Sam Baldock was on target as the Development Squad lost out 3-1 at npower League Two side Northampton Town on Tuesday.

With a 20-man first-team squad away in Portugal ahead of Friday's clash with SC Braga, Ian Hendon took a side mixing youth and experience to the Sixfields Stadium, with Baldock joined in the starting lineup by Frederic Piquionne, Jordan Spence and Rob Hall.

Managed by Aidy Boothroyd, Northampton featured former Hammers left-back Joe Widdowson in their starting XI, while striker Clive Platt netted for Coventry City against West Ham in the npower Championship last season.

Both sides traded chances during an entertaining 90 minutes, with Piquionne particularly unlucky not to add to the hat-trick he netted in Saturday's victory at AFC Wimbledon. Jack Powell, Baldock and Hall also saw opportunities go begging.

As it was, Platt's early opener was cancelled out by Baldock five minutes after half-time, but two goals in the final 20 minutes from Kelvin Langmead and Alex Nicholls gave the Cobblers the win.

Speaking after the game, coach Ian Hendon was pleased with his side's overall performance and believes with a little more luck they could have come away with a win.

"We played very well tonight and I won't criticise the lads because on another night they could have come away with a lot more from that performance.

"Jack hit the crossbar when we were 1-0 down with a free-kick and Sam Baldock had one hit him that could have gone anywhere, but unfortunately for us it wasn't to be."

Hendon was pleased with his side's response as the Hammers applied immense pressure during the latter stages of the first half, with Baldock and Rob Hall both going close.

"The team reacted well and like I said before with a bit more luck we could have found ourselves back in the game when we went 2-1 down. We have a little bit of work to do this week with a few days before we face Dagenham and Redbridge, but we played well and we will continue to do so.

"A few of the lads may need a rest with the start of the season just ten days away, but that will give a few of the younger members of the squad a good opportunity against a good team."

Hendon also believes that disappointing results will only serve to benefit the youngsters in his team, explaining that in order for them to progress they need to experience both sides of the game.

"It was basic defending from a set piece that cost us tonight, and although that is disappointing we are playing with 16-year-olds against big, powerful, experienced centre forwards.

"The clue is in the title 'Development Squad' and that's what I'm seeing during every week. We did well to get ourselves back into the game and we continued to create chances which is pleasing. The scoreline is misleading as we were much better than it suggests."

Hall impressed once more and Hendon is delighted with his reaction after returning to the Development Squad following a spell with the first team.

"Rob is listening, learning, and getting better day by day. He may find this season that he drops in and out, but if he keeps his consistency up then he will continue to impress regardless of what side he is in."

Hendon also praised the West Ham supporters who turned out in force, with 269 traveling to the Sixfields Stadium.

The Development Squad travel to Dagenham and Redbridge on Saturday to round off their pre-season preparations before facing Reading in their first Barclays Under-21 Premier League match at the Rush Green Stadium on Friday 17 August at 7pm.

Development Squad: Larkins, Chambers, Fanimo, Powell, Spence, Wearen, Baldock, Lletget, Piquionne, Turgott, Hall
Subs: Guzman Rosique, McCallum, Vose, Miles, Sadlier, Shaw, D.Tombides

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