There were mixed feelings for Under-18s boss Andy Myers after our 2-2 draw with West Ham United, having twice needed to come from behind but also having opportunities to win the game ourselves.
In both halves of that match at Cobham, we fell behind to the Hammers but regrouped to hit back and equalise quickly.
However, rather than feel grateful for a point earned, our failure to capitalise on several good chances created with the scores level in the first half left Myers disappointed we didn’t come away with all three.
‘We started slow in the first half, I think the goal woke us up a little bit and we responded with some good play,’ he said. ‘On reflection, in the first half we probably had the chances to put the game to bed, but we didn’t take them.
‘But we came back to go in at half-time with the score 1-1, thinking we’d probably got a little bit on top of the game for the second half, so if we could go back out and do the same things, maybe with a bit more tempo, we could go ahead.
‘However, the second half was pretty even. West Ham dug in and we dug in, but it was more the quality in the final third that let us down at times.
‘There were also too many turnovers of possession in the second half, I wasn’t really happy with that. It was like a basketball game at times – we attack, they attack. We need a little bit more control and it didn’t happen, so we’re frustrated.’
Despite his frustration at not being able to win the match, Myers was pleased with the way his team fought back to level the scores twice after going behind, with that ability to keep battling and keep heads high an important trait these players had already shown in another 2-2 draw in January.
‘With this group I have to say that’s one thing they always do,’ continued Myers. ‘They did it against Southampton here this year, they never give up. They’ve got this ethic to always work hard and that’s testament to them and the way they work on the training field.’
The match against West Ham was also the first of three London derbies in the space of eight days, with a trip to second-place Tottenham Hotspur to come on Wednesday before we host Fulham next Saturday. With only one more league fixture remaining after those games, Myers is keen for his players to get the most out of those matches and finish the season well.
‘Spurs is a massive game, they’re flying in the league and we don’t want to drop any further down. And then there's Fulham coming up as well, so it will be three London derbies and no matter what level you’re playing at they’re always really important.
‘You have to stay focused and carry on. In development football there’s no time to rest, every time you cross that white line you’re being judged, so they have to get that mentality right from now until the end of the season’