Nick Haycock was thrilled to see his young West Ham United Development Squad side bounce back from defeat by Arsenal in the best possible way by beating Middlesbrough 2-1 at the Boleyn Ground on Friday nght.
It may have been an Under-21 fixture, but seven of Haycock's starters were in fact Under-18 players and they stepped up to the plate to secure the Hammers' first Barclays U21 Premier League victory in three attempts.
They had to battle hard for the points, as Middlesbrough's Lewis Sirrell cancelled out an opener from Jordan Brown, before Kieran Sadlier secured the win with an 83rd-minute strike.
Haycock was happy with the attitude and application shown by his side as they kept their hopes of reaching the end-of-season play-offs alive.
"I'm delighted that the boys got a victory," he said. "I said before the game that both the youth team and the Under-21 team deserve a bit of success this season for the way we've promoted young players, challenging ourselves as coaches and the players moving on to the next level.
"We started the game with seven youth team players on Friday and four of those were first years, and what a great experience it is for them to play out there.
"Even though we talk about development it's lovely to win football matches too and there were good things on Friday and things we need to work on. That's what you get when you have an inexperienced team.
"I thought we could have had more control on the game in the second half in particular - their goal gave them the impetus to push - but had Reece Burke's chance gone in to make it 2-0 we'd probably have seen a bit more composure.
"They rocked us a little bit, but again the boys showed a great attitude to keep working and they got their just rewards with the winner at the end.
"The will to win was there for all to see and that's pleasing. Everything that Steve Potts has been doing with them in the youth team helps, it's created that understanding of how to win a football match."
Jordan Brown's goal was his third of the week for the Development Squad, following a brace at Arsenal, and Haycock is pleased with the way the first-year scholar has adjusted to the demands of Under-21 football.
He continued: "I've been impressed with Jordan. His finish for the goal was fantastic, he kept on the move and banged it in the bottom corner with the instep when you sometimes see players go for it with the laces and blaze them over the bar.
"The most pleasing thing was that I thought against Arsenal the bits in and around the box were a bit untidy and he let the centre half pinch it, whereas on Friday for the winner you saw him get the body shape right, roll the defender and then he's done the right thing by putting it back across goal.
"He'll only learn by playing at this level and he looks more than comfortable."
Victory leaves the Hammers still in the hunt for a top four finish and Haycock is eyeing a strong end to the campaign.
He added: "The lads have got the ambition still to finish in the top four and make the play-offs. The main thing is that we finish in the top half because it goes into two leagues next year, and it's important that we're in the top one for the quality of the opposition we'll play.
"Hopefully we can do that, and if we take it game-by-game I set them the target of winning four from four. We've won one now, so with three games to go let's see where it takes us."
Haycock's side return to action on Monday 7 April, when they travel to Leyland to take on Bolton Wanderers.