Debutant Eric Dier’s 93rd minute goal handed us a 1-0 win at Upton Park on Saturday, despite the team playing with a numerical advantage for a large chunk of the match.
Kyle Naughton’s first half dismissal for handball led to a reshuffle at the back, with Dier moving from centre-half to the right side and midfielder Etienne Capoue dropping in alongside Younes Kaboul in the middle.
That unfamiliar line-up proved effective – and drew praise from striker Ade as he reflected on our positive start to the campaign.
“Congratulations to the defenders,” said the front man, who was bundled over by James Collins in the second period – an incident that led to the West Ham man’s dismissal for a second bookable offence and evened up the personnel numbers.
“It’s always important to start the season well and we have done that. Even though we went down to 10 men we still had the belief.
“Defensively we were very solid and we moved the ball well. Congratulations to Eric too – it’s a nice way to welcome him to the club.
“It was an important game. We knew before coming here what happened last season but we had a different approach to the game and we played very well.”
With the first leg of our Europa League Play-Off Round tie against AEL Limassol to come on Thursday night, followed by a home Premier League match against Queens Park Rangers next Sunday, Ade believes our early victory ensures we can approach our forthcoming fixtures with added belief.
“Eric made the difference, scoring the winning goal, but at the end of the day I’m pleased with the three points and everyone is proud of the result,” he said.
“When we were down to 10 men we had to play as a team and defend as a team and for our confidence this is a very good win.
“We are not going to be easy to beat and our confidence is high.”