'It was a fantastic victory'

Nick Haycock was delighted to end the Barclays Under-21 Premier League season with a win after watching the Development Squad come from behind to beat Sunderland 2-1.

The Hammers were incensed when the Black Cats were awarded a first half penalty as Dan Potts was penalised for a foul on Mikael Mondron, although the centre-half appeared to have played the ball. The striker picked himself up to score the resulting penalty as the hosts took a half-time lead.

Josh Cullen slammed home a deserved equaliser after 56 minutes before Tom McNamee planted a header beyond his own goalkeeper in the last minute of the match to leave Haycock toasting a hard-earned win.

He told West Ham TV: "It was a fantastic victory in the end and I was pleased with the boys. For 70 minutes of the game I thought we were the dominant team.

"You always have slight concerns being so dominant and them counter-attacking. They did have a counter-attack and Sam [Howes] made a great save and that can't be forgotten.

"He's a young 16-year-old who's stepped in and that's been the ethos of the Club this season - promoting young players and challenging them so that their in a good state of affairs going into the Elite League next season."

Sebastian Lletget captained the side and produced a strong performance in the middle of the park alongside Cullen and Danny Whitehead to build the platform for victory.

Dan Potts is the young Hammers' regular captain but Haycock explained that the defender had no qualms as he looked to extract more authority from Lletget by handing him the arm band.

"I did that just to see whether I could get a bit more drive out of him. I spoke to Dan and by no means did I take the captaincy off him, Dan will captain the team whether he's got the arm band or not.

"I just wanted to give Sebby that extra bit of responsibility and I think that helped him. He is a good footballer, he knows what he needs to work on and he needs to go away for the summer and come back for the final year of his contract to show what he's actually capable of.

"He does it in fits and spells in a game, but he needs to realise he can dominate a game because he's got fantastic footballing ability, but the ability without the desire and the responsibility, it won't get him over the line. If he can develop that, then we're hopeful he could be one that could push on."

Victory against the Black Cats secures the Hammers' spot in the top eleven of the league, and ensures the Club will be in the top division of U21 football next season.

Haycock was pleased with how the season has unfolded and believes the Development Squad are in a good position heading into next season.

"It's been a good season. We've got a player development philosophy here at the football club and obviously towards the top end of it you try and have the player development philosophy in and around winning football matches.

"I think Josh Cullen epitomises what we're about as a football club. A young player being stretched at the next level, putting in good performances, showing ability, desire, responsibility and that's what we're looking for all the way through.

"I'm delighted he finished the season with a goal that would have got us in the Elite League."