January 25, 2016

25/01/16 Liverpool U21s 2-0 Tottenham Hotspur U21s, Deva Stadium

Tom Glover (18)
Walker-Peters (18) Cameron Carter-Vickers (18) (c) Filip Lesniak (19) Anthony Georgiou (18)
Luke Amos (18) Anton Walkes (18)
Andros Townsend (24) Cy Goddard (18) Joe Pritchard (19)
Will Miller (19)

Emmanuel Sonupe (19) for Joe Pritchard, 68.
Christian Maghoma (18) for for Will Miller, 77.
Christopher Paul (18) for Cy Goddard, 84.

Subs not used:
Harry Voss (19)

Liverpool: Bogdan (28), Virtue (18), Hart (19), Caulker (24), Enrique (30), Stewart (22), Ojo (18), Chirivella (18), Sinclair (19), Brannagan (19), Kent (19).

Spurs lined up with Kyle Walker-Peters and Cameron Carter-Vickers joined by midfielders Filip Lesniak and Anyhony Georgiou in the back-line. Luke Amos was the dedicated holder in midfield, with Anton Walkes playing as the 8. Andros Townsend started on the right, with Cy Goddard centrally and Joe Pritchard on the left. Will Miller was ‘leading the line’ – I use the phrase loosely.

Spurs were the much younger side, an average of two and a half years younger according to @thfcacademy.

Liverpool had two Premier League players at centre-back, up against a player in Will Miller who had barely played a string of matches for the Under-21s, and certainly not as a striker.

Spurs were missing Shayon Harrison, Nathan Oduwa (recently returned from Rangers), and Milos Veljkovic through injury, Dominic Ball, Grant Ward and Connor Ogilvie who were out on loan, and Josh Onomah and Harry Winks who were with the first team squad in Barcelona. Walker-Peters was available after his trial at Roda did not lead to a loan (apparently due to their long-ball approach!).

It was obvious from the start that the gegenpressing was not just a first-team tactic for Liverpool, as they pushed up quickly on Spurs’ back line and forced them to play long-balls out, a style the players are not accustomed to. Cameron Carter-Vickers was struggling as a result and played one long pass straight into touch and another cannoning into Walker-Peters’ legs after a ‘hospital pass’ from Anton Walkes.

Jerome Sinclair broke forward well for Liverpool but Carter-Vickers read the danger and shepherded him out before clearing for a throw.

Walkes and Amos were both a bit sloppy in possession in midfield in the early stages, which was not helping Spurs in their attempts to gain a foothold.

Georgiou played a nice ball to Miller who had dropped into midfield; he got it wide to Townsend, who cut in but tried to best one man too many. Liverpool were closing Townsend down well, getting bodies around him and causing him to take an extra touch.

Amos, meanwhile, was playing himself into the game nicely with some good passing, taking the ball in tight spaces and using it intelligently.

Liverpool nearly went ahead on 10 minutes as Ojo got the better of Georgiou and played Sinclair in on the inside of Lesniak; his cut-back just evaded the bodies in the box.

On 13 minutes, Ojo won a free kick off Georgiou on the Liverpool right and Kent’s left footed cross-cum-shot slipped right through the body of poor Tom Glover. 1-0 to the home side.

Amos got Spurs on the front foot with a nice pass to Pritchard, but he overhit his knock to Townsend – the story of Spurs’ night.

Glover played a very poor pass out to Georgiou which he just got away with, but Georgiou miscontrolled it; Spurs were their own worst enemy.

There was some nice interplay from Goddard and Townsend but Goddard’s pass towards Miller was too long.

Spurs’ first opening came on 23 minutes as Pritchard bundled his way into a shooting area but dragged his effort wide.

Sinclair’s effort was straight at Glover after Brannagan won the ball and found him well.

Georgiou found Pritchard, he danced across the edge of the box and teed up Goddard, but Liverpool players converged on him and ex-Spur Stewart blocked the effort.

Spurs then won a corner which Georgiou and Townsend managed to waste between them by trying to be too clever.

Amos did brilliantly to rob Virtue and, as he cut in readying himself to shoot, Virtue took him down right on the edge of the penalty area; he was lucky not to get booked. Townsend’s free-kick was the right idea, but hit straight at Bogdan.

Townsend won a foul from Hart after getting the ball from Goddard, and his free kick was taken towards the near post, with Caulker clearing it as Walkes lingered.

Spurs got Miller into the box in a good position but his cut-back was wasteful. Miller then lost the ball again after a good pass by Pritchard.

Goddard showed some lovely skill and quick feet to hold the ball under pressure and then get the ball wide as Spurs were having their best spell.

Townsend made a fantastic driving run down the right and his cut-back was perfect to Miller, but he lacked composure and smashed his shot over with his left foot when well placed.

Walker Peters held back Ryan Kent and somehow got away without a booking – this became more controversial later in the game, when Stewart picked up his second for a similar foul.

Georgiou did well to dispossess Ojo who was well positioned on the right of the box after a lovely pass from Enrique.

Amos nicked in to win possession again – something he did a lot throughout the half.

Walkes played an impressive first time pass out wide to Georgiou but he had strayed offside. At half-time, Spurs went in 1-0 down after a pretty dreadful half of football with very little quality on display. Liverpool, the more experienced side, were marginally better.

Spurs started the second half poorly, with Walker-Peters clipping Sinclair’s heels as he was about to run through – in a Premier League match, that would definitely have been a booking, and probably Walker-Peters’ second. Fortunately for Spurs, Kent’s free-kick came back off the wall.

Glover got himself into a mess once again when he took an unnecessary touch in the box and then struggled to clear his lines – he was eventually glad that Carter-Vickers mopped up the mess.

Amos did well to win the ball again but Walkes gave the ball straight back to Liverpool, playing a dreadful pass straight down the middle to Bogdan.

Amos fouled Stewart after a nice Stewart dummy and then committed another foul which saw him go into the book. Carter-Vickers defended Brannagan’s free kick well, but Liverpool persisted and Ojo crossed for Sinclair to tuck in, with Glover suspect once again. 2-0 and it looked like game over.

