The reserve team lost 3-0 to Coventry City
at Little Heath on Tuesday afternoon, in a
game that was closer than the scoreline suggests.
Goals either side of the break from striker Craig Reid and one in the final minute from Stuart Wall saw off Kevin Keen's young side, who put up a brave fight against stronger opposition.
The game was originally due to be played on Tuesday evening at Dagenham & Redbridge's Glyn Hopkin Stadium. However, after drawing at Tamworth in the FA Trophy on Saturday, Daggers were forced to host their replay instead, and our reserve clash was switched to our Youth Academy headquarters.
Kevin Keen fielded a young side against the Sky Blues, with just goalkeeper Stephen Bywater and winger Hogan Ephraim possessing first team experience, while eight of the starting line-up had appeared for the under-18s in Saturday's win against Crystal Palace.
Hammers had the better of the early exchanges, as Liam White headed over from Ephraim's free-kick and David Cowley dragged a volley wide, but the visitors began to get into their stride as the game wore on and, on the half-hour mark, Reid had the ball in the net from close range.
Thankfully, the linesman's raised flag rescued Hammers, but it was only a temporary reprieve as, just two minutes later, Reid found the net legitimately. White's slip let in the Coventry striker, who coolly slipped the ball past Bywater.
Keen made two changes at half-time, bringing on Densal Davidson and Lee Hales in place of strikers Zavon Hines and Jack Jeffery. Just two minutes after the restart, Hammers should have been level when Davidson's low cross found French midfielder Sekou Baradji, who shot straight at goalkeeper Tuffey from just a few yards out.
That miss proved costly as, just five minutes later, Coventry doubled their advantage. After skipper Darren Blewitt had been booked for a late challenge, the free-kick was floated in to the penalty area and headed on to Reid, who had time to chest the ball down and volley home his second from six yards out.
Bywater made a superb point-blank save from Hildreth three minutes later to keep his side in with a shout, but Hammers just couldn't find a way through the well-organised Sky Blues defence, and were restricted to a handful of hopeful long shots.
With 10 minutes remaining, Keen changed the attacking approach by bringing on Irish youngster Lorcan Fitzgerald and reverting to a back three. The switch added some impetus to Hammers' display, but still they couldn't find a way back into the game.
In stoppage time, Coventry broke away on the counter-attack and, after forcing a free-kick wide on the left, the ball found its way through to defender Wall, who prodded home a third at the far post to signal our first defeat in five games.
Kevin Keen said afterwards: "It was a disappointing result and a below-par performance from our lads. We had quite a young side out there today, but so did Coventry, and they were just a bit stronger than us in the key areas.
"I thought it was a closely-fought game and we had a great chance to get back in it when Sekou missed a great chance just after half-time. Overall, the difference was that they took their chances and we didn't."
Hammers: Bywater; Henry (Fitzgerald 80), White, Tomkins,
Blewitt; Ephraim, Cowley, Baradji, Welsh; Jeffery (Hales 46), Hines
(Davidson 46). Subs unused: Andrews, Kemal.