Nick Haycock was pleased with the tough examination his side were given after the Development Squad fought hard in a 2-1 defeat at Luton Town.
Two first half goals won it for the Hatters, who profited from the visitors' failure to make their chances count despite the best efforts of winger Blair Turgott, who scored the Hammers' only goal after 51 minutes.
It was the second time Haycock's team have played Skrill Premier side Luton in just under a month, with both games ending in narrow defeats, but the coach believes they provide a different type of challenge for his players.
He told West Ham TV: "For me the challenge is far greater than the U21 league and I still want to keep pressuring the Premier League to let us be part of the league pyramid and that's what this FA Commission should look at doing.
"That's real, games like this are what the boys are going to experience if they go and play in the league whether they play in the Conference, League Two or League One.
"I've got a lot of respect for John Still, Terry Harris and [development coach] Hakan Hayrettin and the work that he does here because they play organised football. They play off a shape and play fast, aggressive football and that's something which you've got to deal with and we don't encounter very often in the U21 league."
Read the minute-by-minute report from the U21s' trip to Luton Town
Turgott scored in the Hammers' 3-3 draw with Chelsea in their last league match and had already netted once when he was handed the chance to grab his team a draw after Pelly Ruddock was sent tumbling in the box by Arnaud Mendy.
He stepped up and struck his penalty low to the keeper's right but saw it well saved by Elliot Justham. Despite his side's missed opportunities, Haycock was happy with his team's response to being 2-0 down at the break.
"Coming out of the game it's not so much about the result because I got the response I wanted from the players, I didn't think there was too much wrong first half. I just thought we needed to press more and play higher up the pitch to threaten their backline a little more.
"The Luton fans here will be delighted but we should have won the game hands down in the second half with the amount of chances we had, missing a penalty and missing two sort of one-on-ones. But at the end of the day it was a very pleasing response in the second half with a very young team out."
Haycock was particularly pleased with right winger Turgott, who ran the Hatters defence ragged, creating several opportunities for his team-mates.
He said: "I've got a great support staff behind me and we're very detailed in what we do and the targets we set for the players and Blair's working towards his at the minute.
"I've talked to him a lot about Andros Townsend's performances for England and about what wide players are. Manchester United have been the foundations of good football in this country for many, many years playing with two wingers who are direct, aggressive and go at people in the final third and I think we're starting to see that from Blair.
"He was unlucky not to come off with a hat-trick and a couple of assists as well so he can be well pleased with his performance. I thought he deserved to take the penalty because I thought he was our outstanding player."
The Development Squad do not play in the Barclays U21 Premier League - which they top - again until Friday 29 November, when they welcome Leicester City to Rush Green Stadium for a 7pm kick-off. Between now and then, Haycock has arranged a number of friendly matches to keep his players fit and focused.