Academy director Tony Carr was pleased with his young West Ham United side after they gained a valuable 1-1 FA Premier Academy League draw with Cardiff City at Little Heath on Saturday.
With a number of Under-18 regulars involved in last Tuesday's Barclays Premier Reserve League South fixture with Aston Villa, Carr was again required to call upon a number of Under-16 players in defenders Miles Smith, Callum Driver and Sergio Sanchez as well as England Under-16 striker Robert Hall, who was named among the substitutes.
The quartet all performed well as the Hammers took a first half lead through Conor Okus - one of eight Under-18s to appear against Villa at Bishop's Stortford - before a more experienced Cardiff team hit back to equalise after the break. Despite losing their lead, however, Carr was proud of his players.
"It was a good point for us. We led through a goal from Conor Okus after 30 minutes and looked in little danger of conceding but, with them being a little bit older and stronger than us, as the game wore on they took control and scored an equaliser. We had three schoolboys in the back-four and another 15-year-old who came on as a substitute in Robert Hall. We were definitely inexperienced compared to Cardiff and, taking that into consideration, I was very pleased with the result.
"I think the younger players have come in with a bit of a spring in their step and it has been a bit more of a challenge for them. With the older lads, they have a lot more reserve team commitments now and for people like Ollie Lee, Danny Kearns, Conor Okus and Georg Grasser, this was their third game in a week after playing in the reserves against Aston Villa in midweek. Certainly the young lads are equipping themselves very well and preparing themselves well for next year."
West Ham United's youth team return to action with a trip to MK Dons this Saturday, while many of Carr's young charges can also expect to receive the call to represent Alex Dyer's reserve side in next Monday's trip to Stoke City.
West Ham United Under-18: Loveday, Smith, McNaughton, Sanchez, Driver, Kearns (Edgar 55), Lee, Grasser (Hall 65), Okus, Montano, Abdulla (Bajner 65).
Subs not used: Street, Craig