Carr hails U18s form

Academy Director Tony Carr MBE has hailed the form of West Ham United's U18s.

The Hammers made it seven wins in their last eight Barclays U18 Premier League matches by scoring a dramatic 2-1 success at a stormy Aston Villa on Saturday. That victory left West Ham third in the table, just three points behind leaders Fulham and level with second-place Tottenham Hotspur.

Striker Jordan Brown and goalkeeper Sam Howes were the heroes at Bodymoor Heath, with the former scoring two goals and the latter saving a penalty with the scores level at 1-1.

"On the morning of the game, we were at Villa's training ground and I have to say the game was spoilt by the wind, which made it a bit farcical at times," Carr admitted. "It was very difficult to get the ball down and play and, every time it went in the air, it could end up anywhere.

"At one time, Sam drop-kicked the ball out of his penalty area but it caught the wind and flew back into his penalty area and he caught it! I'd never seen that before, and it showed how strong the wind was.

"It was a game of two halves, with them having the wind in the first half and us having it at our backs in the second half. In some respects, it did spoil the game, but we did score a goal in each half and won the match.

"Jordan scored one in each half and we went a goal up at half-time before they equalised. Villa then got a penalty and Sam saved it. That proved to be the turning point in the game, because we broke forward in the last few minutes and Jordan beat the last defender, dribbled around the goalkeeper and finished from an acute angle.

"It is a great three points for us because it keeps our superb run going."

Carr praised the performances of both Howes and Brown. While still a schoolboy, Howes has played Development Squad football this season and also been capped by England at U17 level. First-year scholar forward Brown, meanwhile, has gradually improved since making a summer switch from Arsenal and now has eight goals to his name.

"Certainly, we feel Sam is one for the future. He is very mature for his age and has done very, very well. It's like everything else, he needs to keep it going, keep maturing and see where he is between the ages of 18 and 20 and we'll see how far we can take him. He certainly has the potential to be a top goalkeeper.

"It's worth mentioning that we had lots of schoolboys playing at Villa at the weekend - probably our youngest team of the season. All in all, it was a good result.

"Jordan is up there with our leading goalscorers now and is leading the line well as a lone striker. He has taken a bit of time to settle in, but now he's starting to get on a little run of form and starting to score goals on a regular basis. Hopefully that can continue and he can get a run-out in the U21s before the end of the season. Jordan just needs to concentrate on continuing to play well and scoring goals and I'm sure that will happen."

West Ham return to Barclays U18 Premier League action on Saturday 15 February, when they welcome Reading to Little Heath for an 11am kick-off.