Mark Robson took great delight in West Ham United U23s’ efforts and quality in Monday’s 5-1 win over Leeds United.
A fantastic Hammers showing clipped the Peacocks as two finishes from Armstrong Okoflex and goals by Dan Chesters, Sonny Perkins and Manny Longelo secured the development team’s place in the Premier League Cup quarter-finals.
Having been disappointed with the performance in defeat to Blackburn Rovers last Friday, Robson was thrilled with both the work-rate and overall ability on show from his young side, who came back from a goal down to secure a pulsating victory.
“I thought we started the game really well,” the lead coach told whufc.com. “We were on the front foot from the first whistle and the effort the boys put in throughout the game was excellent. I was very pleased with our performance.
“We missed one or two chances before Leeds scored and, on another day, we put those away. But we showed good character to come back in the first half.
“I thought we played really well in the second half. Armstrong took his penalty really well. The funny thing is we practised those in training yesterday and he missed! But he’s a good penalty taker and, once he put that away, maybe it eased a bit of tension.
“There were a couple of bits in the first half we thought we might be able to do better, but we found it in the final third in the second half, particularly for Manny Longelo’s goal. Regan Clayton came in from the U18s and I thought he did excellent when he came on and added some quality, and it’s great we get that level from these lads coming into the U23s.
“I thought there were some really good performances from the lads and, not only did we work hard, but we showed some real signs of quality as well. We’re getting back to where we were in terms of quality, which is really pleasing for me and the coaching staff. I’m just delighted with how the boys approached this game. To play on Friday and last Monday, they probably worked even harder today.”
The Irons had undeservingly gone behind through Mateo Joseph’s first-half strike as Leeds caught the Hammers on the counter-attack, but quality finishes from Okoflex and Chesters put the U23s 2-1 in front at half-time.
Okoflex would get his second from the penalty spot before Perkins added another from 12 yards, with Harrison Ashby being fouled for both spot-kicks.
Longelo secured the win with the goal of the game, rounding off a terrific team move to power home a first-time effort from just inside the 18-yard box.
Robson noted the number of chances the U23s created in victory and believes such a result will do wonders for confidence heading into the final weeks of the 2021/22 campaign.
“When I go back to a few months ago, we were creating so many chances in games; as many as we have done in this game against Leeds. I’m not sure the exact number of chances we created but it was a big amount and if you can convert two or three of those, you’re in with a big chance of winning the game.
“A win like this is great for our boys because we have the quality here, and it was clear to see in this match.”
West Ham’s reward for victory is a place in the quarter-finals, against Fulham. The Cottagers are certain of promotion to Premier League 2 Division 1, sitting top of Division 2 by a clear 20 points, and Robson knows they will be a difficult test in the last eight.
He added: “We play Fulham in the last eight, who are top of their division, and no doubt they will be full of confidence as well.
“I think that will be a really good game here and, like everyone, we want to try and get to the Final and go on and win it. It would be great for the lads if we can, but we’ll take it game by game, round by round.”