Caiger: Halajko trusted in U21s to deliver
West Ham United U21s defender Sam Caiger was inspired by lead coach Dmitri Halajko’s faith in the side last night, according to the 17-year-old.
The young Hammers were trailing 4-1 at half-time to League Two side Newport in the Leasing.com Trophy last night, but, against all the odds, managed to complete a memorable second-half comeback to win 5-4.
Caiger played a crucial role in the turnaround at Rodney Parade, coming on as a half-time substitute before immediately making a darting run into the penalty area. The full-back was subsequently fouled, and Joe Powell dispatched the resulting penalty to make it 4-2 and get the Hammers going again.
Caiger said of the game: “I’m speechless. To come back from 4-1 down at half-time… after our team talk, we just had to come out on the front foot -– and that’s what we did.
“Obviously the gaffer wasn’t impressed at half-time – he was strict with us – but he trusts in us. He said we needed to come out fighting in the second half, and that’s what we did.”
Caiger was pleased with his contribution to the second goal, noting the significance of its timing in the course of the overall match.
In addition to Powell's penalty, goals from Veron Parkes, Kai Corbett and Anthony Scully – his second of the match, having opened the scoring in the first minute – completed the turnaround.
For Caiger, the momentum generated by that second goal was crucial in helping to turn the tide of the match.
The manager told us that we needed a goal early on in the second half, so when we scored in the 47th minute, we knew we had a chance.
“In the first minute of the second half we scored from a penalty,” he said. “Then, we were all of a sudden on top for the rest of the game.
“The manager told us that we needed a goal early on in the second half, so when we scored in the 47th minute, from then on, we knew we had a chance.
“The third goal helped with that, but when we got the fourth, we just thought ‘this is ours to win now’. We went after it - and we did it!”
Although the development squad have a busy calendar ahead, Caiger mentioned that the U23s will enjoy the memories and confidence garnered from the match for days – and numerous upcoming matches – to come.
“We’re all buzzing after the win. We want to celebrate this one and have a fun, long journey back to London!” he told whufc.com.
“This result gives us so much confidence going into the next game, and that’s what we love.
“The U23s have had a good start to the season, they’re unbeaten, and we’ve kept that going today – so hopefully we can keep that going as long as possible.”