Monday, 25 February 2008

Freddie Searing Hot

Freddie Sears maintained his impressive scoring form to earn West Ham United a hard-fought 3-1 victory against a youthful Tottenham side tonight. The prolific 18-year-old forward, who now has three goals from six reserve appearances and 21 strikes in 17 games for the Under-18s, struck on the stroke of half-time to cancel out Troy Archibald-Henville's opener for Tottenham. He wrapped up the win with a superb run and shot 17 minutes from time. In between, he found time to set up Dean Ashton for a close-range finish.

Sears had begun the contest on the right wing but moved into attack when Bobby Zamora made way on half-time. It was an experienced side throughout with Jimmy Walker in goal behind Jonathan Spector and John Paintsil. The victory moves West Ham United three points clear of third-placed Reading in the southern section of the Barclays Premier Reserve League and just two points behind leaders Aston Villa - although both have two games in hand after a 1-1 draw on the same evening.

At a chilly Brisbane Road, Tottenham were the brighter of the two sides in a bruising first half which was most noticeable for several robust encounters. Walker, who had Ludek Miklosko as his replacement on the bench after the late withdrawal of Adam Street, and David Button in the Spurs goal were largely spectators in the opening stages as a number of moves broke down. After a couple of fine tackles by young left-back Ashley Miller to stop the visitors in their tracks, West Ham United's first real opportunity came in the 17th minute. Paintsil picked out Ashton in a good central position but he was just unable to make a clean connection and his glancing header flew wide. Six minutes later, Zamora did well to fashion an opening but the ball would not sit kindly and his effort looped over the bar. A minute later, Jack Collison had the chance to head for goal from the middle of the penalty area after fine work by Ashton but again Button watched it fly safely behind.

Tottenham picked up after that and looked the most likely with Danny Rose and Simon Dawkins looking particularly menacing. They finally broke the deadlock in the 34th minute when Troy Archibald-Henville glanced in a Rose free-kick. Walker had no chance with that but did well soon after the restart to save at point-blank range from David Hutton. James Tomkins then had to be alert to stop another potential Tottenham attack and it seemed if any side was going to strike before half-time it would be the hosts. However, good play by Ashton on the right saw him pick out Kyel Reid on the edge of the area. His shot was miscued into the path of Sears, who turned quickly and flashed a shot beyond Button. It was almost the last action of the half and proved pivotal as Kevin Keen's side were always in command after the break. Zavon Hines came on to replace Zamora which in turn allowed Sears to link up through the middle with Ashton.

Within ten minutes of the restart both forwards had made space for a couple of good efforts on goal and looked an effective partnership. With Tottenham making a couple of changes on the hour, the contest was beginning to open up and a second West Ham United goal seemed on the cards. It duly came in the 68th minute as Hines slipped Sears away and he raced through to the byline. From there, he looked up and picked out Ashton who had no trouble converting from close range. Sears was not finished. Five minutes later, he struck a sensational second to put his side two goals clear. Ashton set him away with a neat pass and the young forward did the rest, racing beyond three defenders before confronting Button in the Spurs goal. Before the keeper could react, Sears fired into the far corner and victory was assured.

West Ham United: Jimmy Walker, John Pantsil, James Tomkins (Jordan Spence 70), Ashley Miller (Lorcan Fitzgerald 78), Jonathan Spector, Freddie Sears, Tony Stokes, Jack Collison, Kyel Reid, Dean Ashton, Bobby Zamora (Zavon Hines 46)
Subs: Ludek Miklosko, Junior Stanislas

Elsewhere, Tony Carr was a happy man after his Under-18 side moved two points clear at the top of Group A of the Premier Academy League at the weekend. Goals from Tom Harvey and Freddie Sears helped West Ham United to win 2-0 at Crystal Palace as previous league leaders Southampton were losing 3-0 at Ipswich Town FC. The Hammers now have 42 points from 23 games, while Southampton have 40 from the same number of fixtures. Arsenal in third place are still most people's favourites for the title although they are six points adrift of top spot with four games in hand.

Reflecting on Saturday's fifth victory in six unbeaten games and a third clean sheet in a row on the road, Carr said: "We would like to finish the season on a high and keep this run going to the end. Certainly defensively we are looking quite strong. We are playing as a team unit at the moment. There is a lot of togetherness in the squad. We are getting the results and breeding confidence at the same time." Once again, Sears found himself on the score-sheet. His 85th-minute goal was impressive for the way he evaded the Palace defence before rounding the keeper to score and even more remarkable because he had only just come on as a late replacement. Carr said: "He is the guy you want in those positions because he can finish. He has had a terrific season and caught the eye. All the players at this level must keep grounded and he is that sort of player. He is West Ham through and through and just wants to do well for himself and the club."


MoonCat said...

Sears must be worth a shot in the first team at some point this season. He can't be any more profligate than Cole and Ashton judging on Saturday's performance.

Keira's Panties said...

I would have to agree. If, as seems likely, we have little to play for now except league place prize money then we don't have much to lose. He could be the new Tony Cottee with a bit of luck.


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