Nathan Trott and his West Ham United Under-21 teammates Checkatrade Trophy campaign came to an end after they suffered a 4 - 0 defeat to Luton Town at Kenilworth Road.
Trailing 1-0 at the interval, West Ham conceded three second half goals bringing an end to what had, up until now, been a hugely positive competition for Terry Westley’s side.
The Academy Director praised his former side’s performance, but admitted the final 4-0 score line was unfair.
“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” he explained.
“If you can’t stick with it, you will get punished – we saw it against Wycombe and we saw it again tonight.”
Sead Haksabanovic and Toni Martinez both went close for West Ham with the score at 1-0, but the sucker-punch moment came when Aaron Jarvis got on the end of a speculative long ball to strike past Trott in the 56th minute. The Hammers struggled to recover from then on.
“At half-time I thought we were right in the game so I told the lads exactly that” Westley explained.
“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.”
Luton struck twice more, the last of which in time added on after the 90’ but Westley insisted that even in defeat, matches like these against Football League opponents are crucial to his players’ development.
“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.”