Dyer delighted

Some goalless draws are better than others. For West Ham United's reserve-team manager Alex Dyer, this week's Barclays Premier Reserve League stalemate at Aston Villa was one of the best.

Not only did his young side play well against the three-time defending league champions, but Dyer was also able to welcome back striker Zavon Hines after eleven months out with a serious knee injury.

Hines and his team-mates impressed at Hinckley United FC's De Montfort Park, with every single one of them producing the goods for their manager.

It was the England Under-21 striker, though, whose performance left Dyer with a smile on his face and looking forward to giving him an extended run-out, possibly alongside Junior Stanislas on his way back from a groin injury, in next Wednesday night's reserves visit of Chelsea to Bishop's Stortford FC.

"I was very, very pleased with the boys. I was obviously disappointed that we didn't win the game, but I was pleased with the performance and the attitude.

"There was some plusses - obviously Zavon playing and getting 30 minutes and really working hard when he came on to the pitch. To be fair, a lot of hard work has gone on before that with the physios. Tom Smith and the other physios at the club have worked hard with him and Zav has also worked his heart out for eleven months.

"Zav works hard every day and it showed on the night. He came on and gave us that little spark that we needed and he should have had a penalty. It was a definite, definite penalty but the ref didn't give it.

"Since I have met the lad - it must be five years now - he gives you that enthusiasm every day that he wants to come to training and work. He brings a little buzz around the place. He comes in and gives 100 per cent and is nice and lively and wants to learn every day and get better.

"He has had a taste of the first team and he wants more of it. He's willing to work and fight for it. He's not one of those who thinks it's going to be easy it's going to get back in. He works hard every day. He gets angry and beats himself up at times when things don't go well, but that's the mark of a good professional.

"You make your own breaks in life and he deserves one because he's put the work in. It would be nice to see him around the first team and it'll make us all happy when he gets back in and is scoring goals."

Goalkeeper Marek Stech, defenders Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson and Winston Reid and midfield debutant Matthias Fanimo - the England U17 winger - also drew praise from Dyer.

"It was good to see Holmar play 90 minutes. Matthias was excellent, I thought. The young lad has come in and shown good appetite and worked hard for the team and produced some good stuff during the game. He looked a threat at times and he can only get better.

"I thought Winston Reid looked very good, too. Marek made one outstanding save and that was it."

Had it not been for one fine Andy Marshall save from Frank Nouble and referee Matt McLaughlin's decision not to award Hines a late penalty, Dyer could easily have been celebrating victory over the defending champions.

Under manager Kevin MacDonald, who spent a spell as caretaker first-team manager earlier this season, Villa have become a reserve-team force in recent seasons, winning titles and producing countless players for the first-team squad.

"It was a good all-round performance and I'm happy because Aston Villa are the benchmark in this league. They always do well. I had a good chat with Kevin MacDonald before the game and told him I thought he deserved the first-team job.

"He has won the reserve league three times and brought players through and I don't know what more you can do to get a job. They come through here and his drive and ambition to get them playing every week is there. I told our lads before the game that we needed to do the same."