Gonçalo Cardoso: U23s performance the perfect reaction
West Ham United U23s defender Gonçalo Cardoso was pleased not only by their 4-0 victory over Stoke City U23s on Monday evening, but also the manner in which they achieved it.
Cardoso enjoyed possibly his finest performance in a Claret and Blue shirt to date, the Hammers' summer signing making several goal-saving interventions to help his team to a well-earned clean sheet.
That the performance came after their first loss of the season two weeks ago – a 4-3 loss to Cheltenham Town, which Cardoso was absent for – was all the more pleasing for the Portugal youth international, who was also celebrating his 19th birthday.
“I think in football the best way to react to a defeat is with a win, especially this kind of win,” he reflected afterwards. “4-0 at an amazing stadium was the perfect way to react.
“It was a great game against a difficult team. They were in third, and had players who had already played in the Premier League, so we knew beforehand that it would be a difficult game.
“It was a top-of-the-table league game and we won, so we are very proud of our performance. It was a brilliant performance as a team.”
We knew that if we waited to get into the game, we would concede goals rather than score them. I think we started the game really focused, and as a result scored very early.
After the Hammers took an early 2-0 lead, the home team poured forward in search of a way back into the match, only to find Dmitri Halajko’s side in resolute defensive form.
Cardoso impressed at the heart of defence alongside Sam Caiger, and spoke afterwards of his pride in keeping Stoke City at bay in such a testing fixture.
He said: “The clean sheet was pleasing of course for all the team, but especially for the defence, because you always want to keep one.
"I think the team go into every match really concentrated. We know that we need to always be switched on.
“They had experienced players, so we knew that if we waited to get into the game, we would concede goals rather than score them. I think we started the game really focused, and as a result scored very early.”
West Ham U23s went on to seal the result with second-half goals from Nathan Holland and Anthony Scully, maintaining their unbeaten start to the league season.
With their three-point advantage at the top of Premier League 2 Division 2 also intact, the Irons next face a trip to Norwich U23s on Friday evening – and Cardoso is pleased that the games are coming thick and fast.
“It’s a challenge to play twice inside a week, but when we become professional, senior players, we will always be playing two,” he reflected.
“It’s a good way to prepare us. Right now, we’re enjoying the win, but from tomorrow we’ll start thinking about the next game away at Norwich.”