Nick Haycock had no complaints with another hard-fought point, as West Ham United's Development Squad were held to a 1-1 Barclays Under-21 Premier League Elite Group draw by Arsenal at the Boleyn Ground.

Though the Gunners would land the first blow, Conor Henderson's 20th-minute strike was cancelled out just 12 minutes later when Nico Yennaris put Pelly Ruddock's centre through his own goal.

Both sides went close to snatching all three points late on, as Sean Maguire produced a fine stop from Arsenal stopper Emiliano Martinez, before Zak Ansah saw his drive cannon off the inside of Raphael Spiegel's right-hand upright.

Ultimately, it was to end honours even and Haycock reflected that a point apiece was probably just reward for a thoroughly entertaining contest.


"We could have won it, no doubt, but equally we could have lost it as well, so you have to say a share of the spoils was about right," Haycock told West Ham TV.

"For the last 15 minutes of the first half, we looked something like what we should be. We came in at half-time and Neil McDonald had a word with one or two players, just to liven them up a little bit. The first half was a little bit too nice. The intensity was low, there wasn't enough passion and aggression in the game.

"We wanted to get out of the traps at the start of the second half but the lights going out didn't allow us to do that. But I thought the final 20 minutes of the game were more like a London derby and you could tell by the crowd's reaction that they enjoyed the game as well.

"It was end to end. I wouldn't say I was bellowing, but as much as we wanted to win the game, equally you have got to make sure you don't lose the game. It's a fine line."

The U21s manager reserved particular praise for Irish forward Maguire, whose opportunities have been hampered somewhat by injuries since his January switch from Waterford United. The 18-year-old joined the fray with quarter-of-an-hour to play and but for a stunning stop, would have been celebrating the winner.

"Maguire came on and I was pleased with him. He looked lively. I asked him to get in behind, to run in the box and the keeper has made a world class save. In training he looks like a sharp finisher.

"Hopefully now, we can get on the training field and get some more work into him. He's had an injury and he has only just joined our programme, while the other boys have been on the programme all year. So it will take him time to come up to speed but he did himself no harm whatsoever when he came on."

Maguire and his teammates now have a fortnight to prepare for their next Elite Group outing, as they travel to West Bromwich Albion on 31 March. Having played five games in 18 days, rest and recuperation is certainly on the agenda, and Haycock conceded that the schedule has stretched his squad to its very limits.

"I never like to make excuses, but some of the boys have played five full games. Elliot Lee came off at the end just as a precaution, because he was tying up a bit and his performances have warranted that we make sure he doesn't get injured. We had players out there probably playing more minutes than we'd have wanted because they are coming back from injury.

"We've got a light squad and a young one and yet over those 18 days we've come out with three creditable draws against big clubs like Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United. It's tough to win points in the Elite League. The momentum's there after two draws against two good clubs and we'll be fresh for West Bromwich Albion away when it comes around."

West Bromwich Albion