Ian Hendon refused to criticise his Development Squad after their five-game Barclays U21 Premier League Group 1 winning streak came to an abrupt end against Reading on Friday.

An experienced Royals side put in a dominant performance to gain a 3-0 win over Hendon's team at Hogwood Park, ending a run of four straight clean sheets for the young Hammers.

Reflecting on defeat for only the second time this season, Hendon refused to dwell on disappointment after a very positive season so far.

"I would not say I was overly disappointed following Friday's result because it has come off five wins on the bounce with four clean sheets," he confirmed. "After the game I sat down and talked to the players because you cannot tear strips of them after they played against a very experienced side."

The Development Squad are still flying high at the top of Group 1, despite being beaten by a Reading XI containing first-team players Ian Harte, Alex Pearce and Adam Le Fondre.

"The lads have been going really well but we played against a side with four senior professionals and those lads have made a heck of a difference. "Their 'keeper Stuart Taylor has played in the Premier League and Alex Pearce at centre-half plays regularly in the first-team.

"Ian Harte is also very experienced and he played a big part setting up two goals, one of which was scored by Adam Le Fondre, who is a first-team goalscorer."

Hendon was unable to call upon Rob Hall, Jordan Spence and Leo Chambers, who were away on first team duty, but he does not believe their absences were a defining factor.

"I think it would have been just as big a test if the likes of Rob Hall had taken part. The team that played on Friday was the same team who beat Everton last week.

"It is about learning and they played against some top players on Friday, Reading deservedly won the game and we have no complaints about that."

Hendon is also a firm believer that losing is just as important as winning at a young age and that his players will benefit in the long run.

"Every team loses games of football - it does not matter who you are. What matters is what you take away from your loses. Like I said, you cannot account for the experience they had in their team because it had a massive impact, but we will learn from it and if we come up against an experienced side like that again we will be better."

Left-back Frazer Shaw once again put in a composed performance, as did striker Elliot Lee, as both continue their progression through the ranks of the Academy of Football.

"I thought Frazer had a good game at left-back playing only his second game in the side and Elliot has gone from the glory of last week to not having much luck this time around. That said, he was playing against Harte who has played in a Champions League semi-final, and Pearce so it was a tough old day for him that he will learn from."

Hendon now hopes his side learn from defeat in order to look forward and improve ahead of another big game against Arsenal at London Colney on Friday. The Hammers beat the Gunners 4-1 in the reverse fixture at Little Heath earlier this term, but know they will not have things as comfortable this time around.

"It was a bit of a mismatch really but on the other hand it is a big learning curve for our very young players. They have been on a good run which came to a halt on Friday but they need to dust themselves down, analyse what went wrong and move on from it.

"We were very disrupted in training last week, especially on Friday because it was a midday game and we didn't have that little extra time to prepare. However, that is not an excuse and we need to focus and make sure we are at our best on Arsenal because after beating them 4-1 they will be out for revenge."

Stoke City