West Ham academy director Terry Westley felt the 4-0 defeat at Luton Town last night was a ‘harsh’ outcome for his side.
The Hammers U21s had been trailing 2-0 when they had their best spell of the game during the second half, only for Luton to net twice late on through Kavan Cotter and Jordan Cook to give the scoreline a more one-sided look.
If you can’t stick with it, you will get punished – we saw it against Wycombe and we saw it again tonight.Terry Westley
Westley said: “I think we can say 4-0 is a little harsh in the end, the goals weren’t great I have to say that, not particularly well worked, but goals that grind you down at this level.
“If you can’t stick with it, you will get punished – we saw it against Wycombe and we saw it again tonight.”
Striker Aaron Jarvis’s goal just 11 minutes into the second half gave Town a 2-0 advantage that they never seriously looked like giving away, as Westley continued: “At half-time I thought we were right in the game so I told the lads exactly that.
“They had to stay with the game, be tough and there was going to be a moment in the game when the ball was going to drop for us and we were going to have an opportunity.
“But we didn’t stay in it long enough to have that opportunity, the second goal was too easy. It was just a 60-yard boot up the pitch that we haven’t dealt with well enough.
“I’m disappointed that we didn’t keep in the game long enough because I felt our front players had enough to hurt them but we didn’t quite do that.”
As they often do, the Hatters added another two goals late on, making it an unhappy return to Kenilworth Road for Westley who spent five months in charge of the club during 1995.
He said: “It would have been nice to come back [to Luton] and win, but we haven’t done that.
“The fundamentals of the game; tackling, running, defending properly and clearing the ball; this is the hardest bit to learn at under-23 football because everything is not always on the line but tonight it was.
“If you don’t win, you’re out. Luton go through and good luck to them in the next round.”
Town midfielder Lawson D’Ath, who was with Reading in his earlier days, believes that their Premier League youngsters can only learn from the experience of first team football too.
He added: “They pass the ball well, it’s an academy side, I’ve come through it and I know what it’s about.
“They had a couple of really good players, they’ve got the quality, it’s just the other side of the game I think that they need to learn.
“That will come with first team football if they go and get it somewhere, that’s all that they need.”