Joe Powell admitted the whole squad are gutted after West Ham United’s U21s were eliminated by Luton Town in the Checkatrade Trophy round of 32.
The Hatters bagged a convincing 4-0 win at Kenilworth Road thanks to goals from Lawson D’Ath, Aaron Jarvis, Kavan Cotter and Jordan Cook to put an end to the Hammers’ campaign in the competition.
It was, however, a great achievement to reach the knockout stages of the tournament; the east Londoners were one of only four academy sides to advance from the group stages from the 16 who entered at the start of the season.
Powell, who played the full 90 minutes at left-back on Tuesday, said the team is proud of their accomplishments in the Checkatrade Trophy this season but are hurting after the harsh defeat.
“We believed we could win going into the game,” he said. “We had chances at 0-0, we had corners and then even at 1-0 we were still in the game. Our heads dropped a bit but we carried on.
“At 2-0, the heads dropped again but I think we gave a bit more to prove we wanted to stay in the game get something out of it, but it wasn’t to be.
“We are proud of where we got to, but we’re still not happy with the way the game went and it’s something we can look back and learn from it. But 100 per cent, we’re proud.”
We believed we could win going into the game. We are proud of where we got to, but we’re still not happy with the way the game went
The second goal in particular came from a long ball down the middle of the pitch and Powell declared it is a style of play the Hammers must learn to deal with if they are to learn from the experience of playing in the competition this season.
“Playing long ball, that’s something we’re new to and we need to work on that,” he continued. “Playing U23 teams, everyone wants to get the ball down, that’s the philosophy everyone is taught as a kid – pass the ball out from the back.
“Playing Football League teams therefore is hard, but it’s something you need to be able to do playing at any level. You go to the Premier League, you see it there too.
“We need to adapt to that and try and get better at that because it gave us problems tonight.”
The Luton clash marked Terry Westley’s side fifth defeat in a row – and fourth to nil – and the youngsters will be looking to get back on track when London rivals Tottenham Hotspur visit Dagenham and Redbridge’s Chigwell Construction Stadium on Monday.
Tickets are priced at £5 and £3 for adults and concessions respsectively, and supporters can pay on the door or show their Season Ticket Holder card to enter for free for the 7pm kick-off.