Dyer aiming high

Alex Dyer praised the club's Academy professionals after a youthful side beat Stoke City 1-0 to climb to third in the FA Premier Academy League table.

A second-minute goal from Northern Ireland youth international Daniel Kearns was enough to see off the Potters in West Ham United's final home reserve fixture of the season at Bishop's Stortford.

Coach Dyer was delighted with the performance of 17-year-old Kearns and the other members of his young team, which included nine teenagers alongside Hungary Under-21 goalkeeper Peter Kurucz and striker Zavon Hines. Hungary Under-19 forward Balint Bajner, midfielder Conor Okus and Colombia-born winger Cristian Montano were among those to shine on Tuesday evening.

"I was pleased," said Dyer, "The boys formed a young side and played very well again. We lost our way a bit in the second half, but overall well happy with the performance."

The only goal of the game arrived when Kearns latched on to Bajner's pass before expertly slotting past Stoke goalkeeper Tom Harrison. The pair, as well as Hines and Montano, caused the visiting defence huge problems with their pace and intelligent movement.

"The front three looked sharp. Kearnsy has sgot bags of ability and he got himself in the box and Balint did very well with it and to be fair Balint during the game set a few of the lads up - Zavon and Cristian I think it was - so Balint did well. Kearnsy was brilliant to be fair, made his run into the box and finished it well."

Having fallen behind, Stoke did not give up the fight, but did not possess the quality to find an equaliser against a West Ham defence expertly led by the imposing Bondz 'Gala.

"Stoke were very dogged and as the game went on they got more into it and they stopped us from playing. We lost our way a little bit and stopped passing and moving and doing the things that we were doing in the first half. When you go a goal ahead earlier on, it's very difficult for seasoned pros, let alone the young lads. They have to learn the game and have to learn that when things went bad for them, they had to go back to basics and keep the ball. It was a good learning curve for us."

Tuesday's success lifted the Hammers above Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur into third place in the table. Both clubs have games in hand on Dyer's side, but the coach is hopeful of picking up maximum points in West Ham's closing two away games of the season at West Bromwich Albion and Portsmouh to secure a top-two finish.

"The lads, since they've come in the side, especially the second years have dug in and matured a lot very quickly and especially as this was our last home game tonight it was nice to finish off with a win. To be third in the league when usually it has been a chore with the reserves, this year it has been very good. Hopefully if we can win the next two games we might finish second or third in the league, which would be good for West Ham United."

Having completed their complement of home fixtures, Dyer thanked the staff at Bishop's Stortford FC for their warm hospitality throughout the season. West Ham played six of their nine home games at Woodside Park, beating West Brom, Arsenal, Chelsea and Stoke and losing to Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa.

"From the start of the season we have come here and they have looked after us. Especially, Pete Williams [kit man] comes here early and they give him cups of tea and it's a nice atmosphere. We enjoy playing there and our record there has been good, I think maybe we've only lost two games here so we like coming here and hopefully we can come here in the future."