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2014-01-28T07:48:00 Updated 2015-02-18T22:52:58

Academy striker making progress

West Ham United's Under-18s continued their fine form this season at the weekend with an impressive 2-0 victory over Chelsea at Little Heath.

Captain Kieran Bywater put the Hammers ahead after five minutes with a well-taken effort following good work from striker Jordan Brown, before the 17-year-old forward added to his own tally for the season after 24 minutes.

Speaking after the match, former Arsenal striker Brown spoke of his delight with the result, believing that performances like Saturday's from the Hammers could keep them within touching distance of the Barclays Under-18 Premier League South title.

"I'm really happy with the result," said Brown. "Before the game, I think Chelsea were third with a few games in hand, but that result has given us a boost to stay near the top of the league.

"The title is definitely in reach for us. At the start of the season, we let a few games slip, but the recent ten-game unbeaten run has really helped us and although we ended that the other week at Southampton, we are still on course this season for a good finish."

After netting the Hammers' second goal in the first half against Chelsea, Brown spurned an excellent chance to put the home side further ahead, which has added to the former England U16 striker's desire to improve his goal ratio this season.

"I didn't really expect it to come to me if I'm being honest," he explained. "It came off a few knees and legs and then just fell in front of me, so I was quite blessed that I was given the chance to score. I thought it was quite an easy opportunity to take.

"I really thought that I was going to score the one in the second half, but as I went to shoot, I caught more of the grass than the ball and it just trickled along, hit the outside of the post and went wide.

"When I get the opportunities in front of goal, I really want to improve my ratio and start finishing off more than I do at the moment."

Brown signed for West Ham United on a scholarship from July 2013, before putting pen to paper on his first professional deal in November 2013, which was a dream come true for him, although he admits that he still hasn't made it as a professional.

"It's a boy's dream to sign a professional contract with a football club so I was over the moon when signing the contract. I don't really see it as a proper professional contract because I know that I'm not at that stage yet. I want to work hard to become a professional footballer in the first team, not the Under-18s."

Personal development is high on this young Academy prospect's mind and since signing for the Hammers, Brown has seen his confidence on the pitch improve the most.

"It's been quite a weird season to be honest because at the start, I was scoring the goals but I didn't feel like my performances were that good, whereas now, I feel like I've been playing much better but without the goals.

"Going into the final third of the season, hopefully I can match the two and play regularly like how I did against Chelsea.

"At the start of the season when I moved to a new club, when I was shooting and struggling to hold the ball up, my head was bound to drop. As I got more comfortable and started playing better, it gives you that extra confidence that you need as a striker to continue working hard and scoring goals.

"The coaching staff just kept helping me in training by telling me what I needed to change and make sure I had it in my head what I needed to focus on."

It is in key areas like ball retention that Brown also feels like he has improved, hoping that being stronger on the ball will eventually get him closer to featuring in Nick Haycock's Development Squad.

"When I first joined the club, I knew that I wasn't ready to begin looking up at the Development Squad, but now I am hoping to maybe feature once or twice whenever I'm wanted.

"I've improved my game a lot recently as I didn't really know when I joined how to use my body to hold the ball up properly, but I've learnt what to do now.

"In the Development Squad games, if you lose possession of the ball, the opposition can go down the other end and punish you for it, so it was vital that I improved my ball retention."

Moving clubs can be a stressful time for any new player, but Brown settled in quickly and is now a firm part of the West Ham family, which he feels will help the club's bid for the title this season.

"Football's not an individual game so you need to have a strong bond with your team mates.

"I've noticed that at West Ham, it's like glue because everyone sticks together and moves together as a team. For example, if someone goes for the ball, someone is automatically covering him.

"Obviously there are smaller groups of friends within the team, but no one argues with each other and everyone is friends.

"That all helps when we go out on the pitch because we are out there playing for each other and ourselves. I think that has helped us earn the results that we have deserved this season."

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