Johnson: Barnet gave U23s a good pre-season test

Ben Johnson


West Ham United U23s were given a good test by Barnet in Saturday’s pre-season draw, according to defender Ben Johnson. 

The Irons were held to a goalless stalemate by the National League side at the Hive on Saturday, although West Ham enjoyed the better of the chances, with Nathan Holland going close from close range and Anthony Scully seeing a penalty kick saved. 

Barnet’s experience made the team stern opposition for Liam Manning’s young Hammers, but Johnson believes he and his teammates came through the game well. 

“It was a good game,” Johnson told “They made it tough for us and they had a few chances as well, but their season is starting next weekend. We’ve got a couple more weeks to go to get our fitness up. It was a good test.”

The 18-year-old, who put pen to paper on his first professional deal with West Ham back in January, is happy with how his side were able to deal with Barnet’s attacking style, citing the home team’s physicality. 

Johnson, however, wants to see the team develop going forward ahead of the opening match of the Premier League 2 campaign.

He continued: “Barnet played a very direct game, getting down the channels and trying to outmuscle us. It was something we needed to deal with and I think, on the whole, we did okay. We managed to keep another clean-sheet, which is always a positive. 

“I think we’re a little disappointed with our product in the final third, but if we tidy that up in the next couple of weeks then we should be good for the start of the season.”

With the U23s unbeaten in their last four pre-season games, Johnson and his teammates will take on Billericay Town on Tuesday evening at the AGP Arena, before facing Watford on Friday. 

The defender is optimistic that these two fixtures will see the side hit their best form before the season opener against Tottenham Hotspur.

“We have a strong base to work from now. We have games now on Tuesday and Friday, which is a really quick turnaround. Hopefully we can score some goals, defend well, get two more wins on the board, and go into the new season on a high.”