A couple of minutes later Amos committed another foul – he was walking a real tightrope.

Sinclair’s header went easily into Glover’s hands after a lovely cross from the impressive Ojo, before Kent nutmegged Walkes on the edge of the box but flashed his slot well wide.

On 65 minutes, Spurs strung together their best move of the half but Townsend lost possession on the left. Walker-Peters regained the ball on the opposite side but Pritchard overhit his cross wastefully.

Kent had a good run and shot but Glover got down to claim it at the second attempt, before Braanigan’s superb burst into the box ended with a shot which flashed just wide.

Sonupe came on for Pritchard on the left, and on 68 minutes he cut in off the line but his through ball went straight out for a goal kick.

A minute later, Walker-Peters exchanged passes with Townsend and went on a trademark mazy run; he got the ball into Miller who found Sonupe but he passed up a shooting opportunity and ended up with a corner which was hit too long by Townsend.

Walker-Peters then dribbled expertly out from the back and won a free kick, before Townsend showed some good skill and awareness to to cut inside and find Walker-Peters again.

Miller received the ball from Walker-Peters and turned Enrique well, but Stewart barged into him to take him down on the edge of the box, and received a booking. Townsend took the free kick and fired it just over.

A couple of minutes later, Stewart received his second yellow for dragging Walkes back – an easy decision for the referee.

Will Miller was replaced by Christian Maghoma. This meant that Lesniak moved into midfield (yay!) and Walkes moved up front (boo!).

Chris Paul replaced Cy Goddard in our final change, as we tried to press home the numerical advantage.

In truth we created little more, and Walkes’ horribly over hit pass for Sonupe summed up our attacking intent.

This was not a good performance from our side, and I am getting increasingly concerned about the way the team is being managed. Without wanting to single out individuals, there are a few players in this team that are simply not up to playing at this level, and Ehiogu’s unwillingness to recognise this has led to some good players 1. being played out of position and 2. losing confidence as a result

I will not be doing ratings this time, mostly as they won’t make nice reading. Suffice to say that Townsend tried hard but had little success, and Walker-Peters was his usual self in possession. He is a level above most of his teammates and I cannot see what this is doing for his development. He needs a loan move, even if it is to League Two or to Scotland, like Oduwa; Mark Warburton would handle him with care.

While we had a lot of players unavailable for various reasons (e.g. I imagine that the following team would have given Liverpool a much better game: McGee; Walker-Peters, Carter-Vickers, Ball, Ogilvie; Veljkovic, Winks; Ward, Onomah, Oduwa; Harrison), these consistently poor team selections are worrying.

It is time for us to give ourselves a platform by playing Carter-Vickers and Maghoma at the back, Lesniak (or Veljkovic, when fit) and Amos in deep midfield and to give Marcus Edwards and Keanan Bennetts more minutes behind Shayon Harrison (or, when he’s not available, Kazaiah Sterling).

Obviously I do not know the ins and outs of daily training – I can’t say who is and is not deserving of team spots based on that. But from watching the games that I have, and from speaking to people who watch every week, I cannot see Ugo Ehiogu being in charge next season as it stands, as too many players are going backwards.

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January 11, 2016

11/01/16 Tottenham Hotspur U21s 4-5 Chelsea U21s, Lamex Stadium

Tom Glover (18)
Luke Amos (18) Cameron Carter-Vickers (18) Milos Veljkovic (20) (c) Anthony Georgiou (18)
Filip Lesniak (19) Harry Winks (19)
Andros Townsend (24) Anton Walkes (18) Will Miller (19)
Shaq Coulthirst (21)

Emmanuel Sonupe for Lesniak, 57.
Joe Pritchard for Walkes, 73.
Cy Goddard for Miller, 82.

Sub not used:

Chelsea: Collins, Dabo, Tomori, Clarke-Salter, Dasilva, Colkett (c), Mitchell, Ali (Kiwomya 45), Abraham, Palmer, Musonda

With Kyle Walker-Peters on trial at Roda JC ahead of a probable loan move, and Connor Ogilvie on loan at Stevenage, Spurs lined up without a natural full-back. Defensive midfielder Luke Amos filled in on the right, and winger Anthony Georgiou started on the left.

With Shayon Harrison missing through injury, Nathan Oduwa, Dominic Ball, Grant Ward, Ogilvie and Walker-Peters on loan, and Josh Onomah recently promoted to the first team, Spurs lacked some of their best talent but still had smatterings of quality throughout the side.

The game began in an open, flowing style with both teams playing balls in behind for their wingers to chase; Chelsea’s winger won a corner off the retreating Georgiou which was easily cleared at the near post.

Charlie Musonda gave Luke Amos a scare when he beat him on the outside and put in a low cross, but Cameron Carter-Vickers was there to clear for a corner (which was overhit).

Georgiou on the other side stuck to his task well to dispossess Mitchell and set up a spell of Spurs possession, led by Winks and ending when Veljkovic’s angled long pass went straight out for a throw-in.

Winks was showing a willingness to take the ball under pressure in central midfield and with Veljkovic happy to step into midfield and switch play, Spurs were looking more than competent in possession, although Chelsea were keeping them at arm’s length.

A long ball from Carter-Vickers was nearly brought down in a great position by Will Miller, but it just got away from him and, although he did well to play the ball off his man for a corner, a goal-kick was awarded.

Luke Amos did well to win a free-kick through beating his man on the outside and being tripped, but Andros Townsend’s set-piece sailed out for a goal-kick. We’ll blame the wind for that one.

A poor pass from Lesniak trickled through a Chelsea man to find Townsend, but as he was dispossessed he looked to the referee, with no free-kick being awarded – he had a case that time.

Georgiou was guilty of a cynical foul out on the left, as Mitchell burst beyond him and Georgiou knocked him off the pitch with a lunge which fortunately went unpunished. Glover claimed the angled free-kick with ease.

Coulthirst made a good run in behind to get on the end of an excellent Veljkovic long-ball and, when he was fouled, Townsend swung in a fantastic right-footed (I really like that he can use both feet) free-kick which Carter-Vickers somehow missed.

