Manning: Brighton defeat was the best we’ve played this season

Liam Manning


West Ham United U23 boss Liam Manning insisted Friday night’s performance against Brighton & Hove Albion in Premier League 2 was his team’s best this campaign, despite the 2-1 scoreline going in the hosts’ favour.

The Hammers travelled to Albion’s Amex Stadium and went in front through Grady Diangana’s goal in during an impressive first half.

But the Seagulls, against the run of play, scored twice in the final quarter of an hour to condemn West Ham to their first defeat on the road this season.

Manning, though, was impressed with the way the visitors applied themselves for the large majority of the fixture, and said the game should have already been won by the time Brighton equalised.

“I’ve got to say, for up to 70 minutes we were really, really good to be fair and it was probably the best we’ve played all season,” he reflected.

“In terms of chances created, defensively working together; we did it all really well and we addressed what we’ve spoken about this week. We controlled the game and we should have had the game done by then really, wrapped up. 

“For those 70 minutes, it was a huge improvement and we should have had it won. Joseph [Anang] didn’t have a save to make in the first 70 minutes. 

“They scored in the manner in which we knew they attack from what we’d spoken about before the game. That was disappointing. They got down the sides of us and punished us and it’s a good lesson but ultimately, there were plenty of positives to take.”

For up to 70 minutes we were really, really good to be fair and it was probably the best we’ve played all season

Liam Manning

The Hammers celebrate Diangana's first half strike

Summer signing Xande Silva grabbed the assist for Diangana’s strike and was dangerous throughout, looking the most likely to add to his team’s lead after the 20th minute goal.

And a number of other performers all over the park pleased Manning.

“I thought some of our play in attacking areas was really good. I though Xande Silva was unplayable at times; they couldn’t deal with him. Xande’s movement was great; he was dropping deep, he was going in behind.

“Some of his link play was great, and Grady was a real threat throughout too and he did really well. Then Conor [Coventry] and Alfie [Lewis] controlled the middle and ran the game. 

“So there are a huge number if positives, and although we lost 2-1, it was the best we’ve played this season.”

The Hammers have little time to dwell on the defeat and return to action when they face Bristol Rovers in the Checkatrade Trophy on Tuesday night.

That match is followed by a London derby with Chelsea the following Saturday, while a second Checkatrade Trophy tie comes a few days later.

“I think the good thing again with our games programme this season is that it’s more like a first team games programme in that we have four games in eleven days,” continued Manning, look ahead at the U23s’ schedule.

“We’ve got no time to feel sorry for ourselves. We need to rest and recover and be ready to go back and get to work again against Bristol Rovers on Tuesday.”