West Ham United midfielder Tomáš Souček has reaffirmed that, while Saturday evening’s 1-1 draw with Brighton & Hove Albion was a setback, the Irons are refusing to give up on their goal of securing European football next season.
A game light on chances in the first half opened up significantly in the second, with both sides having their share of the opportunities, but neither taking them until the closing stages.
Just moments after Danny Welbeck had clipped the ball over Lukasz Fabianski to put the Seagulls in front in the 84th minute, Said Benrahma’s superb curling strike – the Algerian’s first goal in a West Ham shirt – brought the Irons immediately level.
In the end, despite playing themselves into a number of promising positions, the Irons lacked a cutting edge at the Amex Stadium – an aspect of the display Souček rued.
The Czech Republc international reflected: “A draw isn’t good enough for us because we came here and really wanted to win, because all of our squad want to be in the Europa League - or more - next season.
“We are disappointed with the result. We created many chances but we needed to score – a draw was not enough for us.
“It is still our dream [to be in the top six] and we want very much to be there at the end of the Premier League season, but with two games to go, we now need six points. Our next game is important for us.
“We said in the changing room tonight that we needed to score, because in the last few games we’d started losing and it’s hard to change to winning games.
“In the next game, we need to be prepared for the first chance – and score it.”
Despite the draw, West Ham remain sixth in the Premier League table – a position which would, if retained, see them qualify for the Europa League group stages next season.
They possess a three-point lead over seventh-placed Tottenham Hotspur, albeit having played a game more, and will also be aware that four more points would see them surpass the Club’s Premier League record of 62.
That aspiration is in stark contrast to the end-of-season circumstances Souček encountered when he first joined the Club last season, in which the campaign's run-in saw West Ham battling to secure their top-flight status.
The midfielder said: “It was strange for me when I first came here, because I immediately fought relegation from the Premier League, but we won that fight.
“This season we thought that we wanted to play higher up in the league and play to reach, for example, the Champions League or the Europa League.
“That is still alive, so we want to do the maximum to stay sixth or above.”
Despite his disappointment, Souček was also pleased to see Benrahma score his maiden goal in West Ham colours – and in a manner befitting of his ability.
The 26-year-old noted: “Said deserved the goal very much and will continue to add to his goal sheet.
“I think that he’s one of the best strikers at Rush Green [Training Ground], so he showed us that today and he will score many more goals in the future.”
Saturday’s game marked the Hammers’ final behind-closed-doors fixture before the return of a limited number of supporters to Premier League grounds next week.
With an away trip to West Bromwich Albion on Wednesday evening and a season finale against Southampton at London Stadium next weekend both still to come, Souček is looking forward to experiencing the much-missed atmosphere behind top-flight English football once more.
The Czech midfielder explained: “I really look forward to it, because since I came to England, I have played maybe three or four games with fans and with crowds.
“Even if it will just be a small number like 10,000 fans, or 25 per cent of grounds’ capacities, it will be great, so I really look forward to it and I hope that we will show them two West Ham wins.`