Sears proves the hat-trick hero

West Ham United Under-18s 4-1 Norwich City Under-18s

Freddie Sears hit a hat-trick and made the other goal as West Ham United continued their fine form at Under-18 level at home against Norwich City.

The 18-year-old striker is in prolific form for Tony Carr's Academy side and his treble strike, and assist for Anthony Edgar, capped a tremendous week. On Tuesday he returned to the England Under-19 fold and cemented his place in the squad ahead of some vital European U19 Championship qualifiers in May with a superb substitute display in a 2-0 friendly win against Croatia.

At Little Heath on Saturday, Sears finally broke the deadlock after a fairly even first 30 minutes of football. It came from the spot and unsurprisingly it was Sears himself who won the spot-kick, as he was brought down by the visiting goalkeeper Declan Rudd. Sears brushed himself down and stepped up to score the opening goal.

Edgar made it two soon afterwards, pouncing to score with a low drive from a central position after good work by Sears on the right. Norwich refused to give in though and were able to pull one back three minutes before the interval when Tom Miller pounced to score from a corner. Although the Canaries were back in the contest, Sears restored the two-goal lead seven minutes after the interval.

The striker displayed his usual predatory instincts when Junior Stanislas's curling free-kick from distance was spilled by Rudd. Before anyone else could react, Sears had taken advantage and the ball was in the back of the net. It was all West Ham United from that point and Jordan Spence and Ben Hunt both had good chances to get on the scoresheet while Sears also missed a great opportunity.

It did not matter as his hat-trick finally came in the closing stages, after schoolboy midfielders Conor Okus and Nick Barrett had entered the fray as late substitutes. Tony Brookes burst out of defence and played a neat pass through the middle that set Sears away. He outpaced the defence, rounded Rudd and finished with aplomb despite the tight angle to cap a superb display. Sears has now scored eight goals in five matches since the turn of the year.

West Ham United: Street, Brookes, Spence, Payne, Miller, Stanislas (Okus 55), Lee, Edgar, Kearns (Barrett 55), Hunt (Harvey 80), Sears