Kevin Keen has paid tribute on WHUTV to the "super spirit" in his reserve side after another fine victory - this time at Tottenham Hotspur.
Despite going a goal down in a competitive contest played at the Brisbane Road home of Leyton Orient on Monday, Keen's side battled back and won it through two Freddie Sears goals either side of a Dean Ashton effort. The 3-1 victory allied with a 1-1 draw for Reading at Aston Villa, saw the Hammers take second place in the southern section of the Barclays Premier Reserve League, two points behind Villa and three ahead of Reading.
Keen said: "We have got a set of young players here at the moment who will die for the club. That's from Jack Collison to Tony Stokes who are a little bit older in midfield right down to the younger ones - Freddie Sears, Zavon Hines, Ashley Miller and Jordan Spence. There is a real determination to do well for the club and for themselves. There is a super spirit in this reserve team and, when you look at the youth team results as well, things are bubbling along quite nicely.
"Whatever happens, they are a getting a good education and they are a good set of lads. We are pleased at the moment." Keen also praised the attitude of his senior pros against Spurs - namely Jimmy Walker, John Pantsil, Jonathan Spector, Bobby Zamora and Ashton. "Whenever I have the senior players, I am always pleased because we have got a set of players that will do the right thing at the right time. They will work hard and give it a go. There is a lot of clubs where perhaps that is not the case."
Talking of experienced performers, the substitute goalkeeper was coach Ludek Mikloso after young shot-stopper Adam Street pulled out through illness as did Bondz 'Gala. Like Keen himself, Miklosko - who is now 47 and served the club to distinction in the 1990s - is still registered as a player to cover for such situations and, with tongue in cheek, Keen said: "We had Ludo on the bench and if Jimmy had had a problem I would have had full confidence in the old man to do well."
Tottenham had a youthful side on view but Keen paid tribute to the ability of the Spurs youngsters. "In the first half Tottenham played very well," he said. "They are a young team, they pass the ball very well, were technically very able and they gave us a real tough test. Having said that we had two or three real good chances. We went one nil down but then little Freddie came up with a goal that give us one-all at half-time, which we were happy with."
That Sears equaliser told much about the 18-year-old's predatory skills. With barely a chance in the first half, he seized on a ball with his back to goal before turning in an instant and flashing a shot into the net. He moved inside from the right wing in the second half and, after making the second for Ashton to score from close range, raced away from midfield beyond three defenders before slotting in with full confidence.
It was his 24th goal in 23 games at U18 and reserve level this season. Keen said: "He is a talented lad, we said it last week. He is a good lad, he is going to work hard. He is a good sniffer and he does score goals out of nothing and he scores good goals as well like his second one which was a good finish."