Development squad lead coach Dmitri Halajko blamed naivety and poor defending for his team’s first defeat in 17 games at Cheltenham last night.
Having raced into a 3-1 lead at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium through two Dan Kemp finishes and a Bernardo Rosa rocket, the Irons were hauled back to ultimately fail by the odd goal in seven.
This was the team’s second Leasing.com Trophy group stage fixture with the third again in the west country at Exeter on November 13.
That will give them the chance to grab a second victory after beating Newport Count 5-4 last month and Halajko is obviously right to point to some sloppy defending given that in the two games the lads scored eight and conceded eight.
Exciting, maybe, the West Ham Way maybe, but perhaps not quite what’s required when you have your eyes on trophies.
But let’s be realistic to run a team fifth in League two so close without a player in our side with first team experience of any note is a pretty praiseworthy performance
But Halajko – speaking at https://www.whufc.com/news/articles/2019/october/08-october/dmitri-halajko-well-learn-lots-cheltenham-defeat said: “We knew we always had a chance of competing, and maybe getting a result. Then bits of naivety and poor defending at times cost us the result.
“We haven’t managed to hold on to our lead, and we turned the ball over a bit quickly at times, so it wasn’t our best performance. Hopefully [it was] a night that we’ll learn lots and lots from.”
In addition to the challenging prospect of in-form Football League opposition, West Ham went into the game without regular defenders Gonçalo Cardoso and Jamal Baptiste, away on international duty.
Reece Hannam and Iyiola Adebayo were paired at the heart of defence – the latter making his first appearance at U21 level – but luck was not on their side, both players forced to leave the field early due to injury.
Halajko added: “Our two centre halves who’ve played there in the last couple of games are away on international duty, so it was a chance to look at two other lads in there.”