- West Ham United Premier League 2 were 2-1 winners at Wolves on Monday in their play-off semi-final
- The victory will see them face Newcastle for a spot in Division 1 next season
- Assistant manager Liam Manning praised captain Declan Rice as he led the team to victory in the midlands
West Ham United Premier League 2 assistant boss Liam Manning praised skipper Declan Rice for an outstanding display as he led the U23s to a play-off semi-final victory at Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The Hammers scored twice late on through Jahmal Hector-Ingram and Martin Samuelsen at Molineux to seal their place in the final.
They will face Newcastle United – for a fourth time this season and a third at St. James’ Park – for a spot in Premier League 2 Division 1 next campaign and Manning stated the performance was the result of a season’s worth of hard work.
He said: “It’s the icing on the cake for a really tough season to get that result. It’s good to get rewards like that at the end of the season.
“It was an extremely difficult game. Wolves are well organised, they’re effective in what they do, they’re physical, so we’re delighted with the way the boys applied themselves. We kept moving it really well, and the boys do that every single day.
“I thought Declan Rice was outstanding at the back. The front two were a handful for them but he dealt with them comfortably and every week, we’ve said for the whole season, he’s been outstanding. He’s getting close to needing another challenge now.
“We have another trip up to the north east, and we have unfinished business up there to be fair. We went up there in the league and ground out a point and lost in the cup.”
I thought Declan Rice was outstanding at the back. We’ve said it for the whole season. He’s getting close to needing another challenge now.
Wolves scored in the first half through Sylvain Deslandes when the full-back rose the highest from a corner to head home, and it looked as though, for 55 minutes, it would be the hosts who would be progressing to the final.
But with ten minutes left on the clock, substitutes Joe Powell and Hector-Ingram combined perfectly to level the scores, goalscorer Hector-Ingram finding the back of the net with his first touch.
And soon after, the forward was bundled over in the penalty area, giving Samuelsen the opportunity to finish from the spot, something he did with aplomb.
“It’s important for the players to know they must be focused whether they’re starting or whether they’re on the bench,” continued Manning. “As you saw with our first goal, two subs combined for that, and they showed what they could do. It was a quality goal; a great delivery and great header.
“We were one down for a long time so we’re really proud of them believing they could still get something from the game. The group are like that; they’re a close-knit group. The team is very young and we had four U18s starting tonight.
“[Raphael] Spiegel kept us in it at 1-0 down as well; he made two or three consecutive saves in a short space of time and kept us in the game. He did very well.
“Hopefully now we can go to Newcastle and it would be great to get the result and ultimately get promotion.”