Assistant manager Mark Phillips was pleased his three departing youth players got the send off they deserved after the U18s fought back to draw 3-3 at Arsenal.
Joe Powell, Anthony Scully and Jahmal Hector-Ingram will all be too old to play U18s football next season but they contributed to help the Hammers end the season on a positive note.
Scully scored the decisive equaliser at the end of an entertaining match where West Ham, again, would have been disappointed if they had not left London Colney with at least a point.
“We had a poor first half and could have been two or three down,” admitted Phillips. “We got ourselves back in it at 1-1 and in the second half, forget the scores, our commitment and effort in general play was quite rightly rewarded at the end.
“Our resilience and commitment as a team, which we showed in the second half, is excellent. We keep going all the way through to the end, which is good. It was three of the boys’ last game for the U18s and it’s nice that they leave on a happy note.”
Head coach Steve Potts made three changes to the side that drew with Manchester City two weeks ago. Regular U23s stopper Nathan Trott made his comeback from injury and Ajibola Alese and Scully returned to the fold.
Both sides had chances in the opening stages with the Hammers’ best effort coming from left winger Rosaire Longelo who cut in and forced a save from Alex Crean.
Arsenal began to assert themselves on the match as the first half wore on and took the lead ten minutes before half-time. A loose ball fell to Donyell Malen in the penalty area and he finished ruthlessly past Trott.
But the Hammers got back into the contest just before half-time via a familiar source. Scully slipped the ball into Hector-Ingram’s path and the No9 was upended in the box, which resulted in Korrey Henry sending the keeper the wrong way from the penalty spot to equalise.
The Hammers were urged to improve in the second half but it was Arsenal who regained the advantage. Ben Wells brought down Malen in the box and Joe Willock sent Trott the wrong way to make it 2-1.
The Gunners added to their lead in scrappy circumstances when Danny Ballard squeezed home from a corner, but the Hammers responded again 15 minutes from time when Powell’s cross was controlled and finished brilliantly by England U16 captain Alese.
And the visitors were rewarded for their efforts in the dying embers – a sweeping move resulted in substitute Bernardo Rosa winning the ball back in midfield. He fed fellow sub Yiannis Constantinou who returned the pass back to the Brazilian with Scully screaming for the ball on the left hand side. Rosa found the Irishman and he dispatched the ball into the bottom corner from 25 yards.
The deserved comeback was complete and it left Phillips pleased overall with how the season had panned out.
“We had a great start to the season but dropped off and were slightly fortunate to make the top four,” he added.
“But since we’ve been in the Merit Group, apart from the Chelsea game, we’ve been very good and very competitive. We could have won several of the games we didn’t.
“I think the Merit Group has been good for us in terms of development, so overall it’s been a really good season.”