Terry Westley praises U23s after narrow defeat at Barnet



Academy boss Terry Westley was pleased with his team’s performance after they were narrowly beaten 2-1 by an experienced Barnet side at The Hive Stadium.

In an end-to-end first half, Barnet took the lead just before half-time when Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro finished well past Latvian stopper Rihards Matrevics.

John Akinde made it two on the hour mark before first-year scholar Reece Hannam finished a terrific move to earn the young Hammers a respectable scoreline in north London.

“It was our first game back whereas it was Barnet’s third game so you’d expect them to be a bit sharper but overall I was pleased, particularly with how we started,” said Westley.

“We popped the ball around very well. Vashon [Neufville] was back to his best, Dan Kemp had a huge impact on the game and Reece Hannam got the goal. Tunji Akinola also impressed me, so it was a good game to get under our belts.”

Westley was without a number of individuals for various reasons and it was, therefore, a chance for junior players to impress as well as trialists Oriol Rey and Julian Kristofferson, the latter starting alongside Jaanai Gordon up front.

Playmaker Joe Powell created the game’s first chance, stinging the palms of Jamie Stephens from long range, before Grady Diangana had a close-range effort deflected over.

You play at a higher standard and therefore our standard has to go up. Today, we raised our game against a good side and I’m very satisfied.

Terry Westley

The hosts came into the match as the half wore on but winger Fumnaya Shomotun twice failed to capitalise on good build-up play when he only had Matrevics to beat.

Trialist Kristofferson went close for West Ham but it was the hosts who took the lead just before half-time. The experienced Akinde showed strength to turn before feeding Akpa-Akpro who dinked the ball over Matrevics.

The Bees almost added to their advantage immediately after the interval when substitute Wesley Fonguck’s arrowed strike was tipped wide by Matrevics at full stretch.

Nevertheless, the hosts doubled their lead on the hour mark when Shomotun slid the ball into the path of Akinde who powered home.

Westley made a host of changes in the second half and the fresh legs made the difference. Kemp helped England U20s win the Toulon Tournament last month and showed great composure to play in left back Hannam, who finished well past Barnet sub goalkeeper Craig Ross.

Both sides had chances to add to the scoreline in the final 20 minutes but Westley was left pleased with the testing afternoon provided to his youngsters by the League Two outfit.

“Winning our league last year and going up against bigger clubs means that the expectations goes up for our players,” Westley continued.

“You play at a higher standard and therefore our standard has to go up. Today, we raised our game against a good side and I’m very satisfied.”

Barnet: Stephens (Ross, 60), Johnson (Brindley, 60), Clough (Tutonda, 60), Almeida Santos (S. Akinola, 60), Weston (Kyei, 60), Akinde (Nicholls, 60), Campbell-Ryce (c) (Sweeney, 60), J. Taylor (Fonguck, 19), H. Taylor (Smith, 60), Shomotun (Amaluzor, 60), Akpa-Akpro (Payne, 60).

Goals: Akpa-Akpro, Akinde.

West Ham U23s: Matrevics, Pike (c) (Ngakia, 67), T. Akinola, Alese (Wells, 60), Neufville (Hannam, 60); Coventry (Rey, 46), Kemp, Powell (Scully, 46), Diangana (Belic, 60); Kristofferson (Henry, 67), Gordon (Hector-Ingram, 46).

Subs not used: Forde

Goals: Hannam.