Haycock reflects on Braintree loss

Nick Haycock says his West Ham United Development Squad will continue to learn from their experiences following a 3-2 pre-season defeat at Conference National club Braintree Town.

The Hammers played the better football for long periods at The Amlin Stadium and led 2-1 just after half-time, only for naive defending to allow Alan Devonshire's side to snatch the victory.

The U21s have now played three pre-season matches, beating Swansea City 4-0 before being edged out 3-2 by both an experienced Wolverhampton Wanderers team and now a strong Braintree squad.

Paul McCallum and Kieran Sadlier scored two fine goals for Haycock's youngsters on Wednesday, but the Development Squad coach admitted his players still have work to do if they are to earn a first-team opportunity.

"It'll always be about performances in pre-season and you are looking for the work you do on the training field to transmit to the pitch come matchday," he explained. "As you go through pre-season you tighten up and fine-tune certain things.

"At Braintree, I don't think we passed the ball as well as we did against Wolves, where we were excellent at times. We conceded from set plays against Wolves and we worked on that this week, but sometimes young teams make naive decisions and there is some sloppiness in there.

"We played against a team that finished ninth in the Conference and play a certain type of football where they are effective. We knew how they were going to play and so it was about us dealing with that and then coming back with our game. In fits and spells, we got our game going, but there were some good things, some sloppy things and some naive things.

"That's what the training field is for and, come Southend on Monday, we're hoping to put some of that right."

McCallum scored his fourth goal in four pre-season appearances following fine work from Blair Turgott and George Moncur to level just before half-time. Sadlier then stole the show with a fantastic individual strike two minutes after the break, only for Braintree to take advantage of two slack pieces of defending to snatch the win.

"They were fantastic goals and that's the disappointment because Kieran Sadlier's effort should have been the winning goal. Because they played 4-4-2, we said to our three midfielders to be a bit braver and try to get goal-side of their midfield and dominate them in the middle and release the wide players.

"We felt we had quality in the wide areas to make goalscoring chances with passes in behind full-backs etcetera. Kieran has that ability and I don't know if we gave him enough of the ball.

"We had a lot of possession, but what they have to learn is that it's not just about keeping the football. You've got to work the ball to try to carve open the opposition and we weren't as good as we were against Swansea and Wolves."

With the first-team squad and staff away in Germany, Haycock said he would be reporting back to Sam Allardyce, Neil McDonald and Ian Hendon. Likewise, the Development Squad coach has an interest in how the likes of Sebastian Lletget, Elliot Lee, Pelly Ruddock, Danny Whitehead and Dan Potts are faring.

"Neil and Ian particularly ask me for reports on the games and I speak to them on a daily basis to see how our lads are doing out there. They also want to know how these boys are doing because, at the end of the day, with the Financial Fair Play rules, it will always be about trying to promote from within to strengthen the squad.

"Sebby has already done well against Colchester and hopefully he'll have had a good ten days in Germany. Elliot is out there, Pelly is out there and Danny has been brought into the Club and gone with the first team. Dan Potts has been on the fringes of it for about 18 months.

"It's great because they'll get more experience there than they would with us. Other clubs would put their strongest team out at Under-21 level but the whole philosophy of West Ham United is to challenge the player correctly. Some young players need a loan move and some need more Under-21 football.

"If we win a league or cup, that is second to the objective of challenging the players. That is something fully endorsed by Sam. I'm looking forward to the challenge. As you can see from the way Sam runs the Football Club, it's about a team of people. I don't look at it as me running the Under-21s - we coach players through the phase of between 17 and 21 and it's up to me and Steve to polish them.

"Sam has always had a big backroom team and I can see why because he sets everyone individual physical, tactical and psychological targets. He has a fantastic team of people behind him and we're a collective.

"As a group, we are looking forward to the season and pushing the players on to that next level. It's a fantastic club to work for."