Steve Potts: West Ham United U23s got there in the end
They were made to work for the three points, but West Ham United U23s can be satisfied with their performance against Exeter City U23s on Wednesday afternoon, according to assistant coach Steve Potts.
The young Hammers toiled for long periods of both halves and twice fell behind in the Premier League Cup clash at Rush Green Stadium.
A positive result was important for the West Ham development squad, however, after suffering a narrow defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers in the opening game of Group F last month.
And West Ham went on to secure just that with Harrison Ashby equalising from the penalty spot in the first half after good work from returning forward Thierry Nevers and, entering the final five minutes of the match, clipping a cross back for Bernardo Rosa to head home.
Then, as the clock ticked into the first minute of injury time, Kamarai Swyer picked up a low pass from U23s debutant Divin Mubama and swept a finish across the goalkeeper to secure a vital victory.
“We got there in the end,” Potts told whufc.com. “It wasn’t our best game of football by far, but we did find a way in the end.
“We tweaked the system towards the end, when we went 2-1 down with about 20 minutes to go. We tried to really get on the front foot and get at them, and luckily enough we got the two goals to win 3-2.
“I just said to the lads in there that we didn’t play particularly well – not as well as we’d have like to have played moving the ball around – but we still had quite a few chances or good openings that we didn’t make the most of.
“We’re a bit disappointed with the goals that we conceded, but Exeter were a team that really got in our face and we struggled to deal with that I thought. We were playing under pressure and trying to work it out from there.
“There’s no guaranteed right to play football – teams are going to make it difficult for you – and we just struggled, especially the first part of the game, to get to grips with that and overcome it, but the second parts of each half were our best.
“The second part of the first half we gradually got to grips with the game, and then in the second half we got the goals we needed in the end.”
After recording his first goal at U23s level in the previous fixture at home to Everton, attacking midfielder Kamarai Swyer’s winner capped a strong impact off the bench for the 18-year-old.
It’s just nice to find a way to win. You’re not always going to play particularly well, but in fairness to the boys we did win
Full-back Ashby, meanwhile, added another goal and assist to his tally, meaning the Scotland U21 international has now recorded three goals and four assists in just eleven West Ham U23s appearances this season.
“We’ve asked all the players to up their numbers,” Potts confirmed.
“Harrison took his penalty really well and Kamarai came on from the bench and made a real impact. He got the goal so we’re really pleased with that, and Harrison with the assist as well, which was a big plus.”
The three points see the young Hammers move second in Group F in the Premier League Cup after two games, with four more still to play, including Swansea City away next month.
Potts concluded: “It’s just nice to find a way to win. You’re not always going to play particularly well, but in fairness to the boys we did win and somehow turned the game around.
“In the competition itself, I think we needed to win after losing the first game, and it’s a competition we want to progress in. It’ll be a good experience for the boys to experience cup football.”