Dan Kemp: U21s weren’t our usual selves at Exeter

Dan Kemp


West Ham United U21s forward Dan Kemp admitted his side were second best at Exeter City, but believes the performance was an anomaly in an otherwise excellent campaign thus far.

The Hammers went to St James Park on Wednesday night looking to qualify for the knockout stages of the Leasing.com Trophy for the first time since 2017/18.

However, despite already having guaranteed their own progression, Exeter played with an intensity which West Ham struggled to cope with at times, and were ultimately worthy 3-1 winners on the night.

“As we’ve always said, we win together and we lose together as a team, and I think generally we just weren’t at it tonight,” Kemp admitted. 

“I think we can take a lot of good lessons away from the game. There were a lot of things to learn from, especially for the young boys who have only recently been part of the group – for some of them it was their first taste of Leasing.com Trophy football.

“We weren’t our usual selves, and they deserved their win because we didn’t play well enough. Unfortunately we never really had a grip of the game. Everyone could have done better including myself – it’s just one to move on from.”

As a group we've had a fantastic season so far. Hopefully, this is just a blip, and we’ll be back into the form that we’ve shown throughout the season

Dan Kemp

The Hammers fell behind in the ninth minute to a direct goal from Joel Randall and, despite Joe Powell’s penalty levelling the scores in the 18th minute, struggled to garner a foothold in the match.

They were ultimately made to pay when Jordan Tillson’s 78th-minute header from a free-kick and Randall’s 88th-minute tap-in all but confirmed their elimination from the competition.

The result marks West Ham’s first defeat by a two-goal margin this campaign, having previously only lost twice in 14 matches, but Kemp believes it could spur the side on in Premier League 2 Division 2, which the team currently lead by three points.

“As a group we’ve had a fantastic season so far,” he said. “Hopefully, this is just a blip, and we’ll be back into the form that we’ve shown throughout the season. 

“We’re always a team that’s looking to move forwards, and we’ve got some great players and great staff here, so we’ll pick ourselves up and go again in the league.”

West Ham United U23s continue their league campaign at home to Aston Villa on Friday 22 November; kick-off is at 7pm at the Chigwell Construction Stadium.

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