Arsenal had 'cutting edge' over West Ham U23s - Westley

Terry Westley

Academy director Terry Westley has conceded Arsenal’s quality was the difference as the West Ham United U23s fell to a 3-0 defeat in Boreham Wood.

Two first half finishes from Vlad Dragomir were followed up by a late Eddie Nketiah strike to hand the Hammers the loss on Friday evening.

West Ham looked to battle back in the second period but struggled to find a way through a strong Arsenal team, and Westley admitted that his young U23s side were beaten by the better side on the night.

“They are a strong team with strong players,” Westley told “Some have played in the Europa League or at least travelled with the squad, with the first team. You could see the quality they had in their team.

They are a strong team with strong players. You could see the quality they had. Arsenal really had the cutting edge.

Terry Westley

“I though we stayed with the game nicely in the second half to be fair. The late goal was a bit unfair on us given how hard we had worked, but Arsenal really had the cutting edge. They play some nice, attractive football. We were really just trying to stay with them. A 3-0 was about right.”

Westley did not look to make excuses for the loss but did point to the number of regular U23s players that his team lined up without.

Nathan Holland is currently out injured, as is Josh Pask, while Declan Rice and Domingos Quina were with the first team squad at London Stadium for the Premier League tie with Leicester City.

The Academy director added: “I don’t think you can take out the quality of players we’ve in our squad, like Pask and Holland, and then Declan Rice and Domingos Quina. When you take that level out, we haven’t got the numbers to come in and really strengthen the team again. It was always going to be difficult.

“Rosaire Longelo, Ben Wells and Ben Johnson are all under 18, meaning three of our back four were under 18. Conor Coventry, in midfield, is also under 18, so it was going to be a tall order tonight from the start.”

Ben Wells U23s Arsenal

Westley did however indicate that such a game taught him and his coaching team about other qualities the players possess, before highlighting Nathan Trott’a performance.

The goalkeeper made a number of top saves, including one from a first-half penalty, in Friday’s match to stop Arsenal from netting more than the three goals they found.

Westley continued: “It was a different type of game and what you do see is people’s character and the ones who can stand up to it when it goes against you.

“On that note, I would probably say our best performer was our goalkeeper, Nathan Trott. He’s had 14 plus shots to deal with tonight and he’s pulled off some very good saves, including the penalty.”