U23s prepare for Brighton contest
West Ham United’s U23s face Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday in their final fixture before the Christmas break and coach Liam Manning hopes his side rises to the challenge after defeat to Southampton on Tuesday.
The Hammers were beaten 3-0 in the Premier League International Cup on the south coast but will be keen to go into the New Year on the back of a victory when the Seagulls visit the Chigwell Construction Stadium this weekend in Premier League 2.
West Ham were unfortunate to lose at Brighton 2-1 earlier in the campaign, controlling the match for well over an hour before Grady Diangana’s opener was cancelled out by two goals in the final quarter of an hour at the Amex Stadium.
Manning wants a better result this time around and believes his team has put Tuesday’s result behind them.
He said: “That’s the challenge, for them to go and put that game to bed and to move on. That’s what we will be throwing at them.
“We will obviously, as I always say, look at the previous game, we will have a discussion and then they have got to move on quickly. They cant feel sorry for themselves. As a group, staff and players, they’ve got to get together.
“We will make sure that we correct certain things that weren’t right on Tuesday and then go again, because, you know Saturday is an important game.”
Manning has opted to field a back five in the team’s last two fixtures with Ben Johnson and Vashon Neufville in the wing-back berths, offering width and pace on either flank.
The system allows Reece Oxford, Josh Pask and Tunji Akinola to all play in their regular centre-back positions, and the coach discussed the setup after the Southampton match.
“I think playing in that way allows us to do different things,” he continued. “At Southampton, they matched us up, and that’s a compliment to us.
“They started with a back four and then changed to match us up, which all over the pitch makes the game become one-v-one battles. Ultimately if you come out on top in seven or eight of the one-v-ones then I think as a team, you get a hold of the game.
“We didn’t do that earlier in the week and we need to make sure that’s what we do against Brighton and we should go and get some success.”
The Hammers kick off at 1pm on Saturday and admission is free for Season Ticket Holders and Claret Members. Tickets otherwise are priced at £5 for adults and £3 for concessions.
Meanwhile, the U18s face the same opposition two hours earlier at Rush Green as they look to secure their spot in the top half of the Premier League’s southern division prior to the Christmas break.