Slaven Bilic's 'boys' are putting in the performance of men so far in Romania tonight! Having been given the tall task of winning away after conceding a two goal lead at home, the kids got off to the perfect start with a strike from their new signing Manuel Lanzini - nicknamed 'the jewel'. Lanzini has been the brightest player for the Hammers so far with a goal and a number of decent deliveries from set pieces.
Astra looked stunned but managed to restore parity on the 33rd minute and then forged ahead moments later as Romanian international Constantin Budescu notched a quickfire brace. Kevin Nolan went close from a 38th minute free kick with a header from the six yard line that flashed wide.
Up front, Elliott Lee looks lively and 'grandad' Kevin Nolan is putting in a decent shift both in terms of ground covered as well as motivating the young troops. It's hot and humid in Southern Romania, so hopefully the more youthful Hammers side will recover the ascendency as the game progresses. Maybe if they can get it back to 2-2 and force extra time then they will feel the benefit of youth. In the interim, the defence needs to close down Astra more quickly!
The bench is entirely comprised of inexperienced development squad players, so options in terms of known gamechangers are limited. The good news is that Lanzini doesn't look like he's done just yet!