Ben Marlow might not be known for his goalscoring prowess, but the first-year Academy scholar hopes his first goal in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League is a sign of things to come.

The 17-year-old midfielder broke the deadlock in Friday's 2-1 Elite Group win over Liverpool at the Boleyn Ground, powering home a back-post header with all the style of a seasoned finisher.

In actual fact, it's only his second strike of the campaign and his first for the Under-21s, but Marlow plans to make a habit of popping up with vital goals, starting with Thursday's crunch trip to Southampton.


He told West Ham TV: "Just recently I've been going into the box and attacking corners, so it was nice to repay Nick Haycock and get on the scoresheet with my head.

"Before the game my dad told me to go on the back post and hopefully I'll get my head on it and I did, so I've got him to thank!

"I don't [score too many with my head] and I don't score that often anyway, so I was absolutely delighted. I'll give the goal to the lads, because they worked so hard through the game, for 90 minutes. I thought they were absolutely fantastic."

Marlow's capacity to burst into the box owes much to the form of frontmen Elliot Lee and Sean Maguire. The Academy starlet explained that it is a pleasure to play behind them, with their tidy link-up play making his life considerably easier.

He continued: "When the ball goes up to Elliot, you know it's going to stick to him and that's always good for midfielders. I feel that I can join in, knowing the ball's not coming straight back.

"And when they get a chance, both him and Sean, you're confident it's going to be a goal, or at the very least a shot on target. They're doing really well and all credit to them.

"Sean's a great lad. He played well against Wolves and he carried that on against Liverpool. He looked really sharp as usual and hopefully he can carry that on."

Marlow and his fellow U21 colleagues make the trip to the south coast on the back of successive wins and with the top three firmly in their sights. As it stands, both the Hammers and the Saints are locked together on 16 points, four behind third-placed Liverpool.

While Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United are already assured of an end-of-season Play-Off place, the final spot is still very much up for grabs and Marlow is adamant that it is well within their reach.

"Never write us off," he added. "Liverpool have got Manchester United and Arsenal to play in the next two, so if we can push on and win our last two games, we'll put it all down to Liverpool and hopefully they'll slip up. We want to get third place and I think we can!"

Kick-off at Southampton's Staplewood Training Ground is scheduled for 2.30pm and while this is a behind closed doors affair, you can follow all the action as it happens courtesy of our live text updates.

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