West Ham United's Under-18s got their pre-season campaign off to an exciting start as Paul Hilton's side drew 2-2 at Tiptree United.
George Moncur's 86th-minute equaliser was enough to earn the Hammers a share of the spoils following an end-to-end encounter at Chapel Road.
A goalless first half featured few goalscoring opportunities, with Jack Werndly coming closest to hitting the net. However, the midfielder's volley was turned aside by home goalkeeper Ruthers.
Proceedings livened up considerably after the break on a pleasant evening in north Essex, and it was no surprise when the opening goal of the night arrived on 55 minutes.
What was a surprise, however, was the identity of the scorer. Sergio Sanchez burst forward from right-back before latching on to substitute Mathias Fanimo's through ball and smashing a rising, angled shot past Ruthers.
Tiptree's response was immediate. Nelson, only sent on as a substitute following Sanchez's goal, scored within a minute, capitalising on a loose clearance to slot into the roof of the net from close-range.
The Jam-Makers looked like making toast of the Hammers five minutes later when Lee Underwood put the home side ahead. The striker showed great composure to race on to Lee Owen's pass and clip the ball over the advancing Deniz Mehmet.
West Ham looked to have run out of ideas and could have fallen further behind, but Underwood's 85th-minute strike cannoned back off the crossbar with Mehmet well beaten.
However, Hilton's youngsters refused to cave in and were rewarded when Moncur - the son of former Hammers midfielder John - picked up the ball and smashed it past substitute goalkeeper Belcher from fully 25 yards.
There was still time for another pair of anxious moments in the West Ham defence, with replacement stopper Jake Larkins tipping Owen's shot over and Bristol heading the resulting corner against the far post, but the visitors held on for a well-earned and thoroughly deserved draw.
Hilton will have been pleased with the application and attitude shown by his young squad, who stuck to their principles of fluent, passing football on a beautiful playing surface.
Tiptree, too, deserve credit for their approach and style of play.
The U18s return to action on Saturday morning, when they make the short trip across London to face their Tottenham Hotspur counterparts. A number of the players used on Wednesday evening could also be involved in Friday night's West Ham United XI friendly at Thurrock.