Liam Manning admitted he did not enjoy a nervy five minutes as his West Ham United U23 team saw their four-goal lead reduced to just one against Swansea City on Sunday, but was delighted as the Hammers held on to record three points in a 5-3 victory.
The Academy side were 4-0 up and seemingly coasting after an hour before three Swansea goals without reply set up a grand-stand finish in the Premier League 2 fixture at Dagenham and Redbridge’s Chigwell Construction Stadium.
But the hosts stood up tall and strong, rebuffing the Swans’ late pressure before hitting their opponents on the counter attack to finish the game off once for all when a fifth was scored in the 90th minute by young sub Veron Parkes.
At full-time, a relieved Manning reflected on what had been an entertaining afternoon of football for the neutrals.
“It wasn’t the finish that we’d hoped for, but we’re delighted to pick up the result,” he said. “It was an exciting one for the neutral, but not so much for us on the sidelines!
“We’re really pleased in terms of coming out with the win, which was one of the main objectives for today.
“I still felt we were inconsistent at times in the first half, but on the whole we were better than them in that first period and had more quality. Coming in three up at half time was pleasing, and then it was a case of building on that. We got the goal and that helped.
It was an exciting one for the neutral, but not so much for us on the sidelines!Liam Manning
“It’s a great learning curve for some of the young lads who came on; we just said to them, they need to learn to have an impact in a positive way and they’ll have got that message from today’s game.
“Manny [Longelo] had a real positive impact going forward and played a huge role in making two of the goals, but everything that goes with the attacking stuff has to be bang on; the fundamentals need to be done.”
Doing many of the fundamentals for Manning side’s throughout the sunny afternoon in east London were skipper Moses Makasi, winger Dan Kemp and No10 Jahmal Hector-Ingram, all of whom returned to the team after lengthy spells on the sidelines.
With Kemp in particular under a watchful eye having not played a competitive match since last November, Manning was pleased the trio came through the game unscathed and praised the lads’ mentality having spent so much time on the sidelines.
“We were delighted to have those three back, and they’re great characters and they have applied themselves really well,” he continued. “We missed them in terms of strength and senior experience and they’ve had a really good impact.
“As an Academy as a whole, it’s been a good weekend in terms of Grady [Diangana] and Declan [Rice] playing yesterday, Moses, Kempy and Jahmal back; there have been a huge number of positives.
“We now have six games in 23 days and it’s a full on schedule. We have big league games coming, and Leicester is Friday. It’s an opportunity to get more minutes in the players’ legs as they come back, so hopefully we can go and pick up some results and perform well.”