John McDermott spoke of his pride after our Academy’s fine 5-2 win at West Ham in the FA Youth Cup on Tuesday night – not least the purple patch that laid the foundations for the victory.
Three goals in a little over 10 minutes in the first half from Roman Michael-Percil, Shaq Coulthirst and Kenny McEvoy put the lads firmly in the driving seat in the fourth round tie at Upton Park.
However, the Hammers capitalised on a mistake to reduce arrears before half-time and then struck again to make it 3-2 in the 57th minute.
We always looked dangerous though and when Grant Ward curled home from fully 35 yards for 4-2, the tie was all-but over. McEvoy added his second for 5-2 five minutes from time and it could have been more.
“I was really proud of the team in that first 20, 25 minutes,” said John, our Academy Manager. “The first two or three minutes were a bit nervy from both sides but when we got hold of the game, we had 25 minutes where we were excellent
“We were then a little lax in midfield and they got back into the game. That spoiled the first half a little and put us on a bit of a backward momentum. Then they scored the second to make it 3-2.
“We’ve spoken a lot about it since Anderlecht (a 2-0 loss in the NextGen in December) and some of our first half performances have been excellent but once we’ve been on the back foot, we’ve stayed on the back foot.
“What I liked about us this time was how we wrestled the game back and I thought by the end, we were more likely to score more goals.
“Kenny and Roman provided penetration with pace and our play in the front half of the pitch was excellent.
“Grant Ward has also been doing really well and he sustained that on the big stage. It’s the same with Roman, he’s been playing well in training and he’s now done it on the main stage as well. That’s what you want to see. It’s great to do it against Sunderland or West Brom but to do it at Upton Park, when everyone’s here, I was really pleased for them.”