West Ham United U23s cut the gap to the teams above them in the Premier League 2 Division 1 table with a hard fought 3-1 win over Southampton U23s on Friday night.
Goals from Mipo Odubeko (2) and Dan Chesters were enough to see the Hammers claim all three points at the Rush Green Stadium, despite Kazeem Olaigbe’s second half strike for the visitors.
The U23s were boosted by the return of Odubeko, Aji Alese and Conor Coventry from injury, having been without the trio for much of the first half of the season.
Coventry has been an ever-present for the U23s in recent seasons and the captain expressed his delight at being back out on the pitch.
It’s easy to get a bit jealous when you’re out injured so it’s good to be back out there and obviously delighted to get the three points in a must-win game.
“It’s great to be back out there and just being involved with the team,” the midfielder smiled.
“It’s easy to get a bit jealous when you’re out injured so it’s good to be back out there and obviously delighted to get the three points in a must-win game.”
Having only trained a handful of times ahead of Friday’s game, getting through 90 minutes was always going to be a tough assignment for the youngster, however Coventry responded with a battling display, giving his all-in pursuit of a valuable three points.
“I think there were a few of us struggling towards the end,” he admitted. “I don’t know if the plan was for us to get as many minutes as we did.
“Sometimes you’ve just got to get through it, and I think we did that as a team today. I don’t think we were at our best with the ball. I think some of the passing moves that we normally put together, didn’t quite come off tonight but we dug in and did some nice things. It was a good performance all round.”
When the two sides met back in September, the Saints raced into an early two-goal lead before Dmitri Halajko’s side battled back to draw 2-2.
Before the game we talked about just how quickly they start. Southampton really like to come out after you, we felt like we had to nullify that and try and start quicker than them to get the upper hand
Coventry insisted the key to tonight’s win was not allowing a similar pattern to take place.
“Before the game we talked about just how quickly they start. Southampton really like to come out after you, we felt like we had to nullify that and try and start quicker than them to get the upper hand.
Once we were ahead it was about holding onto what we had, I think we managed the game really well at times in the second half.”
The Republic of Ireland U21 International spent the second half of last season out on loan at Lincoln City and having returned to east London with valuable Football League experience, the 20-year-old hopes to get the chance to further develop on loan.
“It would have been nice to come back a bit earlier, I haven’t trained as much as I would have liked, but I think I’ve given myself a chance of proving I’m fit and ready to go and we’ll just see what happens.”