Haycock hails U18s

West Ham United Under-18s coach Nick Haycock hailed his Hammers youngsters after they just missed out on a place in the semi-finals at a prestigious pre-season tournament in Belgium.

The Hammers finished third in their group at the Yale Eurofoot Tournoi in Oostduinkerke after recording two wins and one defeat on Saturday. Indeed, West Ham were only denied a place in the semi-finals on goal difference.

After beating Cercle Brugge and losing to Nordsjaelland on Friday, the Hammers beat Gent and Hajduk Split either side of losing to Anderlecht on Saturday to finish just outside the top two.

Haycock, who has taken a relatively inexperienced squad to what is an Under-19 competition, was pleased with his players' performances and application.

"We just missed out on reaching the semi-finals on goal difference so we'll play against the Dutch team Utrecht for fifth-place on Sunday," he confirmed. "We started Saturday against Gent from Belgium and we beat them 2-1. It could have been five or six because we played really well.

"Kieran Bywater put us in front from a Nathan Mavila cross. They then equalised before Elliot Lee (pictured) scored the winner from the penalty spot.

"We played a younger side against Anderlecht and lost 2-0. Again we worked hard but we just didn't quite reach the same levels.

"Our final game was against Hajduk Split from Croatia and we needed to win by six goals to get through to the semi-finals on goal difference. The team was outstanding and Elliot scored two goals to put us on course. Unfortunately, we conceded just after half-time and then Elliot missed a penalty and had a shot cleared off the line, so we missed out on goal difference.

"While we would have loved to have won the tournament, we've been delighted with the way our preparations have gone in pre-season. We have worked on team shape, pressing and creating chances in the final third. It's been a terrific tournament for us.

"We have played very, very well with a young side."