Dyer wants reserves response

Alex Dyer was in philosophical mood after watching his West Ham United reserve team lose their 100 per cent home record to a strong Fulham side on Tuesday evening.

Goals in either half from Hungary midfielder Zoltan Gera and Wayne Brown saw the visitors secure a comfortable 2-0 Barclays Premier Reserve League victory at the Boleyn Ground. The Hammers - who had won all four of their previous home fixtures - were second-best for long periods against an experienced Cottagers line-up including six full internationals. Afterwards, Dyer admitted the visitors had been full value for their success.

"It was very disappointing. I wanted to keep the run going and the performances going. The lads have done very well lately but it wasn't meant to be. We had a few senior boys in the side but it was hard. They got the goals at the right times and they had some experienced players as well and then sat back in tried to hit us on the break. Overall, they were better than us on the night.

"They were sharper from the start than us. Thy kind of controlled the game and played at their speed and we really couldn't get near them at times. Certain boys plugged away and worked hard but I'm disappointed because I'm trying to get that winning mentality that the first-team has got and install it in the reserves. It was there against Fulham but we'll go again next time and keep plugging away in training and we'll start again."

Dyer has two weeks to work with his players ahead of a pair of difficult-looking away fixtures at Stoke City on 4 February and West Bromwich Albion on 16 February. The coach has called on the players involved to rediscover their winning touch when they return to action next month.

"We've got two hard games coming up at Stoke and West Brom. I don't know who's going to play between one week and the next but they're a good bunch of lads and whoever we put out, they know they haven't performed [against Fulham] but there is a good attitude at the club and I'm sure they'll put it right next time."

Dyer had namesake Kieron Dyer, Jonathan Spector, Hayden Mullins and Luis Boa Morte in his starting eleven, but chose to hand the captain's armband to 19-year-old James Tomkins. The coach said the decision was a reward for the hard work and promise shown by the academy graduate, who has recently returned from a loan spell at Coca-Cola Championship side Derby County.

"James is a West Ham boy. He always trains and works hard and it was just a reward for him. He'd been away from the club when he went on loan and has come back and done well. It was nice as a centre-half to have those other senior boys in front of him and hopefully it made him feel better and picks him up a bit. He did well."

Another bonus was the return from injury of striker Zavon Hines. The youngster has been sidelined since the pre-season with a knee injury, having impressed with a glut of goals in friendly matches, and looked sharp and eager against Billy McKinlay's team.

The coach added that England midfielder Dyer was withdrawn after 38 minutes as a precaution with tightness in his calves. The 30-year-old has recently returned from 17 months out injured after suffering a broken leg in a Carling Cup tie at Bristol Rovers in August 2007.