Wood: Mellor led by example in Brighton win
Neil Wood has praised D’Mani Mellor for leading by example in his effort and intensity upon his return to Manchester United after a loan spell at Salford City.
Mellor was recalled due to a lack of playing time at the League Two club, and he made an instant impact with a first-half double at Brighton & Hove Albion.
The English striker’s first goal was a deft first-time finish after a lofted ball from Charlie Wellens down the right-wing. Shola Shoretire had just missed the ball, as did the Brighton defence, allowing Mellor to sweep it past Thomas McGill.
After 25 minutes, he doubled his and United’s tally, scoring from close range after intercepting a back pass from Lars Dendoncker.
“He leads by example and leads by effort and energy and intensity,” Wood said of Mellor.
“When you see someone like that at the top of the team, I think it just spreads.
“He’s leading by example for the younger players here. That’s what he brings to the team and [it's] great for his confidence to get two goals.”
United’s first-half display was impressive, thought the young Reds' boss, with the passing was crisp and the team’s shape preventing Brighton from getting any sort of hold on the game.
“Yeah, I thought the first half was excellent,” Wood said.
“We planned a different tactic to City [where United lost 3-1 last week]. We planned to get after them, we knew they’d have a back three and we wanted to be aggressive and press them high. D’Mani sets that off well for us.
“We were aggressive, making good contact, all the things we weren’t doing so well in the last two games, so we’re really pleased. We played some good football and we were comfortable going in at half-time.”
Victory on the south coastGallery
D'Mani Mellor's double gives United U23s three points away at Brighton...
After the break, Brighton came out an improved side and, as Wood admitted, United “took our foot off the gas a little bit.”
Ondrej Mastny was called on to make two excellent saves early in the half and then came up big late on with a string of important stops in added time, by which point Brighton had got a goal back through Marc Leonard.
Wood was pleased to see his side hold on despite the late pressure, and picked out two players in particular for praise.
“I thought Bjorn [Hardley] and Will [Fish] were excellent at the back against two really good, big strikers. There were lots of good performances. I’d say those three [Fish, Hardley and Mellor] were really outstanding.”
The Under-23s aren’t in action again for another fortnight now, when Wood’s team will host West Ham United in a Friday evening (19:00 GMT) fixture.