'A good test' says Keen

Kevin Keen's reserve team may have seen their winning run end this week but he was pleased with the performance against a powerful Chelsea squad.

With West Ham United fielding only Jimmy Walker and Henri Camara from the first-team ranks they lacked experience but the 3-0 defeat proved a great learning curve, not least for the five Under-18 players in the starting eleven who had played for the Academy just two days before. United had gone into the match on the back of five straight wins and were top of the Barclays Premier Reserve League but the loss has handed the initiative to new leaders Aston Villa.

With the likes of Serbian international defender Branislav Ivanovic and Steve Sidwell among the home lineup it was always going to be a difficult evening at Brentford's Griffin Park. That said, the reserve-team manager could not fault the effort shown. He said: "The boys had a right go, I was disappointed with the goals that were conceded, but they were much stronger and more physical and certainly technically very, very good. It was a difficult game."

The team, without regulars Jack Jeffery and Zavon Hines who are out on loan, and because of Freddie Sears' recent first-team call-up, were particularly light on strikers. "We're missing Zavon, JJ and Freddie Sears obviously and it was a tough night for them, but we created a few chances especially in the first half. Our boys kept going but we lacked a bit of cutting edge up front." He was particularly pleased with the performance of Junior Stanislas.

Keen also commended the Chelsea team - in particular Peru striker Claudio Pizarro and Argentinian starlet Franco Di Santo - yet said there were still positives for his men to take from the fixture, including Academy centre-backs Jordan Spence and Bondz 'Gala who had to be on their toes all evening. "It was a tough night for our back four, they worked hard but their South American centre forwards are very good athletes.

"When Pizarro kept dropping off causing problems, I think it was a good lesson for them at the back in terms of movement and strength and their all-round game, so it was good." Summing up, Keen added: "It was a good test for them to understand how good you have to be to get to the top level." West Ham United reserves are next in action at home to Derby County on Wednesday before finishing their league campaign on 21 April away to Arsenal.