Levi Laing suggested that West Ham United U21s gave Manchester United too much respect, as the young Hammers fell to a 3-2 defeat against the Red Devils on Friday night.
The young Irons were on course to claim their fifth successive victory in all competitions at Rush Green Stadium, racing into a two-goal lead courtesy of brilliant goals by Pierre Ekwah and Divin Mubama.
The visitors responded after the interval as Joe Hugill scored from the penalty spot before Marc Jurardo equalised on 68 minutes. Sonny Aljofree’s late header was enough to snatch all three points for the visitors, leaving the Hammers empty handed.
Laing indicated that the young Hammers did not compete well enough during the second half, as a consequence of showing their opposition too much respect.
“We’re really upset about that one,” Laing told whufc.com. “Everyone is gutted in the changing room, because we felt that we deserved more from the game. However, we gave them far too much respect in the second half and we paid the price.
“We conceded from a penalty and from two corners, and that isn’t good enough from our point of view. The goals were all preventable and that’s something that we need to address moving forwards.
“We started really well and took a two-goal lead into half time, but we couldn’t get going in the second half. Manchester United were able to get out of the blocks a lot quicker than us. They dominated possession and they were clinical when their chances came.”
The 19-year-old believes that the team needed to be more ruthless, particularly after taking a commanding lead inside 12 minutes at Rush Green Stadium.
He continued: “I think we learned a big lesson tonight as a team. In football you cannot afford to take your foot off the gas at any level and we were guilty of that tonight. As a result we were punished.
“At 2-0 we should have controlled the game, but we let them back into the match. Once they equalised they had a bit more momentum and they won the match from there. I think we need to be a bit mentally stronger.”
Despite a disappointing result, Laing suggested that there were positives to take from the match after a brilliant first half performance.
The centre back is keen to take these positives into the U21s next Premier League 2 match against Chelsea on January 27.
“We played some fantastic football during the first half; we were able to dominate the game and we scored two good goals. It was a game of two halves, the first half was really good, but the second half was nowhere near good enough.
“We have been on a good run of form and we wanted to continue that tonight. We didn’t get the result that we wanted so we will have to pick ourselves up and go again. We’ve got Chelsea next week and our aim is to play well and most importantly to get the win.”