Ajibola Alese: West Ham United U23s after more goals and clean sheets
West Ham United U23s captain Ajibola Alese was just as delighted to keep a clean sheet as he was to score the winning goal in Friday night’s 1-0 win over Crystal Palace U23s at Rush Green Stadium.
The 20-year-old was once again a towering figure at the back in the Premier League 2 Division 1 win, but was equally influential in providing a simple tap-in at the back post after Jamal Baptiste’s header had been turned onto the crossbar in first-half injury time.
Having conceded three times in a disappointing loss to Derby County U23s just four days prior, Alese was delighted to see his side put lessons from that game into practice.
And as a defender, he admitted to valuing the shut-out just as much as the game-winning goal.
“After Monday night, it couldn’t get much better than this,” he smiled. ”1-0 was a nice score to win by as a defender, with a clean sheet as well, so it’s very good.
“We haven’t had a clean sheet this season before tonight, so hopefully having now got our first, we can get more and more. It was an important part of winning the game.
“We’ve been getting a lot of goals from set pieces, so us defenders just try and get in there and ruffle them. I saw Jamal had got the flick-on and so I just made the run to the back post. It looped off the bar and the finish was easy enough!”
Having recovered from a head injury sustained in the 2-1 win over Chelsea at the end of last month, Alese has certainly been in the thick of things with some impressive displays at centre-back.
The defender is happy just to be out there playing in his boyhood Claret and Blue, and is hoping the Hammers once again show their mettle when they travel to Colchester United in the Papa John’s Trophy group stages on Tuesday night.
He explained: “I enjoy playing so any time I can get out there, I try and give my best. As long as I’m fit, I’ll be out there trying my hardest.
“The goal is to kick on from tonight’s game and look ahead to Tuesday night. It’s another big game and if we win that, we’re through to the next round, so more goals, more clean sheets, and more wins – that’s the plan!”