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2014-01-21T10:00:00 Updated 2015-02-18T22:56:24

Haycock rues narrow loss

Nick Haycock felt the Development Squad came up just short against Fulham on Monday night as they went down by a single goal at Motspur Park.

The visitors arrived hoping to inflict a first Barclays Under-21 Premier League defeat on the Cottagers but left having been beaten by Lyle Della Verde's deflected shot which found a way past Raphael Spiegel after 37 minutes.

Elliot Lee and Matthias Fanimo went close to finding an equaliser but their efforts were ultimately fruitless, leaving Haycock to ponder what might have been.

He told West Ham TV: "I thought it was a tight game. They were probably the better team in the first half. I thought they had more control of the game whilst we played off shape and on the counter-attack.

"I just thought we were naïve when we won the ball. I thought the boys were in good shape when we won it, but I don't think we opened the pitch up enough when we passed it.

"We had a chance after 60 minutes where Matthias Fanimo toe-poked it too hard over the bar, had that gone in that might have given us more confidence. As the game wore on we made a couple of substitutions to change the game slightly and I think it paid off and we could have got the equaliser near the end.

"I thought Fulham probably deserved it on the night as they controlled possession a bit more and that's the disappointing thing because it's what we're normally good at."

Defeat to the Cottagers means the Hammers are still yet to experience the winning feeling in 2014, a feeling which was a regular part of a strong first half of the season.

That strong start had put the Hammers third coming into the match against table-topping Fulham, but they were always likely to present the Development Squad with a tough challenge.

"I think they're a good team, I wouldn't necessarily say the best. I thought that we could have asked more questions of them.

"I just said to the boys in there that they can't use the excuse that they haven't had enough games because the whole of the U21 programme had a lack of games over the Christmas period.

"I didn't think that our fitness levels looked sharp enough tonight, the speed to open the game up wasn't right and tactically being not bright enough at times."

Haycock believed that some of his squad may have got carried away after the first half of the season and is keen to see them return to the things which made them successful.

"We've got two players who are involved in the first team squad tomorrow night who could've played tonight and sometimes that hurts your preparation for the game, but again it's not a moan because we want them in the first team.

"Neil McDonald gave a few of the lads a few home truths about the standards he expects. We've got an ownership programme at the Club where the players own their programme and I think one or two have just got carried away with what we did in the first part of the season.

"They need to remember what got them there in the first place and that's getting the basics right, off the pitch making sure they're watching the games back, making sure they're topping their fitness levels up and not being reminded by staff all the time is the way forward."

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