September 15, 2013

14/09/13 Tottenham Hotspur U18s 2-1 Bolton Wanderers U18s, Hotspur Way

Luke McGee (18)
Luke Amos (16) Christian Maghoma (15) Connor Ogilvie (17) Kyle Walker-Peters (16)
Harry Winks (17) Filip Lesniak (17) William Miller (17)
Emmanuel Sonupe (17) Daniel Akindayini (17) Nathan Oduwa (17)

Subs:
Anton Walkes (16) for Luke Amos, 66.
Josh Onomah (16) for Harry Winks, 66.
Anthony Georgiou (16) for Emmanuel Sonupe, 75.

Sub not used:
Shayon Harrison (16)

The early stages consisted of Spurs dominating possession with short one and two touch passing, which was the way of most of the first half from Spurs. A nice early switch of play from Lesniak signalled his intentions, as he moved the ball intelligently throughout.

Luke McGee was notably vocal in the early stages in particular, which was particularly useful with a young back four ahead of him.

As Spurs looked to penetrate down the flanks, Oduwa took off on a trademark dribble down the left but was halted before he could do damage. Winks then tried to play Sonupe in but didn’t quite get his execution right.

Amos, a small, slight player, is not naturally strong in the air, and didn’t seem keen to put his head on a cross-field. Instead he awkwardly volleyed it up in the air, but Spurs cleared the danger at the second time of asking.

Walker-Peters played the ball out early to Oduwa on the left. He ran up the line and was fouled, but Winks’ free kick was cleared at the front post.

Oduwa then played a one-two with Will Miller, and as he ran into the box, his quick feet got him to the ball before the goalkeeper. He tried to poke it past him but the keeper got a bit of the ball as it rebounded, which meant that no penalty was given when Oduwa went to ground.

Miller then played in Sonupe who beat his man, hit the byline with an explosive burst of pace but over-hit his cross when a cutback was needed, instead choosing to blast it high across the face.

Ogilvie met a long ball with a superb diving header to clear his lines, before Bolton’s Jamie Thomas made room inside the box, and his heavily deflected shot looked destined for the far corner before Luke McGee turned it round the post.

There was then a good save at the other end when Sonupe beat his man with ease and delivered a low cross which was flicked towards goal by Winks, and the Bolton keeper reacted quickly to keep it out.

Miller was then played in but didn’t have much room to work with – he let the ball get too far away from his body on the left of the box, and it was cleared.

Winks found Sonupe wide with a curled pass, but Sonupe languidly crossed straight into the keeper’s hands.

Maghoma got into a bit of a mess when he failed to meet a bouncing ball, but centre-back partner Ogilvie got him out of jail with an excellent interception.

Sonupe and Amos linked well after Winks fed Amos, but the latter’s touch was a little heavy and the ball went out for a throw.

Winks then took a poor corner which was cleared, although Lesniak recovered the ball and this led to Oduwa forcing a point blank save after Sonupe’s driving run and good low cross found him at the back post.

Miller nicked the ball and fed Oduwa, who cut in and had his shot blocked.

The next action saw Winks’ free kick fired in flat to the near post but it was comfortably headed out for a corner, which Winks scuffed – I think that was his last corner of the match.

Sonupe pulled off a fantastic bit of skill (a sort of flip-flap which nutmegged his marker) but then over hit his cross again.

Winks was caught in possession by a hard but fair challenge in midfield from Bolton’s Sam Bailey, but Ogilive slowed the Bolton move with a tactical foul out on the left. McGee missed his punch from the resulting free kick but Maghoma did brilliantly to block the shot, leading to a quick counter. Sonupe found Winks with a clever back-heel, Winks drove forward and fed Miller who had a bit to do and ended up producing a fairly tame shot.

Tottenham took the lead when Winks side-footed home from a Sonupe cross after some excellent link-up on the right, during which Amos showed a deft touch.

Akindayini’s clever turn and shot was his first real involvement, but his shot was blocked by one of the bulky centre-backs.

