Cheltenham Town: League Cup performance can help our league campaign says Mark Yates
MARK Yates was encouraged by the way his Cheltenham Town team handled their West Ham United experience in the Capital One Cup.
It was the Robins' third match against Premier League opposition under Yates' management and comfortably the closest they have come to forcing an upset.
They matched the Hammers for most of the first half before going a goal down in the 42nd minute when Ricardo Vaz Te cracked in an unstoppable free-kick from 25 yards.
Full debutant Ravel Morrison made it 2-0 less than a minute into the second half, but Cheltenham did not crumble like they have in previous FA Cup third round ties against Tottenham Hotspur and Everton, which ended in 3-0 and 5-1 defeats respectively.
Gents, come in to Earl's & Co and enjoy a haircut and finish, glass of whisky and a shoeshine for £18.50
Terms: Later and earlier appointments available upon request
Contact: 01242 504887
Valid until: Tuesday, December 31 2013
On this occasion, midfielder Matt Richards halved the deficit from the penalty spot after Jermaine McGlashan was fouled by goalkeeper Adrian.
And while Scott Brown was called upon to make some outstanding saves at the other, Cheltenham had late chances to take the tie to extra time with Zack Kotwica and Byron Harrison going close.
"It's definitely the best we've done against a Premier League team and hopefully we've learned from the other two," said Yates.
"There were a lot of excellent performances and there were plenty of encouraging signs for us to take into the League Two campaign."
Yates urged his players not to be overawed by the occasion, as they might have been at White Hart Lane and in last season's televised home clash with Everton.
He used a 4-5-1 formation for the first time this season, with Terry Gornell up front on his own and West Ham found it hard to break through, particularly in the first half.
"They are obviously a good side, but until the top class free-kick just before half-time, they weren't hurting us," Yates said.
"We had the better chances before they scored and then the second goal was disappointing and the killer blow really.
"But we responded brilliantly, had a couple of half chances before the penalty and then could have nicked one at the end, although I accept they had chances to score a third too.
"We just gave ourselves too much to do, but we kept it tight without being overawed, limiting their space and pressing at times.
"I thought it worked well and they have plenty of top players, but a few of mine have shown they can play too."
Yates took the decision not to risk central defender Troy Brown, who felt tightness in his hamstring at Accrington Stanley on Saturday.
That meant a first appearance for 18-year-old Crystal Palace loan defender Ryan Inniss, who was praised for his performance.
"Ryan was outstanding and he got tired at the end, but he was a colossus," Yates said.
"He was fouled in the first ten minutes with a nice little elbow in the face, but he was excellent, as were a lot of the boys and I am very pleased with how we did. Ryan has shown he has a big future in the game."
Yates also thanked the 1,500 travelling fans who created such a party atmosphere in the Sir Trevor Brooking Stand at Upton Park.
"The supporters were superb too, making a lot of good noise and getting behind us," he said.
"We need that at home now as well as nights like this and we so nearly took it to extra time."