West Ham United U23s Lead Coach, Dmitri Halajko was disappointed with his sides performance at the full-time whistle, as West Ham United U23s were beaten 3-1 by Derby County on Monday evening.
In a fiery contest at the Loughborough University Stadium, the east Londoners battled hard in the first half, but conceded two quickfire goals in the early stages of the second half to give Derby a deserved lead.
Sonny Perkins fired in with eight minutes to go, but any hope of a comeback was thwarted as Jack Stretton scored his second of the evening.
“It’s a disappointing performance,” Halajko told whufc.com. “It’s come off the back of two really good performances against Leeds and Ipswich, where we were really happy with the progress.
“Tonight, we haven’t reached anywhere near those levels and that’s a big disappointment. When you perform below par in games like this, you will get punished, especially at this level.”
In a pretty even first half, both teams looked to get in behind on the counter attack and Halajko admits that his team need to be able to control games better.
“There wasn’t much between then teams if I’m honest, we both had spells of possession and created chances, so statistically it was an even contest. They scored two goals in quick succession, and we tried to come back from that – we did have a rally round and got one goal back, which was probably our most dangerous part of the game.
“We need to be able to control games better and not allow quick and easy goals to be conceded, as that’s always difficult to come back from.
“There was a lot of turnovers in the match, which does make the team who is winning the ball back more likely to break on the counter attack, and it was that sort of match.
“The game was a little bit loose, and we struggled to control the play how we usually would want to."
One shining light from the defeat was Perkins grabbing his first goal for the U23s, having come off the bench against the Rams.
“It was great for Sonny to grab his first goal for the development team, Halajko explained. “He’s done really well with the U18s, scoring a lot of goals at that level. Sonny hasn’t trained a lot with this group, and he’s done well in both games that he’s been brought on in.
“He’s shown some really good things in those games, and we hope he will continue to do so.”
Levi Laing suffered a head injury early in the first half after colliding with goalkeeper, Krisztian Hegyi, and Halajko was able to offer and update on the young defender.
“Levi is okay, he had a bad blow to the head, but has okay. He watched the rest of the game from the bench and he’s feeling better. The early signs are good so hopefully he will continue to recover well.”
West Ham United U23s will now turn their attention to their next Premier League 2 fixture against newcomers, Crystal Palace.
“Palace is another big game, Halajko said. “It’s another London derby and always good to be back at home. Some of our first team staff will be watching on so that should give the lads some extra incentive to bounce back.
“They’re a good team, they haven’t struggled and have managed to adapt to the new division. We expect it to be another tough test, but we hope to put right the wrongs from this evening.”