amazing so we’ll go up there, enjoy the game and hopefully get a result.
“I think we can play much better against Manchester City than we did at Chelsea because I can’t fault the effort from the boys, but we are definitely capable of a much better performance technically.”
Sunday also brings a different challenge for Phillips, as he takes part in the Brentwood Half-Marathon for two charities, one of which holds a place in most West Ham hearts.
“At the moment, I have a really bad cold which is a pain because I’ve been training really hard for the past six months or so but I’ll be out there getting myself round the course.
“I believe there are 4,000 people taking part in the run this year so I’m looking forward to it.
“I’m running for two charities – DT38 which is a charity extremely close to my heart, as I knew Dylan very well having coached him for years at the club, and the local autistic home in West Horndon where my son lives as he is autistic. They are two amazing charities that deserve the support.”
U18: Howes, Neufville, Borg (Hammam), Rice, Akinola, Sylvestre (c), Scully (Kanu), Diangana, Kemp, Ford (Carter), Hector-Ingram. Subs not used: Matrevics.