Dev Squad too strong for Dons

The Development Squad completed a sensational comeback against AFC Wimbledon by coming from 2-0 down to win 4-2 on Saturday afternoon.

Freddie Piquionne led the charge - scoring a nine minute hat-trick at the beginning of the second half after a frustrating opening period. Speaking after the game, development squad manager Ian Hendon praised his side for their response after a disappointing start.

"We started a little slow and found ourselves two goals down, but after that we responded well and created a host of good opportunities.

"We came out second half and took our chances, playing a lot better especially at the back so I'm really pleased with the turnaround."

Hendon stated last week that he wanted to see his side to show more creativity and they did just that with Rob Hall and Blair Turgott both impressing after a spell away with the first team in Germany last week.

"I got a lot of the lads back this week who have been away in Germany like Blair and Rob, we also had Jordan Spence in the side today and players like that only add to the strength to my squad.

"That showed today playing against a very good team in AFC Wimbledon and getting a few of the older lads back definitely helps," said Hendon. "Last week we had first and second year scholars, we were still quite young today but the lads did very well."

Turgott got the Hammers' final goal, rounding off an exceptionally hard working performance, by holding off left-back Warren Cummings before firing the ball past Steve Collins in the home side's goal.

Another player who stood out for the Hammers was keeper Jake Larkin who made a string of impressive stops, much to the delight of his manager.

"Jake did exceptionally well today, he made some very good saves in the first half when we were very much up against it.

"His distribution up to the front men was also very good as was his kicking; I'm very pleased for him."

Hendon also praised first year scholar Courtney Homan who put in a solid defensive display.

"Whilst we're talking about defence I want to mention Courtney who came in as a first year scholar and played extremely well."

Freddie Piquionne put in a man of the match performance, and Hendon is hopeful the Frenchman can now kick on as the season unfolds.

"Freddie has shown his quality today and I think he would be the first to admit that he hasn't done that enough in recent games, unluckily for Wimbledon they've caught him on a good day."

The development squad will participate in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League this season with a trip to Reading first on the agenda. Hendon is confident that his pre-season preparations will ensure the side are ready to hit the ground running.

"Pre-season is all about being fit, ready and motivated for the start of the season and we showed signs today that everything is starting to come together.

"I had around eight or nine of my players out on loan at once last year and that won't happen this year.

"Some players will leave and they need to in order to gain valuable experience but they will also gain that here now we have fixtures of our own."

Next up for Hendon and his side is a trip to Northampton on Tuesday night before rounding off their pre-season schedule against Dagenham and Redbridge.

The development squad will then kick off their league campaign against Reading on the 17 August, which is followed by a trip to Everton and round two of the Capital One Cup.