Coulthirst then burst through the middle and his battle with Tomori ended in the Chelsea centre-back’s favour, as he made a strong challenge to force Shaq wide.

On 18 minutes it was 0-1 through Tammy Abraham. Tom Glover played a poor pass out from the back, Mitchell pounced on it on the right with Georgiou upfield; he ran forward and put it on a plate for Abraham to tap in.

It took just two minutes for Spurs to equalise. Winks found Miller with a really nice forward pass, Walkes held the ball and played it back for Georgiou. His first-time cross found Coulthirst, who had an awful lot to do, but he guided a looping header over Collins and into the corner.

Veljkovic made a terrific clearing header in his six-yard box, but from the resulting corner Tomori got on the end of a ball helped back in by Clarke-Salter and he headed home – he’d got between Georgiou and Carter-Vickers in doing so. Spurs are very poor at defending set pieces at this level.

Spurs put together a neat move on 24 minutes, with Walkes passing to Miller and the little attacking midfielder finding Georgiou, but he ran into a blind alley and the momentum was lost. From the resulting throw-in, though, Winks went on a driving run and was brought down right on the edge of the box. Townsend stepped up and nearly found the bottom corner of the net with the wall jumping in tandem.

Abraham got on the end of a Palmer pass and went down under pressure from Carter-Vickers – the referee somewhat generously waved play on as the ball ran away from the forward. I felt that our centre-back had clipped him – perhaps there wasn’t enough contact to justify a spot-kick being awarded.

At the other end, Townsend played in Coulthirst, but he tried to turn and shoot from a difficult angle when some composure was required. Townsend then whipped in a fantastic ball which Miller got on the end of, but it was blocked for a corner. Townsend’s corner was punched clear by Collins before Spurs made more headway through Winks and Miller linking nicely, but Townsend lost it on the right.

There was another terrific clearance again from Veljkovic with Palmer arriving behind him ready to finish a ball from wide, as the game became a little more open.

Winks made inroads don the left and fed Georgiou to cross, but it was a bit behind Coulthirst as he looked to turn. It went all the way through to Townsend though, and he took on two men, beating both and earning a free-kick from Musonda.

He took it himself — short to Amos — who returned it and, after eventually getting a cross in, it came to nothing.

Veljkovic gave the ball away cheaply in the Chelsea half but retreated and intercepted a poor pass form Musonda to win it back.

Coulthirst drove an effort well wide from another good Winks pass, before the forward then dropped off his man to control a Winks pass and find Townsend. His dangerous cross was cleared to Winks but his shot was blocked.

Townsend made another burst down the right and his cross was a good one which Coulthirst perhaps could have done better with – he was caught on his heels a little.

Chelsea won a free-kick just on the stroke of half-time. Colkett whipped it in left-footed and Carter-Vickers met it with a strong header.

The teams went in level at half-time – it was generally a good half from Spurs, who were the better team in open play. Glover made a bad error and then the team let themselves down defending a set piece (again).

The second half began with Kiwomya (nephew of Chris) replacing Ali for Chelsea. He played on the right with Mitchell switching to the left.

Cameron Carter-Vickers made a thundering challenge on Musonda early in he half as the Chelsea man looked to run in behind, before Spurs got into their stride again, Winks heavily involved as he was in the first half.

Chelsea made it 3-1 through a calm finish from Palmer. Abraham rolled Veljkovic too easily from a throw-in, and Carter-Vickers gave Palmer too much space to finish from his cross.

Abraham had another chance when Mitchell got in behind (with three Spurs players left appealing for a free-kick) and his volley at an awkward height was wayward.

Spurs were struggling to get a foothold in the game, but some strong challenges from Winks and then Coulthirst showed that they had not given up just yet.

As the game became a bit more attritional, Ehiogu made his first change, bringing on Emmanuel Sonupe for Lesniak. This saw Winks play at the base of a midfield three (or a 4-1-4-1), flanked by Miller and Walkes.

Twice in quick succession the hard-working but limited Walkes had the ball in good areas on the break but failed to find Coulthirst with through-balls.

Dasilva was defending much better one-on-one agaisnt Townsend in this half, and three times in quick succession he got the better of his man.

Winks lost out to Palmer, who played Abraham through. Glover darted out to pick up the pieces but then tok a touch t get onto his right foot and got a little lucky when toe-poking clear to a teammate.

Townsend whipped in a fantastic right-footed ball after being found by Miller, but Coulthirst, again, couldn’t get on the end of it.

Soon after, Carter-Vickers gave the ball away cheaply, Kiwomya broke down the right but the centre-back threw himself into a challenge and made up for his error. Veljkovic then went to ground in the box to clear the ball.

Townsend got down the right again and played in yet another fine cross but Sonupe got his volley all wrong, possibly put off by Coulthirst’s attempted overhead kick.

Winks showed his quality once more, beating men and carrying the ball forward, but he had few options with Spurs’ final third movement lacking.

Winks then had the ball in midfield and frustratedly raised his hands, asking for movement. At that moment, Veljkovic stepped into midfield and received the ball from Winks. He took his time and played a clever slide-rule pass through to Coulthirst who clipped the ball over the keeper to make it 2-3. A great pass and clever finish.

On 73 minutes Walkes was replaced by Joe Pritchard as Spurs stepped up the pressure.

Abraham got between Georgiou and Veljkovic, brought a ball down and smashed it straight at Glover. Spurs went up the other end and Sonupe played a lovely cross towards Pritchard – it drifted agonisingly beyond him.

Pritchard pinged a lovely ball through to Sonupe who cut inside his man and smashed a wonderful low drive goal-wards. Collins did well to keep it out and Townsend’s corner was cleared well by Abraham.

Sonupe did well to beat Dabo but Collins was equal to his shot again – Sonupe had made a difference though.

Georgiou was booked for tugging back Kiwomya as the Chelsea winger got the better of him on the left – Georgiou being caught up-field as Spurs pressed or a goal.