Winks showed his defensive qualities, tidying up well after Lesniak lost the ball on the halfway line, getting his body in the way at the right time.

Sonupe firmly hit a cross which was cleared for a corner, and Oduwa’s corner was better than some of the earlier efforts that Winks had produced, but was cleared nonetheless.

Bolton’s Thomas Walker showed some good skill before picking out Aaron Knight whose effort was blocked. The rebound fell to Walker again who made no mistake to make it 1-1.

Winks had a shot pushed out for a corner and Oduwa’s delivery was flat and hard, but headed away to safety.

Oduwa then nutmegged his man on the right, and got past him before going to ground – the referee motioned for him to get up, much to his annoyance.

A nice move on the left saw Akindayini find Sonupe breaking into the box, but he steered his shot just wide of the far post.

McGee saved at the near post from a low and hard cross-cum-shot, and the corner was eventually cleared by Maghoma.

Elliot Newby stood up a useful cross to the back post causing McGee to have a bit of a flap, but he got away with it as nobody followed in at the far post.

Miller made another driving run and passed to Akindayini, who beat his man with pace and aimed a shot across goal – it was always going wide, but was agonisingly close to being tapped in by the onrushing Sonupe.

Just before half-time, Bolton got themselves into a bit of a pickle from a throw, allowing Akindayini to rob Abbotts on the near touchline. He had a free run on goal, but seemed to show a lack of decisiveness, culminating in him trying to cross the ball, when a direct run and shot seemed to be the better option.

The second half began with Ogilvie making an excellent block before following the ball back out, and being caught by the follow-through from a second challenge; Jordan Hendrie took advantage of Ogilvie being down and forced a save from McGee, who got down quickly to turn the ball round the post.

Winks played a lovely ball forward for Akindayini, who had a chance to run on goal if his touch was good enough, but his chest control took him a little too far wide.

Oduwa then picked up the ball on the left again, cut in, but flashed a shot closer to the corner flag than the goal.

Centre-back Ogilvie fired an excellent long ball out to Sonupe who got round his man again, only for the full-back to bring him down. The resultant free-kick from Winks was cleared.

Winks then switched the ball quickly to Amos, who linked well with Sonupe, allowing the winger to progress although he was tackled fairly this time.

Oduwa hit the by-line after a nice piece of link-up play with Walker-Peters, but his attempted cross was blocked, and the ball ricocheted back off him and out for a goal-kick.

Walker-Peters recovered the ball well in a good area, and found Winks out wide. He chipped the ball toward Lesniak, but Sonupe assumed the pass was aimed at him and ended up losing possession.

Lesniak made a a rare poor pass which was intercepted, and Bolton won a corner off Maghoma. The captain, Gibson, met the corner but headed over.

Walker-Peters sold Miller short with a pass, allowing Bolton to break, but Maghoma made a fantastic block to stop them in their tracks.

Spurs countered and a fantastic diagonal from Amos found Oduwa – he went wide on the left, then cut on to his right, but had his effort blocked.

Spurs took the lead again when Sonupe went on another run down the right and found Miller with an accurate cut-back – he met it first time and produced a firm, low shot which gave the goalkeeper no chance.

Having gone ahead, Spurs made a couple of changes, bringing on Onomah and Walkes for Winks and Amos.

Oduwa smashed a firm effort from range towards the top corner with very little back-lift, but the keeper read it and got behind it with ease.

Bolton nearly drew level when Knight got on the end of Bailey’s cross to the back post – with Maghoma caught under the ball, Knight’s shot was hit into the ground on the stretch and bounced up awkwardly, drawing a fantastic save from McGee. From the resultant corner Knight then headed over.

A good run down the right from Anton Walkes ended with him cutting the ball back usefully, but he had overrun it slightly and a goal kick was given.

Miller showed his defensive ability – first doing really well to win a header at the back post, and then making a brave block moments later.

Ogilvie then showed off his tenacity, battling a couple of players singlehandedly and coming away with the ball.

The final change for Spurs saw Georgiou come on for Sonupe – he moved to the left, with Oduwa going to the right.

