West Ham United U23s coach Steve Potts was satisfied with how his young side held themselves in Friday evening’s 1-1 draw with Braintree Town.
The Academy team’s first outing of pre-season saw them go a goal behind on 16 minutes thanks to Adam Mills’ chipped finish. The Irons fought back, however, and more than deserved the equaliser four minutes from time, coolly slotted away by substitute Sean Adarkwa.
Having given every player in his 22-man squad game minutes in the first match of 2019/20, Potts was happy the side’s efforts, in particular, the younger boys being given a chance at U23s level for the first time.
There are a few of the older boys in that first-half group who will only improve, and the young boys came on and showed a lot of enthusiasm and really stretched the game.
“It was good to have everyone back and out there,” Potts told whufc.com. “I think you can train as much as you want and then it comes to a point where you need a game. Everyone had a good run out there.
“We were okay first half. There are a few improvements to be made. There are a few of the older boys in that first-half group who will only improve, and the young boys came on and showed a lot of enthusiasm and really stretched the game.
“With the first game, you don’t expect it to be perfect, and there were a few things that could have been better, but that’s only natural. It was a good work-rate, and everyone came through really well.”
In playing a National League side, Potts’ young Irons came up against a tough test, particularly physically, but the coach felt his team coped very well with Braintree Town’s experience.
Potts also reserved praise for goalscorer Adarkwa, who always looked a threat after coming on at half-time. His well-placed finish on 86 minutes was well earned for a West Ham side that conducted themselves well in Essex.
He continued: “It was always going to be a question, the physicality when you play teams like Braintree. They can outmuscle you but, in fairness, we finished with a really young team out there, but I think we were the better team in the end.
“Sean did well. He occupied their centre-defenders well. He always looked a threat, got in behind, and the finish was really good.”
With the first pre-season game under their belts, West Ham United U23s will now travel to Slovakia for a week of training as well as another two matches.
Potts is looking forward to taking the young Hammers away and helping them bond as a group during the training camp.
“It’s good to get away,” he added. “You will be at the training ground all season so it’s good to get away, get a few pre-season games under our belt, and work hard in a different environment. All the boys are looking forward to it.”