Nick Haycock is not about to give up on his pursuit of a top-three Barclays Under-21 Premier League Elite Group finish after the Development Squad held runaway leaders Tottenham Hotspur to a compelling 1-1 draw at the Boleyn Ground.
Brazilian frontman Wellington Paulista headed the Hammers in front after just 16 minutes, before Republic of Ireland youth international Kenneth McEvoy levelled matters seven minutes before the interval.
Though both sides spurned several opportunities thereafter, an entertaining affair would end a point apiece, with Haycock rightly looking upwards as the Elite Group heads into its latter stages.
"There are four games to go and I've set the challenge to the boys to have a real go at trying to get this third place," Haycock told West Ham TV.
"Other teams will drop points and if we can amass as many points as we can in those four games, it will give us a competitive total to challenge that third place. That's in our hands and we've got to go about the games in the same manner as we did at the start of the Elite Group and we'll see where that takes us."
Haycock was understandably impressed with his side's showing against a Spurs side scoring goals for fun in recent weeks and reckons it's further evidence of his young charges' capacity to compete with the very best at this level.
"That was a pleasing performance, particularly as we'd not played for three weeks," he added. "I always knew the start was important and I thought we got about them well. Tottenham play a patient, passing style with good technical players and it was about stopping them then obviously trying to hurt them.
"In the first 20-25 minutes, we were deservedly winning 1-0 and at the minimum we should have come in at 2-0. But we've conceded on the counter-attack and I felt we lost our way towards the end of the first-half.
"Half-time was about reorganising and looking at what we were doing well and to keep doing that. We started the second half the better team and they probably finished the game the stronger.
"But in terms of chances, I think it was pretty even. Jake Larkins has made three great saves but equally so has their keeper. Overall, we feel slightly disappointed that we haven't got three points.
"It should give the lads lots of confidence, looking at the last run of games we've had against the bigger teams, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United. We've competed and we look more at home at this level."
Meanwhile, the U21s boss was pleased with the contribution of his two senior frontmen, with Paulista, in particular, desperately unfortunate not to add to his first-half strike.
"Wellington took his goal well and he was unlucky. On another night he could have come away with a hat-trick.
"To be fair to Modibo, I explained to him before the game that these lads want you to run around for them up there and show the potent threat he was in France. We asked him to hold the ball up for us, threaten in the air, in behind and cause the backline problems. In fairness to him, he did that for us."