Colkett’s shot went over as Carter-Vickers and Pritchard battled to stop him scoring.

Winks then played a lovely pass out to Sonupe who ran at Dabo and went down under pressure, but this time Dabo had defended him well.

It was 2-4 when left-back Jay Dasilva scored the goal of the night. He cut in on his weaker right foot as Pritchard committed himself, and curled a wonderful shot over Glover.

Goddard replaced the tiring Will Miller on 82 minutes.

Carter-Vickers got caught on the ball by Abraham, but managed to recover and pushed him wide.

On 85 minutes Cy Goddard had an almost instant impact as he won a penalty with quick feet to beat Tomori in the box. Andros Townsend found the corner with his kick.

Glover took a chance dribbling past Abraham deep in his box but got away with it.

Spurs equalised when Coulthirst got the ball wide early to Townsend, who went on the outside of Dasilva and drove firm, right-footed shot under Collins – a great goal from Townsend, who was carrying the fight.

Veljkovic did really well to make a solid challenge as Musonda strode through to try to nick it in the 92nd minute. Spurs went up the other end through Townsend and Pritchard had the ball nicked away as he went to strike. The action went straight down the other end again and Glover stood firm to stop Abraham, getting a strong left-hand to a fierce effort.

Chelsea took the lead again when a free-kick was floated into the box. Abraham held off Veljkovic, Carter-Vickers didn’t get close enough to Clarke-Salter, and he finished brilliantly across Glover.

It was a breath-taking match to watch and a gruelling match for both teams, with some naive midfield play leaving both defences exposed. Winks and Townsend both had fantastic matches for Spurs, with the talented centre-back pairing struggling against Chelsea’s excellent forward, Tammy Abraham. Of course, the centre-backs were not helped by having a make-shift full-back either side of them and the holding midfielder being withdrawn as Spurs looked for goals.

The win moved Chelsea up to 7th on 14 points and Spurs stayed 3rd on 18 points, one point off second.

Glover 4 – Young Aussie Tom is having a bit of a rough patch at the moment, occasionally inviting pressure onto himself by taking unnecessary risks in trying to play out from the back. His left-handed save at the end was him at his best, though, and he’ll come back stronger from this performance.
Amos 5 – Luke is very much filling in at right-back, and I am getting increasingly concerned about him playing out of position week in, week out. A talented central midfielder, it’s time he got a run of games there.
Carter-Vickers 5 – this was not a good game for the strong centre-back, who struggled with Abraham throughout and found himself giving players too much space in the box. He was constantly having to react to his own mistakes tonight.
Veljkovic 5 – not his best match and, sadly, possibly his last. However, he played a lovely pass through to Coulthirst for the second goal, and looked good pretty much every time he stepped into midfield – perhaps he should be starting in his alternative position of defensive midfield instead.
Georgiou 5 – did an adequate job of filling in, and provided some attacking impetus. Got caught out a few times – that was inevitable as it is not his normal position. The booking he did get could easily have been his second – he was lucky to get away with a cynical foul early on.
Lesniak 6 – didn’t stand out, but we missed him defensively once he came off. He keeps things simple and takes up useful positions, without ever excelling.
Winks 9 – an excellent performance in which his decision-making, close control and temperament stood out. Can be relied upon to do the right thing nine times out of ten.
Andros Townsend 9 – a constant threat, he whipped in some fantastic crosses and could have had three assists for Coulthirst alone. Took his two goals well, particularly the second.
Walkes 4 – a bit of a struggle for the ever-willing Walkes. I just cannot see the logic of him playing as a ten – he’d be better off covering full-back right now.
Miller 6 – started off really positively and helped to set the tempo. Faded a little and needs more games to build up his match fitnes.
Coulthirst 7 – gets a seven for his two excellent finishes, but really he should have scored more, and he still struggles to create a platform. He has been training with Fleetwood Town, presumably ahead of a permanent move.

Sonupe – nice, positive impact for the wide man.
Pritchard – it’s lovely to see him back, having recovered from a broken leg. Added some attacking thrust but did commit himself for Dasilva’s goal.
Goddard – instant impact in winning the penalty. For me, he’d be starting as a ten in place of Walkes. May not cope physically, but we won’t know until he’s tried.

In closing, I feel that Ugo Ehiogu’s not helping us with a pairing of Walkes and Coulthirt at the sharp end. Both are hard-working players with tenacity, but both lack finesse and ability. In addition, Luke Amos — a talented pivot player — is being held back by filling in at full-back. There will be a clear-out at the end of this season that will see a number of these players leaving. With this in mind, I expect a few of the better Under-18 players to be given games before the season is out (the likes of Bennetts, Sterling, Edwards and perhaps even Shashoua).

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September 6, 2015

05/09/15 Tottenham Hotspur U18s 0-3 Fulham U18s, Hotspur Way

Tom McDermott (17)
Charlie Hayford (17) George Marsh (16) Jon Dinzeyi (15) Nick Tsaroulla (16)
Dylan Duncan (16) Zenon Stylianides (17)
Armani Daly (17) Sam Shashoua (16) Keanan Bennetts (16)
Ryan Loft (17)

Nya Kirby (15) for Dylan Duncan
Tashan Oakley-Boothe (15) for Armani Daly
Aremide Oteh (15) for Keanan Bennetts

Sub not used:
Brandon Austin (16)

Due to various players being away on international duty (Sterling, Edwards, Whiteman, Roles and presumably Paul and Owens) or injured (Tanganga), Spurs were able to give opportunities to younger players and fringe players in this match.

Stylianides and Loft provided the most experience in an otherwise youthful team, and Charlie Hayford – who started life as a right winger but was converted to central midfield – played at right-back. Under-16 player Jon Dinzeyi partnered George Marsh (usually a midfielder) at centre-back in the absence of Joy Mukena (also injured?).

Spurs had the first shot at goal, when Hayford’s free-kick was curled wide with less than five minutes gone.

Loft then broke forward and was half-tackled with the ball falling to Bennetts, but the keeper rushed out to block him.

