Dmitri Halajko: U23s forwards are in top form

Dmitri Halajko

West Ham United U23s lead coach Dmitri Halajko expressed his delight with his forwards’ form after his side hit four for the third Premier League 2 Division 2 game in a row.

Travelling to Swansea U23s’ Landore Training Centre, the Hammers development squad got off to a rusty start, Liam Cullen stabbing home when the Hammers failed to clear a corner after a quarter of an hour.

Top scorer Anthony Scully equalised for West Ham on 30 minutes when he converted a long ball by Gonçalo Cardoso, before the boys Claret and Blue stepped up a gear after the break, Nathan Holland’s second-half brace and a Dan Kemp rocket sealing a 4-2 victory.

With three of his forwards making the scoresheet in South Wales, Halajko expressed his delight with his attacking players’ ruthlessness so far this season.

“I think Nathan is the best left winger in this league,” he told “He’s won games for us on his own this season. 

“Every time he gets the ball, he’s a threat. He can beat one, two, three men, and his finishing is at a really high level. He’s on top form, and he showed again today how good he is, and why he’s right up there in the goalscoring charts, why he’s right up there with assists.

“Our other two did very well as well. Scully’s on a long scoring streak, and Kempy’s up there with his goals in the charts as well. I think in the last four games we’ve scored 14 goals in four, and that just shows the firepower we’ve got in this squad.”

I thought Nathan Holland had a 25-minute spell where he was unplayable, scored two amazing goals, and that was the catalyst to help us dominate the game.

Dmitri Halajko

Halajko admitted afterwards that the performance against Swansea U23s wasn’t his side’s best so far this campaign, but credits Holland and his teammates for their response to the testing circumstances.

“It was a slow start from us,” he admitted. “They started better for the first 20 minutes, which is unusual for us –  we normally like to get on the front foot and score the first goal, but that wasn’t to be today.

“1-1 at half-time, and we were probably fortunate to be at that scoreline, because we weren’t playing at our best at that point, or anywhere near it. We were disappointed at half-time but we regrouped, talked about what we could do better, and in the second half I thought it was all us. 

“We dominated the ball, had plenty of chances, and I thought Nathan Holland had a 25-minute spell where he was unplayable, scored two amazing goals, and that was the catalyst to help us dominate the game.”

The game marked the U23s’ fourth fixture in the last fortnight – after 4-0 and 4-1 wins at Stoke and Norwich respectively, and a 2-3 reverse to Wolfsburg ‘B’ on Wednesday – and Halajko admitted cumulative fatigue might have had an influence on proceedings.

He said: “We’ve used pretty much the same group of players for all of them, so I think there’s a bit of that tiredness in there, and the travel to get out of their legs as well. 

“I don’t think it’s a conscious thing from any of the lads, but maybe they are feeling it a bit. We’ve got a nice training block now, so we’ve got around nine or ten days before our next game. We’ll unload them a little bit, then build them up again and get ready for the next one.”

West Ham United U23s’ next game is away at Exeter City on Wednesday 13 November, their final Trophy group stage fixture.


Training wear