Date: 12th March 2013 at 11:53am
Written by:

Dan Potts of West Ham United vies for ball with Shinji Kagawa of Manchester UnitedWith my Monday afternoon off from university, what better way to spend my time then to watch the reserves play in their Barclays U21 Premier League Elite Group match v Liverpool.

Pre match, I was looking forward to seeing perform and how the two promising full backs, Danny Potts and Jordan Spence, were getting on.

The match finished 3-3 and I can only say that the quality and excitement surpassed all expectation from the two sides. Liverpool fielded a strong team, with 4 first team players and even 2 full England internationals; Andre Wisdom, Suso, Jonjo Shelvey and Raheem Sterling. However, our boys remained focused throughout and I was heavily impressed.

 

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Their 3 goals I can honestly say we down to their quality rather then our mistakes. Sterling scored a rifle of a shot, which arguably Spence could have cleared better from and Suso finished two impressive runs, which Driver and Shaw just couldn’t get close too with two smart finishes.

Apart from the goals, I felt we defended very well, dealing with heavy Liverpool pressure in a majority of both halves. Impressing as per was Dan Potts, who was playing centre back, instead of his more accustomed left back. Potts was composed, made some important tackles and was arguably my Man of the Match, notably taking his goal well. Potts played in the first team this year in the Cup and although I felt he was somewhat out his depth, his clear potential was there to be seen and his performances in the Championship last year support this.

I was at Cup 3rd round reply at Old Trafford, when Big Sam played Potts and Spence at either full back position and I definitely think they both have what it takes to play for West Ham at the top level.

Spence’s performance was less impressive and although I wouldn’t say he had a bad day, the pace and technique of Sterling is in a different league to the majority of what he’s used to but I feel he will still improve and is showing signs that he is getting better. Driver and Shaw, our other CB and RB, also looked solid and I look forward to watching more of them.

 

In midfield, against the quality of Shelvey and Suso, I was afraid we might be overrun however luckily this wasn’t the case. and Kieran Bywater were part of every attacking move the boys had and although neither have made a league appearance, based on today’s performance it can’t be that far away.

Moncur, son of former West Ham player John, stepped up as the game went on and his influence was admirable. What was particularly encouraging for me was that he was the one that lost the ball that lead to Liverpool’s second and Suso’s first, but his head did not drop and he only improved due to his mistake. Bywater also impressed me playing behind the strikers; he covered a lot of ground by being the team’s playmaker but also getting back and helping out when we were on the back foot. Most notably about Bywater were his set pieces, 3 of his corners were converted and a free kick converted by Lee that ruled as offside. I know many fans like myself are getting a bit tired of Noble’s driven corners coming to nothing and to see balls like this put into the box on a very windy day is very promising.

 

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Now to our on loan Brazilian Wellington, so what did I think about him? Not good enough. Arguably, he took his goal very well and he did more then striker counterpart . However, he lacked movement at times and his pace seemed off. His strength definitely seemed to be his biggest factor, outmuscling a few Liverpool defenders and getting up well for his goal but as a Premiership striker, he would struggle based on today’s performance. Unfortunately, he didn’t get too many chances to shoot so I can’t really comment on that but I did feel his hold play lacked intelligence and when he got on the ball he misplaced a few passes.

Lee also did little, he had limited opportunities on the ball but his movement did impress me. It is clear that he is a born goal scorer, getting into promising positions for his disallowed goal by charging down the goalkeeper when he dropped it and his athletic athleticism to score the dramatic late equaliser. Whether he has what it takes to compete on the main stage only time will tell. Also a note on Blair Turgott, he had a few promising touches in the first half but disappeared second half when we were up against it. I feel he is definitely a winger for the future and look forward to seeing him making a move for the first team now he is back from Bradford.

Nick Haycock’s side are performing at a high standard and I feel there are definitely a few young prospects that us supporters can be excited about. It was great to see that the last minute equaliser was met by all the players celebrating together and the belief that there were going to get something from the game. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the game and I believe we still have one of the most propitious and bright academies in the country, which will continue to produce quality players.

COYI @lmurray93

 

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