Dmitri Halajko: West Ham United U23 had chances to win game
West Ham United U23 head coach Dmitri Halajko was generally happy with his players’ level of performance against Leicester City U23, but felt they must have regretted a lack of efficiency in front of goal during a possible defeat 2-1.
Young Hammers came into the game knowing that a victory would put them at the top of the Premier League 2 Division 1 table after ten games played.
They once again got off to a perfect start at Leicester City’s training ground when Armstrong Okoflex instinctively swept a loose ball into the bottom corner to put his side ahead after eight minutes.
But despite other presentable opportunities coming and going for Dan Chesters, Thierry Nevers and Okoflex, West Ham struggled to produce the quality final moment required to match their building set, and two unfortunate deviations at the ends. of each half – the second in the fourth minute of stoppage time – saw Leicester register a 2-1 home win.
“It was a good football game,” Halajko told whufc.com. âWe knew it would be difficult tonight. Their home record is really good so we knew it would be a tough game.
âI think we played really well in the first 30 minutes of each half and we had chances to win the game and take it out of sight during those times. Against good opposition, when you’re at the top, you have to score, and we didn’t quite manage to do it today in the spells where we were really dominant.
âIn any football game, the other team is always going to have a spell, and we left the last 15 minutes open in each half for them to take control. It was enough to get them to win.
âIt was disappointing in that regard – we had enough game to get a result, but we just didn’t manage to do it tonight.
âNormally we’re really clinical at the top of the field – that’s one of our strengths so far this season – and that hasn’t really happened for us today.
âYou’re going to have games like that, but it’s not something that hopefully will last long because it wasn’t characteristic of us. I expect that we will get back on track very soon and return to converting those opportunities that we are creating in so many. “
It’s great to be involved in these games – the type of games where you are in and around the top three
A bright spot of the evening was the performance of goalkeeper Brian Kinnear, with the summer arrival making his first Premier League 2 start to the season in the absence of regular No.1 Krisztian Hegyi.
The 20-year-old goalkeeper made two superb saves from Leicester captain Vontae Daley-Campbell in the playoffs as it looked like West Ham could score a point, the first of which was simply outstanding at close range.
Halajko said of Kinnear: âHe did very well. We had complete confidence in him. He has trained so well the last few weeks when he was the second choice, so we had every confidence in him.
“His performance didn’t surprise me at all because of the way he trains day in and day out, and he’s a great example of someone who trains really well and comes out of games for what he’s training: a performance like that. “
Halajko was also happy to see winger Okoflex score his fourth goal in his last four games for the development team.
“It was a very good finish,” noted Halajko. âIt was instinctive where he didn’t have much of a chance to think about it.
âHe had other opportunities where he maybe overthought and could have shot earlier because I think another day he would get more than one.
“The goal he scored was a great end and he’s in great shape, and I expect him to score a lot more this season.”
While the chance to reach the top of the table has unfortunately been postponed – West Ham now sits in third place, two points behind Manchester City and three points behind leaders Arsenal – Halajko believes his side will be involved in more games at high stakes in the coming months.
He explained, âIt’s great to be involved in these games – the type of games where you are in and around the top three.
âThe first team are in and around the top of the Premier League and we have to try to follow them and get to the top of our league because that’s what we expect of ourselves.
âWe want to be involved in these types of games, pushing where we think we should be, which are definitely the top three in the league. We’re going to keep pushing and see if we can do even better than that. “