Halajko: We'll have to be at our best against Middlesbrough


West Ham United U23s make another long away trip to the North-East tonight where they face Middlesbrough U23s in the latest round of the Premier League 2 Division 2.

The Hammers will be looking to continue their excellent start to their league campaign in which they are yet to be beaten - winning four and drawing one.

The Academy side currently sit second in the league table behind leaders Manchester United only on goal difference.

The match marks a quick turnaround for Lead Coach Dmitri Halajko, after his side beat West Bromwich Albion 2-0 just four days ago in a physical affair at the Chigwell Construction Stadium.

They’re always going to be well organised, always going to be hard-working, they’ve always got some players who’ve got real quality

Dmitri Halajko

Halajko is expecting another tough test on Teesside against a Boro side who were also in action on Monday night, overcoming local rivals Sunderland 3-2.

Middlesbrough are managed by former Hartlepool and Sheffield Wednesday defender Graeme Lee; his side currently sit fourth and have only tasted defeat once so far this season.

With both sides currently occupying play-off spots, Friday night’s fixture is sure to be a tense affair at Bishop Auckland FC, and Halajko is not expecting the opposition to give anything away.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had an easy game against a Middlesbrough team. They’re always going to be well organised, always going to be hard-working, they’ve always got some players who’ve got real quality.”

A much-improved second-half display from West Ham saw Anthony Scully score twice in quick succession to seal all three points against West Brom, and Halajko is hoping that his side can start quicker tonight than they did against the Baggies.

“If we perform like we did in the second half against West Brom, then we should have a positive outcome. It’s two games in four days so it’ll be a physical and mental test from that point of view. You never go up to Middlesbrough and have an easy game, so you know it’s going to be another tough one and we’ll have to be at our best.”

In-form striker Anthony Scully has found the net five times in his last four appearances and has really hit the ground running during the early stages of the season. The 20-year-old struggled last season with injuries but now looks to have put that behind him.

“Anthony Scully’s top scorer now since he’s gone into that No9 position,” said Halajko. “He’s really made it his own. He’s scored four, five goals now, and he could’ve got three tonight – he looks like a real, real threat, a predator, in and around the box. We’re really happy with his progress and he will be as well.”

West Ham United U23s return to the Chigwell Construction Stadium next Sunday 29 September where they take on Sunderland. Kick-off is at 12pm.

Training wear