Freddie Potts admitted a 3-1 defeat to Fulham was far away from the kind of opening to the 2022/23 Premier League 2 campaign he and his West Ham United U21s teammates were looking for.
Goals from Sylvester Jasper and Ollie O’Neill had given the Cottagers the advantage at Motspur Park in a close contest but, while Mipo Odubeko was able to loft in a finish for the visitors, Fulham secured the three points with their third goal through Callum McFarlane.
“It wasn’t the start we wanted to the season,” Potts told WHUFC.com. “I feel like Fulham is always a tough game, especially away from home, and we had an idea of how they would set up.
“We had a game plan to deal with them and I think we executed it pretty well in the first half. We looked to spin in behind and play balls past their last man, but in the second half we slowed down. Their three goals capitalised on that and meant we got defeated, which is tough to take.”
The Hammers created several good opportunities throughout Friday’s fixture as Dan Chesters, Armstrong Okoflex and Callum Marshall all went close to adding more goals for Mark Robson’s side.
Potts could feel a high level of confidence in the team but the third goal from the hosts killed their chances of claiming anything from the game.
“At 2-1, we definitely felt like we were right in the game. We were making chances and we had the strikers getting in behind. Dan and Armstrong were also looking to get in behind, so we were attacking, but once they scored their third then it was a lot tougher for us. There wasn’t too long to go, and we needed two goals, which was a hard position to be in.
“We dug in though. We kept fighting until the end. I thought Callum Marshall did really well when he came on in the second half. He led the line well for us. But it was just tough at that point for us.”
The U21s will be back in action with a first home game of the new season next Friday, against Arsenal, and Potts has called on the Hammers to keep their energy high throughout the London derby.
The midfielder added: “There’s a few things we need to improve on but the big thing, I think, is the energy in the team. We need to keep going throughout the 90 minutes, but we’ll be confident going into the Arsenal game.
“We’re only one game into the season and that won’t determine how we play throughout the campaign. We’ll reflect on this and go into it with confidence and positivity.”