Royals win delights Haycock

Nick Haycock was full of praise for the Development Squad's display after two fine goals secured a well-deserved victory against Reading on Monday night.

A second consecutive Barclays Under-21 Premier League win arrived thanks to Elliot Lee's wonder goal and a swift counter-attack which was finished off with aplomb by Blair Turgott.

Raphael Spiegel also played his part with two excellent saves to thwart the Royals' attack and leave his manager more than satisfied with his side's performance.

He told West Ham TV: "I thought we thoroughly deserved the win. The shape, the energy, the desire and the commitment was what I know they're capable of.

"We said at half-time at 1-0 up, 'how are you going to lose the game?' which might sound a backward way of saying it, but it makes them realise that defending deep might cost us, not organising for set-pieces might have cost us and lapses in concentration.

"An unlucky ricochet fell to the boy and he's (Spiegel) pulled off a great save and then a worldie strike that's hit the bar. Other than that, we limited them to minimal chances and I always felt we had the quality to score a second goal."

The Hammers' second goal arrived with three minutes left on the clock as the visitors' swift counter-attack led to Matthias Fanimo delivering a cross for Turgott to wrap up all three points.

Striker Lee had set the U21s on course for victory after 43 minutes, when he watched Danny Whitehead's lofted pass drop over his shoulder before planting a tremendous volley in the opposite corner of the net.

Whilst the frontman's goal was a show stopper, Haycock was delighted with his all-round performance.

"Elliot's goal was outstanding," he exclaimed. "I said to Elliot tonight that I wanted him to look like a No9, running in behind, getting to the back post and getting across the front post.

"The thing that I hope won't go unnoticed was his sheer effort and work-rate. Pressing from the front, he set us off, he set the tempo for the team, he scored and also contributed to the second goal as well.

"He's a goalscorer. Last season we worked with him playing from a wide position, but he is a centre-forward on his day and I think that he looked like a No9 tonight.

"In the last few weeks he's been a bit isolated at times but that's a little bit to do with him and a little bit to do with the team. Tonight, you saw Elliot at his best."

Victory against the Royals follows a 1-0 success against Southampton and has boosted the side's hopes of making it into the top four, with those top four teams taking part in the end of season play-offs.

The three points also meant the Club had enjoyed a clean sweep of wins over the past few days with the first team, U18s and now the U21s earning victories and Haycock feels the atmosphere around the Club is at its best at present.

"The Club's in a good state at the moment with the first team performances and the U21s and the youth team.

"I think it's a good place to be, it always has been, but when you win football matches it makes it that little bit happier as well."