Terry Westley remained extremely proud of his side’s achievements as, despite defeat to Wycombe Wanderers on Tuesday evening, the Hammers U21s progressed to the knockout rounds of the Checkatrade Trophy.
West Ham fell to a 2-0 defeat against Gareth Ainsworth’s League Two outfit and will play Luton Town in the last-32 after finishing second in their group. Victories over Swindon Town and Bristol Rovers meant that the Hammers could have sealed top spot in Group C (South) with a draw or win but instead will settle for second because of an inferior goal difference to Swindon.
Despite the defeat, Westley was proud of what had been achieved by his team: “We have to be positive to start with – we have gone through” he insisted.
“Setting the stall out at the start of the season you ask ‘can you go a step further than last year and qualify through the groups?’, so it’s a really good achievement, we must not forget that.
“To be one of three [U21] teams to go through to the last-32 is a big achievement for the players at the club.
Goals either side of the break proved the difference at Adams Park, with Will De Havilland and Sido Jombati the scorers as Wycombe’s added physicality showed its worth.
“Of course there is the disappointment at having not topped the group, we were a goal away from doing that” Westley explained.
“I was disappointed with the manner of the two goals, it was tough to get the ball down and play because the game was so physical but they are the demands that the young players have to cope with if you are going to go on loan at this level.”
It’s been a long time coming and to name him on the team sheet, to have him in the dressing rooms, seeing him involved again, it’s great.
Terry Westley on Marcus Browne
For Westley, Browne’s return is more than just a boost to his squad:
“I’m hopeful for him more than anything, he loves football, he doesn’t look at anything else so when he’s not playing football his life is a little bit empty, which we work with him on that.
“Five months, it’s been a long time coming and to name him on the team sheet, to have him in the dressing rooms, seeing him involved again, it’s great. I said to him when he went on to just go and enjoy himself and you could see with the burst of pace, getting shots off that we miss him and we want him back to full fitness.”