Ian Hendon praised his Development Squad after a hard-fought 1-0 Barclays U21 Premier League win against Bolton Wanderers on Monday evening.

Jordan Spence scored the only goal of the game by heading home from Rob Hall's free-kick midway through the second half, handing the Hammers their sixth win in eight league matches this term.

Reflecting on another victory and a third consecutive clean sheet, Hendon praised his side for grinding out a positive result.

"It was hard-fought game and I have to say that, by hook or by crook, we have come out with a 1-0 win," said the coach. "We created chances from set plays against a team who were a lot bigger than us and a lot stronger than us but the lads hung in well and ground out the result."

Bolton are the only side to beat the Development Squad this season, chalking up a 3-1 win at the Boleyn Ground in September, so Hendon was doubly content that they exacted their revenge at the County Ground in Leyland

"It was difficult to go up there because they are tough lads and we knew it would be a test because they beat us at home so we got a little bit of revenge. It was a very competitive game and we cleared a couple off the line, but we created a few chances of our own and took one so I am delighted to get the win."

Hendon continued by expressing his delight at the commitment being shown by what is essentially a very young Development Squad.

"I mentioned in my pre-match talk that they were the only team to beat us but at the moment the lads' attitude is spot-on so I never had any doubts. We just need to keep repeating the performances, the work-rate and the effort we are putting in at the moment and, if we do that, positive results will continue to come."

Three points clear at the top of the table, Hendon is confident his side can qualify for the post-Christmas Elite Group Stage against the top clubs from Groups 2 and 3.

"We want to pitch ourselves against the so-called big teams like the Manchester Uniteds and the Manchester Citys but we need to get out of this league first. We are going in the right direction and I think that, if you watch the players' desire and effort, they can beat anybody because technically they are as good as anyone in the country."

Eoin Wearen and Frederic Piquionne came in to face the Trotters and Hendon was delighted with their approach to the game after missing out on selection for recent fixtures.

"It has been difficult to get in the team but Eoin has stepped in and kept a clean sheet so, as a defender, I couldn't ask for any more. Freddie started up top and he has shown a great attitude, but it is not in his make-up to come in and not try, so credit to him because he always gives everything for the team."

Missing out were Paul McCallum, who suffered an injury in training, and Leo Chambers, who is away on international duty with England Under-18s ahead of their friendly meeting with Italy in Mansfield on Wednesday evening.

Both could return for Friday's home game with Everton at Rush Green, which kicks-off at 7pm.

"I am hoping that Paul will be back for the game on Friday. He has got a pretty bad dead leg but hopefully, after a couple of days rest, he will be OK. Leo has gone away with England and plays on Wednesday, so we will see how he does in that game to see if he can play when he returns."

The Development Squad chalked up a 5-1 win at Finch Farm in the reverse fixture back in August, but Hendon and his players will be taking nothing for granted when the Toffees come to town later this week.

"After losing 5-1 against us at home earlier in the season they will be desperate to win and I am sure their manager [Alan Stubbs] will remind them of that.

"There are no easy games and the lads are not that naive to think thjs one is going to be. It will be a tough game, but if we perform as we can we will get a positive result."

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