Bennetts turned Fulhams’ Marlon Fossey very easily and was hauled down – the referee giving the benefit of the doubt and not showing a yellow card.

Fulham had a great chance when a cross from their right nearly fell kindly, but Hayford and Marsh managed to shepherd the ball away between them.

Bennetts skipped past his man and was fouled, the ball falling to Daly who had a shot saved by the fingertips of Taye Ashby-Hammond. Shashoua’s corner didn’t beat the first man.

Loft had a vicious strike from distance which went over the bar, before Fulham took the lead. Duncan lost the ball in midfield, and Dennis Adeniran played the ball through to Joshua Walker who showed terrific pace to get beyond Dinzeyi, and he chipped McDermott beautifully.

Dylan Duncan showed nice, quick feet to drive across the edge of the box, but was fouled in the process. The ball broke for Sam Shashoua who took a bad touch, it came to Bennetts but he skewed a shot wide with his left foot.

George Marsh won the ball, Spurs broke through Stylianides who cut in and drove wide of the near post with his right foot.

Fulham’s Adebayo put an opportunity over from a set piece with Tom McDermott prone on the ground – Humphreys had headed Thorsteinsson’s free-kick back across goal and McDermott took a whack when competing for the second ball.

Loft headed Hayford’s cross wide and then Ravi Shamsi’s corner was headed away by Loft as the first half came to a close.

Shashoua was booked for dissent a few minutes into the second half, before Keanan Bennetts had another good chance at the far post from Daly’s cross. With Loft just unable to climb high enough to reach the ball, it fell to Bennetts, but he hit the side netting.

Walker burst through our defence soon after but McDermott was out quickly to repel his shot.

Hayford’s ball from deep was attacked by Bennetts but it just went over.

Fulham won a penalty when Bennetts fouled Dennis Adeniran right on the edge of the box, but Walker’s spot kick hit the outside of the post with McDermott diving the wrong way.

Dinzeyi fouled Thorsteinsson out on the left touchline and got a talking to from the referee, before Hayford drove over the bar with his weaker left foot at the other end.

Thorsteinsson crossed for Humphreys but he smashed his shot wide at the near post.

Nya Kirby came on for his first appearance at Under-18 level, replacing Duncan and slotting into the middle of midfield.

His first involvement saw him play the ball to Hayford and then nearly get on the end of Hayford’s near-post cross. Hayford’s corner was lofted up and easily claimed by the goalkeeper.

Hayford and Humphreys had a bit of a falling out on the right when Hayford complained to the referee after a particularly strong sliding tackle from the enormous Humphreys, which led to the Fulham man giving him a rather sinister ‘watch out for the next one’ warning in full-on Northern (they hugged it out after the match).

It was 2-0 when Spurs lost possession and Ryan Sessegnon used his pace to get past Hayford and crossed for Thorsteinsson to head home. McDermott seemed to get two hands to the ball but didn’t keep it out.

Bennetts and Daly were replaced by Oakley-Boothe and Oteh but the game was out of reach when Humphreys made it 3-0; he had space to turn in the box and drove a shot right through McDermott after Spurs lacked numbers at the back post from a cross.

Humphreys then hit the outside of the post from a Thorsteinsson free-kick.

Oakley-Boothe went on a surging run forward and played the ball to Oteh on the edge of the box. He held it up and returned the favour to Kirby, who got a shot away, but Ashby-Hammond blocked it with his legs.

Tom McDermott saved a one-on-one before Humphreys put a free-kick wide.

Kirby had our final chance when he hit a fierce drive at goal after an excellent Shashoua turn, but it was easily held by Ashby-Hammond.

Spurs found a physically imposing Fulham side difficult to deal with, and couldn’t get past a very solid centre-back pairing who also had a lot of protection from midfield. We struggled to control possession with two central midfielders who seem to be more confident driving forward with the ball – Owens would have probably helped in that regard.

Our team was younger, smaller, and a lot more naive than Fulham’s, but they will have learned lessons from this match. Jon Dinzeyi at centre-back was our outstanding player & Marsh did well filling in at the back as well. 3-0 seemed harsh on the pair of them, as they largely did a good job at repelling Fulham – our issues were mainly in midfield.

My ratings look a little low this time out, but my caveat is that I’m prepared to use the full 1-10 range! So a 5 is really just a little under-par (5.5 being in the middle).

McDermott 4 – this was not a good game for the young goalkeeper, but he will rarely have come up against a team as physically strong as this.
Hayford 6 – had a tough match against some talented Fulham players. He kept working hard for the team, though, and showed some ability. At one point he cushioned a firmly hit McDermott pass beautifully over a defender on the volley, but it wasn’t read by Daly – this was the story of his day.
Tsaroulla 6 – had to be constantly on his toes against the talented Thorsteinsson, and perhaps didn’t get as much support as he needed.
Marsh 7 – read the game well and tried to compete physically despite clearly being at a disadvantage in this regrd.
Dinzeyi 8 – a player that has only come onto my radar recently, but I am told that he has been at Spurs for at least six years, starting as central midfielder and then moving to the wing. Last season he was predominantly a centre-back and this is the poition he has settled on. Tall, athletic, good on the ball. I like him a lot.
Stylianides 5 – captained the side but couldn’t get the team playing fluently. There was a lot of pressure on him as one of the eldest players in the team, and perhaps that got to him a little.
Duncan 5 – had some good touches, but had a tough time against an ultra-physical team.
Daly 5 – was often on the periphery of the action and struggled to get the better of the excellent Sessegnon.
Shashoua 6 – quick feet and a quick brain. Really looking forward to seeing more of him – an obvious talent who suffered a little against strong opposition.
Bennetts 5 – will have been disappointed not to get on the score sheet as he had a few chances, but it wasn’t really his day.
Loft 5 – I thought that his more robust, old-fashioned style might have been useful against two enormous centre-backs, but they largely negated his threat.

Kirby – a lively cameo which will show the coaches that he’s ready for early promotion to this level.
Oakley-Boothe – another massive talent. I cannot wait to see more of him over the next few years.
Oteh – difficult to judge him on this showing, but he showed good strength on the edge of the box on a couple of occasions.