Oduwa found Georgiou with a fantastic pass, but he stumbled slightly as he had a chance to get free – he did well to keep the ball though, and his eventual cross was put out for a corner.

Oduwa then played in Walkes on the overlap, but his touch was a little heavy and the chance was lost.

Thomas Walker intelligently played a free kick down the line for Hendrie, but Walker-Peters closed him down quickly and made a decent block, with the resultant Bolton corner being overhit.

Oduwa had time for an incredible cameo – Walkes won a header, Miller got the loose ball down quickly and fed Oduwa, who drove forward from inside his own half beat a man, then another two men with a drop of the shoulder, but dragged his shot wide across the face.

Bailey came very close to levelling things when he thumped a shot off the crossbar after a poor pass from Walkes – I think Onomah got a slight nick on it as he tried to close the ball.

Georgiou showed a good touch and burst of pace to get down the left, before Onomah shot low and wide after Miller played in Georgiou for a cross-shot.

There was just time for one more chance for each side in injury time, with Miller losing the ball in midfield and needing a block from a teammate to save his blushes, and then Miller going up the other end and forcing a save from a curling effort after he was found by Akindayini.

Overall Spurs deserved the win against a robust and organised Bolton team. Bolton’s centre backs were very tall and strong, and gave little away. Their 4-5-1 was an old-fashioned 4-5-1 rather than the more flexible modern style, meaning we were unable to find much space through the middle. We managed to get plenty of joy down the flanks though, with Oduwa and Sonupe both threatening, but both had pretty inconsistent end product.

This was my first opportunity to catch the latest Academy intake, and I was pleased to see that this year look ahead of last year at the same point.

Luke McGee 7 – the eldest member of the team, and the most vocal. Gave excellent instructions to the very young defence ahead of him, made a couple of decent saves, and generally read the game well.
Luke Amos 6 – not a natural right back, but showed a real willingness to link with Sonupe (as well as Oduwa when the two wingers switched). I look forward to seeing more of him, particularly in his main position of central midfield.
Christian Maghoma 6 – made a couple of errors and is somewhat raw, but was mostly steady, incredibly strong (the guy is huge!) and relatively comfortable on the ball too. He’s definitely one to watch.
Connor Ogilvie 8 – really good performance. Perfect partner for Maghoma – as the more experienced player, he showed great responsibility in tidying up behind, and is also progressing with his possession play too.
Kyle Walker-Peters 7 – showed a certain tenacity and willingness to attack the ball in the air, which I liked. Got up well in support of Oduwa and, despite clearly being right-footed, he didn’t shy away from using his left at times.
Harry Winks 7 – aside from poor set pieces, he was pleasingly inventive, wanted to pass forward more often than not, and showed a willingness to get in the box, scoring a decent goal.
Filip Lesniak 8 – very, very steady game; protected the back four well, and also kept things ticking over in the middle of the pitch. Impressive.
William Miller 7 – reminds me a little of the recently released Munns in that he’s short, but stronger than he might look. He has a promising short passing game and a driving, probing style that is interesting to watch.
Emmanuel Sonupe 7 – it was clear from early in the match that Sonupe had the beating of his man, but he didn’t take advantage as often as he might have done. He has pace, is direct, and got two assists, but his final ball was pretty inconsistent. That said, consistency will come with age – he looks promising at this stage.
Daniel Akindayini 5 – struggled to get into the game against two physical centre-backs. He’s scored three goals in four games this season so far, but this wasn’t a game in which he excelled.
Nathan Oduwa 7 – such a tricky customer with bags of talent. Doesn’t always make the right decision, and doesn’t actually make any decision quickly enough at times, but he showed his undoubted ability throughout.

Anton Walkes – never having seen him play before, I’m not sure if he’s played right back previously, but he looked better going forward than he did defensively.
Josh Onomah – made a few errors, and looked a bit rough around the edges – I’ve seen him play much better.
Anthony Georgiou – looked lively, showed good strength and tenacity, and caused problems on the counter.

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