Mark Robson: U23s will take a lot from London Stadium win


Mark Robson hopes his West Ham United U23s can find plenty of positives to take away from Friday’s 3-2 win over Brighton & Hove Albion at London Stadium. 

The development squad took to the pitch at the home of the Hammers in Premier League 2 action just 24 hours after a famous night in which the first team claimed a 2-1 aggregate win over La Liga giants Sevilla in the Europa League.

The good times in Stratford continued as Pierre Ekwah, Thierry Nevers and Kamarai Swyer all struck to earn the U23s a deserved three points in a highly entertaining match, played in front of incredible Irons supporters.

“This is a fantastic stadium,” Robson told West Ham TV. “It was really good to come and play here. It was great for the lads and really good for the staff as well, to come and get a feel for the ground. We don’t get this chance that often. 

“We’ve come away with the win. I thought we were good in the first half. We weren’t so good in the second half, and Brighton caused us a few more problems. I was delighted to come away with the three points. 



“I thought Pierre’s goal was really good. He executed it really well. It’s something he does in training and he has got that in his ability. I was really pleased with him for scoring. 

“With the score at 1-1, to come back and take the lead and then score again was really good. I thought the pressing from the front four for the third goal was excellent. That was really pleasing, to score from winning the ball up so high, which we had been working on. It was a real pleasure to see.”

Ekwah’s fine finish from distance had given the Irons the advantage at London Stadium, only for Brighton to bite back early in the second period. Substitutes Swyer and Nevers struck in quick succession to put the Hammers in the ascendancy, before the Seagulls found the net again on 81 minutes for a tense close.

Reflecting on the first period, Robson continued: “We controlled the game. We bossed the ball. We kept it really well. At times we perhaps looked a bit safe and could have tried to break the lines more when we had those opportunities. But to be able to do that, you need movement, and we didn’t quite get the movement from our wide players in the first half. 

“We needed a bit more and it didn’t quite happen. If we could have been a bit more penetrative then it would have totalled up to a really excellent half.”

To come and play here, at London Stadium, which is a beautiful ground, with a few fans here is great.
Mark Robson

The U23s lead coach noted that his team will have enjoyed the chance to play in front of supporters at London Stadium, with the squad stopping to sign autographs and take photos with young members of the Claret and Blue family following the match.

“With playing at the training ground, attendance is obviously only limited to family and close friends. To come and play here, at London Stadium, which is a beautiful ground, with a few fans here is great. I’m sure the boys will take something from that because it’s a great experience for them.”

A number of young Hammers now head away on international football and Robson says the side will use the opportunity to take a much-needed rest, ahead of a busy end-of-the-season run for the development side.

He added: “We’ll take the chance to give one or two of the boys a little breather. I know one or two of the boys have looked a little bit jaded and have had a lot of travelling with the first team, and that does take a lot out of you.

“We hope we can give them a little bit of work, but also a little rest; recharge the batteries and come back fresh and ready to go for our next game, which will be another challenging match for us.”