As a slight aside, ex-QPR and Watford centre-back ‘One Size’ Fitz Hall was also there watching the match with a young child – perhaps his kid is in the Spurs Academy, or maybe he has ties to Fulham?

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August 15, 2015

Loanee Update – August 2015

Pre-season is over, the scouting has been done and loan moves are starting to happen now. This week we’ve gone from having one player out on loan to having five:

Grant Ward – Rotherham United (Championship) – January
Nathan Oduwa – Rangers (Scottish Championship) – season
Dominic Ball – Rangers (Scottish Championship) – season
Shaq Coulthirst – Wigan (League One) – October
Connor Ogilvie – Stevenage (League Two) – 14th September

Grant Ward – Rotherham United (Championship)

Ward has joined Rotherham United and has already made a couple of appearances. He was withdrawn from a central midfield role at half-time on his debut against MK Dons, as Rotherham struggled in general. The Star wrote that Ward had ‘struggled to impose himself’. He then came on to play 17 minutes at on the right against Cambridge United in the League Cup.

Having done so well in League One with Coventry City last season, Ward will be looking to be a mainstay of the Rotherham team in the Championship. Should he do so, he’ll have essentially done what Alex Pritchard did last season, but a year sooner in his development.

Nathan Oduwa & Dominic Ball – Rangers (Scottish Championship)

Mark Warburton has used his relationship with Spurs to acquire two youngsters who are ready to make the next step. As a Spurs fan and co-founder of the NextGen Series (which Spurs participated in) Warburton has a real appreciation of Spurs’ academy, and worked wonders with Pritchard last season.

Oduwa and Ball both played League Two football last year and – whilst the quality of the Scottish Championship might not be substantially better – the experience of playing in front of 51,000 fans every other week will benefit them enormously.

Nathan Oduwa will get Rangers fans off their seats. He is a very tricky customer, possessing terrific close control and dribbling ability. He sometimes appears to not be in full control of the ball, but will then somehow emerge from the tightest of spaces with it still at his feet. His finishing certainly needs some honing, but there are not many 19-year olds that are complete players. Oduwa mostly plays on the left wing, but could do a job as a number 10 or even a number 9 if called upon.

Dominic Ball is a robust centre-back who is competent in possession. He undoubtedly has ability and reads the game well for a 20-year old. My concern is that he can be a little rash when defending – sometimes committing himself too early in an effort to be proactive. He will come across some wily players and if he can play a full season, it’ll do him the world of good.

It’s easy to turn your nose up at our players going to the Scottish Championship, but you must remember that matches are only one part of a loan move – players are training all week, and so the coaches that they are with must be of sufficient quality to have an impact. Mark Warburton is a fantastic coach for our young players to learn from (as we saw with Pritchard last year) and the Spurs hierarchy clearly have enormous faith in him.

Ball revealed in this interview that he trained with Warburton when he played for Watford between the ages of 11 and 15, and that will certainly make the transition easier for him.

Shaq Coulthirst – Wigan (League One)

Coulthirst has clocked up 39 appearances League Two appearances across four clubs, scoring eight goals. He now has an opportunity to progress to League One.

His first loan was actually in League One (for Leyton Orient) and he scored on his debut (having come off the bench). But he was sent back to Spurs at the end of that one-month loan having played just seven minutes. 18 months on, it’s an opportunity for him to test himself again and see whether he now has the physicality and the ability to make an impression.

Coulthirst is a whole-hearted player – a trier, if you will – and if he fails to cut it, it certainly won’t be down to his attitude. He seems to want to make it as a central striker, but I feel that wide left is his best option – I am not sure that his finishing and hold up play are good enough to justify him playing up top.

Connor Ogilvie – Stevenage (League Two)

19-year old Connor Ogilvie has made his first loan move, and will be working under former Spurs great, Teddy Sheringham.

Ogilvie was a real favourite of mine at Under-18 level. He played at both left-back and centre-back, but was most impressive on the left, where he had the opportunity to overlap; he was a genuine creative influence from there. His eye-catching performances in 2013/14 saw him drafted into the first team for Europa League trips to Tromso and Benfica, and he was obviously well liked by the England coaching set-up too – he won 15 caps at U16 and U17 level.

Since stepping up to the U21s, though, he seems to have stagnated a little. He made 16 appearances last season, but in the games that I saw he seemed a lot more reserved than I had become used to. Whether that was a lack of confidence, or a slight struggle against older, stronger players I am unsure. I was, however, very encouraged by Ogilvie’s showing in the Tottenham Hotspur XI’s 2-0 win over Stevenage at The Lamex Stadium, and he obviously caught Sheringham’s eye too.

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August 1, 2015

01/08/15 Stevenage 0-2 Tottenham Hotspur XI, The Lamex Stadium

Tom Glover (17)
Kyle Walker-Peters (18) Dominic Ball (19) Cameron Carter-Vickers (17) (c) Connor Ogilvie (19)
Filip Lesniak (19) Milos Veljkovic (19)
Emmanuel Sonupe (19) Ismail Azzaoui (17) Nathan Oduwa (19)
Shayon Harrison (18)

Cy Goddard (18)
Luke Amos (18)
Kenny McEvoy (20)
Anton Walkes (18)

Unused subs:
Harry Voss (18)
Christian Maghoma (17)

It was a dry but cloudy afternoon at the Lamex – the home of Stevenage as well as Spurs’ Under-21 team (or ‘Development Squad’, as the club tends to refer to it).

Spurs’ side was made up mostly of the players that travelled to Ploufragan in France for the recent National Under-21 Tournament, in which we finished fourth (although only lost one match in normal time). As well as the players from that squad we fielded Australian goalkeeper Tom Glover, who was with the first team in Denver. Cameron Carter-Vickers was captain for the day.

Stevenage are now managed by an early hero of mine, Teddy Sheringham, and I was hoping that it would be clear that he is trying to develop an attractive style of football – more on that later.

