Matthew Fry had a night of mixed emotions on Tuesday as the reserves went down to a battling 4-2 defeat at West Bromwich Albion.
Fry converted Danny Kearns' free-kick with nine minutes to go to give the Hammers a glimmer of hope on a rainy night in the Midlands, but an experienced Baggies side managed to hold on to their two goal lead to pick up their fourth win of the campaign. For the 18-year-old Fry, though, playing against a host of experienced Premier League and international players was an extremely useful experience.
"It was difficult out the there and they had some decent players," Fry said. "We knew it was going to be difficult. We tried to get out there and display our own game. We were a little bit shy in the first half and they dominated us that little bit. We went in at half time and Alex [Dyer] dug a few of us out. We were a little bit better in the second half but disappointed we didn't get the result.
"For my goal, it was a great low ball in by Danny Kearns and I've just got across my marker and slotted past Dean Kiely. Playing at the back you hope to get at least one a season and luckily I got out there and did that."
Fry has spent the majority of the season playing for the Under-18s, where he captained the side while playing as centre-back. But over the past few months he has made the step up to the reserves where manager Alex Dyer has used him as a left back and he has grown in stature with every match.
"I've said a few times playing at reserve team level is a big step up from youth team football and I just love doing it and playing against players like that. I feel I'm improving with every game I play. On a personal note, it's also good to play at a ground like this so it was great for me.
"I've been used to playing centre half all season, but to get out on pitch I'll play anywhere so I don't mind it too much."
The reserves conclude their campaign at Portsmouth next Tuesday and Fry hopes to end would will have been a great season personally on a high.
"For the first year I was hampered by a lot of injuries so to come out this season and play as much football as I have has been brilliant for me. I've developed and come along a lot.
"Next season, I want a bit of pre-season to try to impress Gianfranco Zola and get in his line of sight for the season to come. That's what I want to do and that's where I want to be."