U23s Head Coach Dimitri Halajko has urged his side to retain their momentum following a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Fulham U23 this evening.
With his team opening their Premier League 2 Division 2 campaign with an emphatic victory – secured by first-half strikes from Kemp and Lewis, and a second-half Afolayan tap-in – Halajko urged his young players to continue to enjoy their football moving forwards.
Speaking after the match, he said: “We’re very happy. A 3-0 win, a clean sheet, good individual performances and a good team performance.
"We just said remember the feeling they got after today’s game. Keep that and remember it, and try and repeat it, because that’s what football’s all about, days like today. If we can have as many of those as possible, that’s a good thing.”
The U23s started with an abundance of energy that yielded two goals in the first opening fifteen minutes. The first came when a quickly-taken free-kick found Dan Kemp, who slotted past the keeper, and the second when a low cross found Alfie Lewis to side foot home.
The third also embodied the team’s desire and hunger, when Oladapo Afolayan dispossessed the Fulham U23 goalkeeper before finishing into an empty net.
Such intensity impressed Halajko, who praised “the way we pressed the ball in one half of the pitch, the way we broke lines with our passes to play forward, and then the chances we created.
“We could’ve had more: we missed a penalty and the goalkeeper’s made a few good saves, so we were clinical in terms of creating our chances, but we could finish a higher number in terms of the number of chances we create.”
While the result proved the perfect opening to the campaign for the U23 side, Halajko is aware that bigger tests will come – and more frequently – in the months ahead.
He said: “We want to test the boys. I like to play a game every four to five days really, so it is a lot of games, but that’s what we want, we want to test the boys, we want them to come thick and fast, so that it’s the best challenge for them.
“The team needs to be picked on merit in terms of the people who are training well and working hard, but to be fair to our squad at the moment that could be pretty much everyone, because everyone’s doing well.”
West Ham United U23s’ next Premier League 2 game is away to Newcastle at Whitley Park on Saturday 17 August.