Stevenage played something between a 4-5-1 and a 4-1-4-1 with a big number 9 (who I think was Brett Williams) up front and ex-Spurs youth players Dean Parrett (8) and Charlie Lee (10) in the centre of midfield behind him. 18-year old Dipo Akinyemi started wide on the left. Lee captained their side.

Spurs started in the typical 4-2-3-1, with two defensive midfielders sitting in front of a strong centre-back pairing. Shayon Harrison led the line, with Ismail Azzaoui in behind him. Nathan Oduwa – who has impressed in pre-season for the first team – played on the left.

As the players started to settle into a rhythm, Milos Veljkovic looked to go long over the top to Harrison, but just over-hit his pass. Cameron Carter-Vickers was confident enough early on to step and play the big Stevenage number 9 offside – leading by example. On 3 minutes, there was a wonderful switch of play from Veljkovic to Connor Ogilvie at left-back, although his cross was blocked.

Stevenage signalled their intentions to play physically when a nudge on Dominic Ball from the number 9 sent him sprawling into the hoardings – Ball had got ahead of him easily and didn’t complain at the unnecessary treatment he received.

The first opening of the game came when Kyle Walker-Peters showed some neat footwork to beat his man, played a pass to Azzaoui who found him again with a lovely return pass into the inside right channel. Walker-Peter’s cross went all the way across the box and Ogilvie fouled his man at the back post in trying to meet it.

With six minutes gone, Ogilvie cleared his second ball of the day straight over the stand and out of the ground!

A minute later it was 1-0 to Spurs. Oduwa made his first serious surge forward – he burst through three players and got a low shot away with his left foot on the angle which bounced up (either off a defender or the goalkeeper) and went in the far post.

Stevenage went immediately up the other end and their strong number 3 overlapped and got a cross in which Tom Glover claimed at the near post in commanding fashion.

Azzaoui took possession in his own half and tried to drop an ambitious diagonal ball over the top for Sonupe, but he put too much on it on this occasion.

Tenacious midfielder Dean Parrett was sticking close to Azzaoui, and frequently nicked the ball away from him – he was clearly targeted as a danger man (rightly). Veljkovic then nearly found the breaking Azzaoui with another nice pass but it was intercepted.

Veljkovic’s cross-field switch to Sonupe was well struck, but the winger failed to take it in his stride with his head and it ran out of play.

Harrison had our second effort on goal – he got a weak shot away after latching onto an Ogilvie pass, but it was never troubling Stevenage.

Stevenage were happy to let our centre-backs have possession but pressed as soon as they stepped into midfield or laid it into a midfielder. Dominic Ball strode out of defence, but was well-chased by the number 9 and was robbed just as he was about to make a pass.

Spurs won a corner as Sonupe laid off to Walker-Peters and tried to run in behind the full-back. The Stevenage player positioned himself well but a poor touch took the ball over the line. Azzaoui’s right foot corner was headed over at the back post by Carter-Vickers.

Veljkovic was adept at dropping into centre-back to allow Ball to push up, and on one occasion Ball did so and found Harrison who was easily robbed – not for the first time. Veljkovic then received a poor pass in midfield but won it back and gave it simple, taking care to maintain possession and continue to frustrate Stevenage.

Oduwa showed good tenacity to block a ball from the full-back and then tore off after it – he stood the same player up but then when another got back to help out he couldn’t beat two, and on this occasion he chose the wrong option in not passing.

Some naive defending from Dominic Ball on the Spurs right led to a Stevenage free-kick, which Glover claimed superbly.

Stevenage had started the game in an overly physical manner, but that didn’t prepare me for what happened next. Charlie Lee absolutely scythed down Oduwa with a tackle that was late and high. Oduwa was left unconscious, and it quickly became clear that there was concern for him, as teammates knelt down close to him as he received treatment. His treatment lasted for 7 minutes before he was stretchered off and replaced by Cy Goddard. Challenges like this are part of the game, and something that our young players will need to get used to – especially lower down the football pyramid and when you have as much ability as Oduwa (which can frustrate opponents). But that sort of challenge in a friendly match – which will have likely been agreed as part of the deal by which they provide a home for our Under-21 side – was totally uncalled for. Lee picked up a yellow card, but it would have been red in any other context. Thankfully Oduwa was fine once he regained consciousness and he was able to watch the second half.

Cy Goddard moved into the number 10 position, with Azzaoui shifting out to the left – the position he mostly played for the Under-18s last season. The young Belgian drew applause with a nice drag back to retain possession – clearly unperturbed by the physical treatment that his teammate had received!

On the other side, Emmanuel Sonupe tried to play a one-two with Ogilvie but played the ball straight into touch.

A really positive burst down the left from Ogilvie (a feature throughout) saw him get onto a Lesniak pass and play a nice ball into Harrison in the box. His clever back-heel nearly found Goddard, but it was cleared for a corner, which the goalkeeper claimed at the second attempt.

On 44 minutes, Sonupe beat his man and got a cross in, but it was hacked away for a corner. Azzaui’s kick was attacked by Ball and fell kindly for the defender to play it back into the penalty area, but the cross was headed clear.

Carter-Vickers showed his calm style with a commanding piece of play at the back, stepping across his man to retain possession and allowing Glover to mop up with a clearance.

Spurs continued their assault down the flanks when Walker-Peters played in Sonupe deep on the right. The winger dug out an excellent cross but it was headed clear from within the six-yard box.

In the 7 minutes of stoppage time, Carter-Vickers displayed another piece of solid defending against Akinyemi – standing his ground and letting his opponent’s poor touch do the work, resulting in a goal kick to Spurs.

Goddard tried to thread a pass through to Azzaoui but it was not quite weighted well enough and the keeper snaffled it.

The final action saw Sonupe produce an up and under cross, but Goddard started his run from deep and couldn’t quite get on the end of it.

Stevenage made five substitutions at half-time, and four of the incoming players were trialists. One of those to leave the field was Charlie Lee – the ex-Spur being the one who injured Oduwa in the first half. 40-year old goalkeeper, Chris Day, another ex-Spur, also went off. Spurs made no further changes.

