Liam Manning was full of praise for his West Ham United U23 team on Monday night as the Hammers were 3-0 winners at Swansea City in a Premier League 2 Division 1 relegation scrap.
Two Dan Kemp goals either side of Mesaque Dju’s first strike in Claret and Blue secured all three points for the visitors, who dominated in south Wales and could have won by more at the Liberty Stadium.
The victory leaves West Ham three points from safety at the foot of the league table, but with a game in hand still to play, the east Londoners will remain confident of survival, particularly after picking up such an important win at Swansea.
Manning was delighted for his team, who also secured their first clean sheet in the league this campaign.
He said: “We’re really pleased. We looked like a real team. We’ve made a lot of changes this season so it’s pleasing to perform like that tonight; it’s no coincidence to perform like that after training like they have this week.
“We had a chat after Blackburn and I think they really tried to implement what we spoke about. Collectively they were at a really good level and there were also some outstanding individual performances as well.
“We defended well and to score three away from home is really pleasing, so it was a complete performance.
“The pitch helped massively; playing on that surface was great and the lads did really well with how they applied themselves. It was the best win for a little while so we’re obviously delighted with how they’ve done.”
With Nathan Holland supplying two of the Hammers’ goals via assists, Kemp bagging a brace and Grady Diangana looking dangerous throughout, the visitors were always likely to cause Swansea danger going forward and Manning explained why his side were constantly a threat.
We looked like a real team. It’s no coincidence to perform like that after training like they have this week.
“I thought we started quite slow but we got into the rhythm,” he continued. “Nathan really caused their full-back plenty of problems and we said at half-time keep feeding Nathan. We saw the result of that in the second half and as the game went on.
“The three of the guys behind Sean [Adarkwa] – who has been out a while and did well – Kemp, Nathan and Grady were very dangerous. We were creative and we could have scored more. Ultimately though we scored three decent goals and we’re very happy.
“Kemp obviously had a serious injury and missed ten or eleven months, and after that, it’s always going to take you a little while to get back up to speed and he’s performing really well. It’s great in terms of confidence for him to get a couple of goals.”
Dju, who joined the Hammers in January, was introduced as a second half substitute and bagged West Ham’s second with his first touch, tapping in Holland’s driven cross from the left.
Boss Manning described the Portuguese attacker’s jubilation after the match.
“Mesa is over the moon, he was delighted in the dressing room after the game. It is great for him. The big thing for Mesa from when he signed until the end of the season was about adapting and improving his English, getting up to speed with our style and how we play, and he’s getting better at that.
“Now, we have four games to play, and although we don’t want to be in this positive, it’s a great experience for the lads to be involved in this to be fair; there’s an element of pressure on the result as well as the performance.
“We spoke last week about a duty to the club and to the team stepping up to this level next season, so hopefully we can take the positivity tonight into Arsenal in the next game and keep building on this.”