Mark Robson at London Stadium

Robson: First-half showing proved costly for U23s

Mark Robson was left bemoaning his West Ham United U23s side’s first-half performance in Friday’s 2-0 defeat to Blackburn Rovers.

The Irons fell to a disappointing loss to Rovers in Premier League 2 Division 1 action on Friday, with Jake Vale putting the home side ahead after just four minutes.

Luke Brennan secured the three points for Blackburn in added time at the end of the second half but lead coach Robson believes his team’s first half showing ultimately led to the loss.

“It was a disappointing game," Robson told “I couldn’t believe our first half performance. We lost the game in the first half. They scored from a set-piece but, throughout the first half, we just were not at the races.

We made poor decisions and we were just second best throughout the first half.
Mark Robson

“We knew it was going to be a tough game. We said before the game that we knew they were a good side but, if you give them time, they close you down quick. Our passing was disappointing and we made poor decisions, and we were just second best throughout the first half. We probably got the result we deserved, in that aspect.”

The development side certainly offered more attacking impetus in the second half as Sonny Perkins and Emmanuel Longelo both went close, before Armstrong Okoflex saw a curling effort ruled out for offside.

Robson was much happier with the second 45 minutes but admitted his team did not deserve a share of the points.

Mark Robson West HAm United U23s v Chelsea


“The second half was better. When we came in at half-time, we had to change a couple of things. I don’t want to make any excuses because Blackburn were very good, but we had struggled to get some rhythm and we had to adapt a little bit.

“I asked the lads to show a bit more character and I actually think we had a go in the second half. We had a chance really early on through Sonny and he normally puts them away for fun, but he’s put that wide. We caused them problems in the second half and we were much better, but the damage was done for us in the first half.

“No complaints from me. I said to the boys after that the pressure is on them because we all want to win the league, but you need to be able to handle that pressure and stay calm and do the bits around the game that you need to. We didn’t do that in the first half today and we didn’t show our best.”

Robson has now called on the U23s to step up and show their absolute best in the remaining matches as the team look to maintain pressure on Manchester City at the top of the division, while also preparing for a Premier League Cup round of 16 match with Leeds United on Monday.

Mark Robson


Robson added: “I said to the boys after the game that we’ve got some real quality in our group but a couple just haven’t produced in the last three or four games. Some players have just been okay and we need more than okay if we want to be the players we think we are. We need to be more consistent and hopefully we can get a bit more from the guys and attack Monday’s game in the way we know we can.

“This was the big game for us because if we’d won then it would have kept things ticking over nicely for the league and would have kept the pressure on Manchester City. We’ve probably put them in a good position to win the league but there’s still a few games left and we’ve just got to do our job and get as maximum points as possible.

“We’ve got three league games left and we want to win all three. We’ve also got the Cup on Monday and hopefully we can continue our run in the competition. It’s one game at a time for us.”


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