Stevenage changed their shape at various points, with Akinyemi playing up with the number 9, and this gave Spurs something to think about.

Tom Glover was keen to pass the ball out at every opportunity, and in one such situation he laid a pass to Lesniak in midfield, who retained the ball well under pressure from two opponents and spun 360 degrees in the centre circle to find space.

Ten minutes into the half Connor Ogilvie lost his third ball of the day with another big clearance – this one was later thrown back onto the outfield, though!

Glover claimed another corner and played a quick ball out to Azzaoui, who beat Stevenage’s number 21, made space and got a shot away which was blocked.

Parrett and Dale Gorman were trying to get on top of the physically small Goddard, but he used his low centre of gravity to wriggle into space and won a free kick. The free-kick on this occasion was played square and wasted.

Azzaoui made space in the box again and got another shot away – this time the goalkeeper closed his legs quickly to block.

Stevenage came close to equalising when a deep corner was headed over Glover and Lesniak was needed to head it off the line. Glover then blocked the follow-up before a final shot was fired well wide.

Harrison had a lovely effort on goal which was going in at the near post but the keeper got down well to palm it wide. Azzaoui’s corner was too deep for Carter-Vickers and sailed harmlessly out for a goal kick.

Luke Amos replaced Filip Lesniak on 69 minutes and played just ahead of Veljkovic – a slightly more advanced role than usual.

Spurs had typically tried to play out from Glover whenever possible, but when Stevenage squeezed up on one occasion, Veljkovic made a long run forward to provide a target up front from the goal kick. He didn’t win the ball – mostly as he was clearly held from behind by the centre-back he was jumping with. The referee struggled to spot shirt-pulling and pushes throughout, and let Stevenage play a very physical game.

Carter-Vickers muscled another Stevenage man off the ball and carried the ball out despite challenges coming from all angles, but Spurs lost the ball and committed a foul in trying to win it back. From the resulting free-kick, Akinyemi missed a glorious chance. The number 16 crossed well, Akinyemi lost Sonupe and sent his diving header across goal but wide. Ball was not best pleased with Sonupe’s defending!

Kenny McEvoy replaced Sonupe on 75 minutes, and Spurs reverted to a 4-3-1-2, with McEvoy up top on the right, Harrison left, with Azzaoui in behind them centrally.

Harrison had an opportunity to make it 2-0 when the Stevenage goalkeeper received a back-pass and kicked it straight at Harrison, although it bounced off him to safety and the trialist keeper quickly dived on the loose ball.

A neat Spurs move on the edge of the box showed potential, but Goddard over-hit his pass out for a goal kick.

Walkes replaced Walker-Peters at right-back for the final few minutes, and a minute later Spurs secured the win. Luke Amos sent Harrison through, he rounded the goalkeeper but was upended in doing so. He stepped up to send the keeper the wrong way from the spot.

Veljkovic won a superb tackle in midfield and then spread play well to Walkes – all of which typified his performance – and the final action saw Amos intelligently win a free-kick on edge of box which Azzaoui clipped into the wall and wide.

This was a stern test for a very young Spurs side against a much older, much more physical outfit. Stevenage’s style was surprising given that 1. it was a friendly and 2. they are managed by Sheringham, who was such an elegant player (and not at all dirty). I felt that perhaps a few of the Stevenage players set out to try to intimidate the Spurs boys, and got carried away when it didn’t really pan out for them.

It was notable that Spurs looked to play lots of long diagonals and cross-field passes in this match, much like the first team vs MLS All-Stars in midweek. Perhaps this is a move towards a slightly more direct style, with quick changes of the direction of attacks being a feature.

Glover 8 – a very commanding performance from the young Aussie. Claimed the ball consistently well (perhaps he’d been watching Joe Root in midweek) and distributed it smartly too.
Walker-Peters 7 – very secure defensively, and keen to support Sonupe without ever really going on any of his trademark mazy runs. Perhaps a bit more reserved than he is in Under-18 and Under-21 football due to the standard of the opposition.
Ball 6 – made one error of judgement down on the right when he needlessly committed a foul, but was otherwise sound and used the ball sensibly.
Cater-Vickers 8 – a very dominant showing, as we’ve come to expect.
Ogilvie 7 – it was really nice to see him get back to the sort of form I’d come to see from him in Under-18 football. A willing outlet on the left, willing to bomb forward to support the attack. I hope he has a better year this year as he’s a player I like; I felt he stagnated a bit last term.
Veljkovic 9 – wonderfully composed on the ball with a very useful range of passing; solid in the tackle; intelligent reading of the game. What’s not to like? I am slightly baffled as to why Pochettino doesn’t love him as much as I do, and I can only think that it’s because he doesn’t play with the high intensity that Pochettino demands. I’ve heard murmurings of a Championship loan – he’s better than that at this point and – in my opinion – should be getting outings for us in the Europa League and League Cup.
Lesniak 6 – a neat and a tidy performance, as is the standard from the Slovakian midfielder. I am unclear on his situation – first he was rumoured to have left Spurs, then he started appearing again… and now apparently a Championship club has shown interest in him, although I have no idea if that would be a loan or permanent move.
Sonupe 5 – struggled to have an impact for large periods against a very physical side.
Azzaoui 7 – a prominent figure in most of our attacks, and caused problems for the Stevenage defence with his movement and close control.
Oduwa 8 – was looking a real threat until his afternoon was ended by a crunching challenge. Did so well for the opening goal.
Harrison 5 – came to life just before the end with a great shot, and then did well to win and score the penalty, although he struggled a fair amount against big, strong centre-backs. He had a couple of sloppy touches when receiving the ball with his back to goal, and was easily beaten in the air by the Stevenage defenders, who were so much taller than him. This game will have been a really useful one for him – a bit of an eye-opener.

Goddard 6 – some nice footwork as ever, but his end product was lacking at times.
Amos – very effective cameo in a slightly more advanced position than usual.
McEvoy – ran around a bit.
Walkes – didn’t have enough time to make an impact.

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