Macca hails Sporting success

Neil McDonald hailed West Ham United's action-packed 3-2 Guadiana Tournament victory over Sporting Clube de Portugal as a 'brilliant exercise'.

The Hammers assistant manager witnessed a thrilling game that saw his side battle back from a goal down to lead 3-1 before resisting a late comeback from the 18-times Portuguese champions in Portimao on Monday.

After a first half largely dominated by the English side, Sporting took the lead in the third minute of added time through a disputed Diego Capel penalty given for an alleged handball against Matt Taylor.

West Ham used the perceived injustice to launch a second half onslaught. Kevin Nolan levelled with a tap-in from Modibo Maiga's flick-on after 58 minutes before Ravel Morrison put West Ham in front with a precise finish within 60 seconds.

Morrison appeared to make the game safe when he headed in Joe Cole's cross on 79 minutes, only for William Carvalho's 84th-minute goal to set up a nervous ending.

Following a surreal post-match penalty shootout held to decide final finishing positions in the event of teams ending level, which ended 4-4, McDonald spoke to West Ham TV.

"It was a brilliant exercise," said Sam Allardyce's No2. "There was a lot of physicality and we were playing against a referee who wasn't really giving much in our favour.

"The boys held strong and stuck together and we played with a fantastic tempo, which I thought was really, really good. We scored some good goals.

"We still need to work on not conceding because we didn't want to concede two goals, but all in all it was an absolutely brilliant run out. We're happy because that was the best tempo we've played with all pre-season and we're all really pleased with the game."

Like Big Sam had done before kick-off, McDonald hailed his players for their ability to play their football, despite five of them being booked by the referee and the hostile atmosphere created by the vocal Sporting fans.

"It was the highest tempo we've played at in pre-season, which was great. We have got two weeks to go until Cardiff and that was the perfect workout.

"Everybody has almost come through 90 minutes and we made some changes with Tuesday's game in mind because we must be strong against Braga because they are a Champions League team. We're looking forward to that game.

"We're really, really pleased with everybody's performance and it gives us good heart with two games to go until we start the Barclays Premier League season.

"We've played Sporting before [during our time at Bolton] and they really get stuck in and are really physical and also try to play some good football, but we held strong.

"I think they probably had only one shot from distance in the first half and then the penalty, which I don't think it was. It was rather harsh and the referee has probably given an easy one there to get everybody on his side.

"We stayed strong, as I said, and kept playing the way we try to play and to get it down and keep the ball and we scored some really good goals.

"As I keep repeating, the tempo of everything that we did was the best it has been in pre-season so that holds us in good stead with the Braga game on Tuesday and leading on to the Cardiff game on 17 August."

McDonald closed by speaking positively about the impact made by young midfielder Morrison following his return from a successful loan spell at Championship side Birmingham City last season.

The former Manchester United youngster got his career back on track under the guidance of Blues manager Lee Clark and the Hammers assistant is now hoping he will continue to make progress in a West Ham shirt.

"He has certainly grown up a touch. With all due respect, when he first came from Manchester United he thought he was the top kid and he was going to walk straight into our team and it certainly doesn't work like that.

"We sent him away to get the experience at Birmingham and he's certainly come back and he's used that experience.

"He had some experience around him as well [in midfield] with Kevin Nolan and Mark Noble pulling and pushing him, as you'd expect. If we can get him on the ball in the final third then he can produce and he's produced two goals on Monday.

"He missed his penalty at the end but that's good experience for him. He's come back in good shape, just like the rest of them."

*Tickets for Tuesday's Guadiana Tournament meeting with Portuguese Primeira Division side SC Braga will be available on the night from the Estádio Municipal de Portimão, priced at €12.50. West Ham United fans are urged to sit in the East Stand.