Mark Robson could not contain his delight at a superb West Ham United U23s showing as the development side defeated Everton 4-3.
Despite starting Monday evening’s game away to the Toffees well, the U23s found themselves 2-0 behind to the home side in the first half; a score-line that did not truly reflect the fixture.
Sonny Perkins netted twice either side of half-time to level the game but Everton would again take the lead through a deflected free-kick, only for Manny Longelo and Armstrong Okoflex to each score deserved finishes to secure a fantastic comeback victory.
Lead coach Robson could not be happier with the team’s attacking performance and work rate in the victory.
“We got a reaction from the boys,” Robson told whufc.com. “I thought, in possession, we played really well. We had some very good performances on the ball in this game and we caused them a lot of problems. We scored four and we probably could have scored more than we did.
“We started the game really well but went 1-0 down. Their goalkeeper has made a couple of really good saves and then makes another good save, and then they go straight down the other end and scored their second. We were playing well but we weren’t putting the chances away but, credit to the boys, they showed great character. It would have been easy for the heads to drop, particularly after recent weeks, but I’m very proud of them because they got the bit between their teeth, and they kept going.
“We kept playing, we caused Blackburn a lot of problems, and our forward play was really good. Some of it was some of the best we’ve played all season. The amount of running some of the boys did was superb. They were properly causing them problems and we did it really well. I’m really proud and pleased with the overall effort and performance.”
Recent results have not gone for the U23s, with a couple of frustrating performances also registered by the young Hammers, and Robson was particularly thrilled to see his side show their very best.
The lead coach made note of how the team rallied after going two goals behind in the first period.
He continued: “Sonny scored a really good goal to make it 2-1 and that gave us something to work with at half-time. To be honest, we didn’t need to say much at half-time apart from ‘keep doing what we’re doing because we’re playing really well’.
“We went a little more direct from goal-kicks and I think both Sonny and Kamarai did well that in terms of flick-ons or holding onto it. We showed great character to come back. We kept working hard and we got our reward.
“Some of our football was first class. We were disappointing in our last game. Really disappointing. We didn’t play forward enough but we did it really well against Everton. It was something we looked at in training and in videos, and we tried to create something positive in terms of getting back to the level we know they can play at. Fair play to the boys because they did that superbly in this match.”
Two of the regulars in the West Ham U18s were also introduced off the bench in defender Michael Forbes and forward Divin Mubama, and Robson was impressed with their respective efforts.
With Archie Woods and George Earthy on the bench as well, Robson says the youngsters have earned their opportunity in the development team.
He added: “Michael has come in a few times for us and he has done exceptionally well. He didn’t get too many minutes in this game but he was calm and comfortable on the ball, which was really pleasing.
“Divin has also come on a few times for us and he’s worked his socks off every time. They are two players of a number of players who have been doing well in the U18s.
“We also had Archie Woods on the bench and he’s played in a cup game for us. It was also good to see George Earthy with us and maybe, if he had been a bit more comfortable in terms of scoreline, we might have got one of them on.
“They’re doing well in the U18s and these lads deserve to get an opportunity with us. I thought the two lads who came on did well.”