Hilton proud of schoolboys

Paul Hilton believes his young players will have learned a lot during the 3-2 pre-season friendly defeat at Tottenham Hotspur.

Assistant Academy Director Hilton took a very young team to Spurs Lodge for what was effectively an Under-17 fixture on Saturday. A number of U16 schoolboys were also involved, with goalkeeper Jake Larkins, midfielders Blair Turgot and Dominic Vose and winger Mathias Fanimo all impressing on Saturday alongside George Moncur and Eoin Wearen - fresh from a goal for the reserves at Thurrock on Friday night.

Spanish defender Sergio Sanchez, 16, captained the side, while up front first-year scholars Daniel Purdy and Daniel Subuola impressed with their ability and persistence.Purdy and  Turgot were both on target for the Hammers, who were slightly unfortunate to take nothing from an entertaining game.

With so many youngsters involved, and many of Hilton's squad involved in a pre-season game at Tiptree United on Wednesday, the two clubs agreed to allow rolling substitutions on a hot morning in Chigwell.

As such, Hilton replaced Callum Driver, Jack Lampe, Vose and Subuola after just 21 minutes, with Jordan Brown, Paco Craig, Jack Werndly and Wearen coming in to the action. In all, the Hammers made ten changes over the course of the 90 minutes. The substitutions had an undoubted effect on the fluency of the team's passing.

"I think it was a great test for the lads," said Hilton. "I said to them before that I intended to make lots of changes anyway because the game came on top of the game on Wednesday. So, some of them had a 20-minute blast physically and then came off and had a rest, got some fluid inside them and did a bit of stretching while I put somebody else on.

"Sometimes you can get bitty performances by making so many changes but, having said that, I thought Tottenham passed the ball better than us, especially in the second half.

"I thought we did really well in the first 20 minutes. We got the goal and could have got a couple more. After that we didn't really find the consistency we were looking for. We gave the ball away a little bit too much, especially early in the second half, which was a bit disappointing.

"Fair play to Tottenham, because they passed the ball well and worked very hard. They gave us a good test. Even though we got back in the game at 3-2 and had a couple of chances to rescue the game result-wise, I think a lot of the lads came out of the game with credit."

Hilton believes his young players will have taken a great deal from Saturday's match and has urged them to use that experience when the FA Premier Academy League season kicks of at the end of August.

"This game was an illustration to the younger ones of how quick and physical the game can be at Under-18 level," he said. "It was a good workout for them so, from that point of view, we were quite pleased with how the game went."

"In the second half we had a midfield with three schoolboys in there. Those boys are learning the game and it was a great experience for them coming into this environment at this level of football. From that point of view, it is great and we have to take that into consideration when you look at the overall result.

"We feel they're capable of playing at that level or else we wouldn't be playing them. They've got lots to think about and lots to work on and this was another step up for them."