'This is my chance'

As starts to careers in senior football go, few have been as eventful as that enjoyed by Cristian Montano.

The youngster joined League One side Notts County on a month-long loan on Friday 5 August - the morning after helping a West Ham United XI defeat Grays Athletic 5-1.

After watching his new side defeat Carlisle nine days ago, Montano was thrown into the lion's den of County's pulsating Carling Cup first-round derby at Nottingham Forest. County led twice before conceding a last-minute equaliser and losing on penalties in front of a 21,605-strong crowd.

On Saturday, Montano was introduced as a half-time substitute with his side trailing 2-0 to Charlton Athletic and responded by scoring his maiden Football League goal on the hour-mark, although the Magpies were unable to fashion a late equaliser.

The 19-year-old, who excelled in pre-season with the Hammers, has relished the opportunity to play first-team football.

"The loan spell has been going well," Montano told whufc.com "I'm liking the challenge and the experience of being able to play first-team football, which is what I've always wanted to do.

"My debut at Forest was probably one of the things I won't forget, being able to play in a derby in a big stadium in the Carling Cup in front of 21-odd thousand fans. The atmosphere was great.

"At first I was a bit nervous, but what a game to make your debut! I was really looking forward to it and was full of excitement - feeling all sort of things I'd never felt before - but then I came on, forgot about the crowd and got on with my game.

"I was full of confidence due to the way I've been given chances in pre-season and just want to push on from here."

Having helped the Magpies go so close to defeating Championship side Forest, Montano caught the eye again at the weekend, scoring from close-range against Charlton - a side managed by former Hammer Chris Powell and his assistant, former West Ham reserve-team manager Alex Dyer.

"When I found it was Charlton on Saturday I was so looking forward to it and said to myself that it would be nice to get a goal against Alex Dyer!," he said.

"I came on half way through the game. We had our first corner and that was when I said 'This is my chance'. I started from outside of the box, lost my man and then one of their defenders missed the header and the ball landed to me and I side-footed it in to the bottom right-hand corner.

"Scoring my first league goal in my first league game means a lot and is something I will never forget."

Montano is looking to continue a memorable few days by making his full league debut when County host Tranmere Rovers at Meadow Lane on Tuesday evening.

Looking further into the future, the Colombia-born forward is eyeing a first senior appearance in a claret and blue shirt.

"I'm looking forward to next game," he confirmed. "I will keep working hard and keep pushing for my West Ham debut down the line. For now, though I'm focused on Notts County and on doing well here!"