November 28, 2013
Will we see some Spurs youngsters making debuts this evening. As you may know, we have a few young professionals in the Europa League squad:
Some of these were only added to the squad in the last week – Miles, Fredericks, McEvoy and Coulthirst.
Harry Kane has a back injury, and Kevin Stewart hasn’t travelled, but we know that Coulthirst, McEvoy, Dombaxe, Fredericks and Miles are in Norway. I would presume that Archer and Fryers are also there.
Nabil Bentaleb, who is training with the first team squad regularly, is unfortunately unable to be included as a List B player as he’s not been at the club long enough.
In case you are unaware of those players likely to be in the match-day squad, here’s a line on each:
Jon Miles – 20-year old goalkeeper who started two games on loan at Dagenham & Redbridge on loan last year. You may recognise him from some of the Spurs TV online videos.
Laste Dombaxe – an 18-year old central midfielder from Angola. Came into the Under-18 side very early (at just 15), and has progressed to the Under-21s since then. A midfielder who is a good all-rounder – has a decent short-passing game, but good defensively too.
Kenny McEvoy – 19-year old winger, who mostly plays on the right. Good pace, decent delivery, and a goal threat too.
Shaq Coulthirst – 19-year old forward, who often plays on the left, cutting in and using his right foot. A tenacious player with a bit of a spring in his step – puts defenders under pressure, and knows where the goal is.
It would be excellent to finally see some of the younger players getting an opportunity – even if it’s just being included on the bench, it can really motivate our youngsters to want to get back there again.
I’ve personally been a little disappointed with the lack of opportunities for young players on the whole. Some would argue that the involvement of Rose, Fryers, and Kane shows a willingness to play them, but I personally take issue with:
- Not using Kane more after he made an impact against Cardiff City in the league, and Aston Villa/Hull City in the League Cup.
- Sending Carroll on loan when we really lack a passer in deep midfield – I personally think that just the occasional few minutes at the end of last season could have seen him fully integrated by now. And even without that, he could have been a useful impact sub (at least) this season.
- Selling Luongo. A decision I think we’ll regret at some point.
Levy fought so hard to have an extra two substitute spots added, citing the option of involving young players as one of the reasons… yet we hardly ever have youngsters on the bench.
The Under-18s are going along pretty nicely, but the Under-21s league is a shambles, not helped by the lack of NextGen Series (at least partly thanks to the UEFA Youth League, I think). Our Under-21s have not played an official match in November. In fact, they’ve not played a competitive fixture since 21st October (one was scheduled but postponed).
The development squad play infrequent friendlies (apparently McEvoy impressed in one last week), but the issues are:
That the matches aren’t regular enough.
That means that scouts don’t get to see the players often.
It also means that players lack match sharpness.
Which means that scouts don’t get to see them at their best when they do see them.
Culminating in a lack of loan opportunities for our 3rd year scholars/trainees – and there are plenty of them.
I think the big emphasis on nurturing youngsters is paying off to an extent. We made great money on Caulker, and of course we got £400k (+ a sell-on clause) for Luongo. We’ve also got Townsend who is now worth a considerable amount of money, Livermore who we could sell for upwards of £4m in Jan should we want to, as well as Kane and Carroll who are turning heads. Bentaleb’s probably next in line, with Veljkovic hopefully not far behind. But obviously we need to be aiming to bring through first team players rather than bringing them through to sell them; that has to be the ideal.
For me we have so much talent bubbling under the surface that we could be doing even more. I look at Ryan Mason and I look at players like James McCarthy at Everton or Tom Cleverley at United, and I don’t see much difference. For me, if Mason had been given a few opportunities earlier in his career he’d be an established squad member by now. He’s a real talent. Injury prone, but a real talent. Check out what a Swindon fan thinks of he, Pritchard and Hall.
Good luck to our youngsters this evening.
As an aside, the Emergency Loan window closes for Football League clubs at 5pm today, so there is a chance that we could see young players leaving on loan.
November 26, 2013
Jake Livermore has started ten games for Hull City (and made one substitute appearance) and has become a firm favourite. He’s impressed so much that the majority of Hull’s fan-base want Livermore to sign permanently. When questioned on whether he’d consider signing for Hull permanently, Livermore said
“I’m prepared for anything in football. I’m enjoying my time here, I love the lads, the manager and the fans. Everyone here is brilliant and I’m getting a run of games so it’s so far, so good.”
He gave The Telegraph a very interesting interview on young, English footballers in which he spoke a lot of sense:
“I don’t think the biggest problem facing English football is producing players, I think the biggest problem is giving young players enough experience in the Premier League.”
Steve Bruce has admitted that he’s worried about Livermore returning to Spurs in January, saying: “There is a possibility that Jake and Danny [Graham] will be going back to their parent clubs, and that is something we just have to live with. I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened, and we have to be ready for it. It’s a concern.”
Most Spurs fans were surprised to see Benoit Assou-Ekotto sent on loan to QPR at the end of the transfer window. There were rumours of an off-pitch incident with Andre Villas-Boas, and you’d have to think that this was the case, given that Assou-Ekotto is so far beyond Kyle Naughton in terms of left-back competition; it can surely only have been a breach of discipline or a falling out that triggered the move. Assou-Ekotto insists that playing for Redknapp was the reason that he was tempted to QPR:
“I’m enjoying being here. I love working with Harry. He was the main reason I came. The fans have been great to me too.”
He’s made nine starts and one substitute appearance so far, and the fans seem to have taken to him judging by this thread.
Tom Carroll played four matches for QPR before being struck down by an ankle injury. The fan verdicts were mixed, but the players seem keen, Karl Henry saying:
“We’ve missed Tom Carroll since his injury, because he’s done fantastically well for us.”
The good news is that Carroll is due to return to QPR early next week after recovering from injury.
Whilst the fans don’t love him (yet), his statistics look mighty impressive. Across his four appearances, he’s averaging 13 more passes (82.3) than the next player in the Championship (Joey Barton, 68.9), which is remarkable (NB: I’m ignoring George Thorn, who has played one game for Watford, but made 84 passes). Impressively Carroll’s also averaging the most tackles per game (4.5) in the division.
Adam Smith has started nine matches and been brought on as a substitute in one as he attempts to establish himself as Derby’s first-choice right-back. He has been in and out of the side, and has been an unused substitute in their last four.
Smith is now competing with another loan signing, Andre Wisdom, and new boss Steve McClaren commented on the pair after the recent game against Birmingham:
“Adam Smith has done very well for us and I have no qualms with Adam, but Andre Wisdom came in and adapted very well. He showed his quality, his strength and he was good on the ball. All the qualities you expect from a player from Liverpool.”
For me, it would make sense to recall Smith at the earliest opportunity and move him somewhere where he’ll be guaranteed starts.
Simon Dawkins recently joined Smith at Derby County, where he’s made five appearance so far on the right of a front three; four as a starter, and one off the bench. He’s managed one goal so far (at 20 seconds here).
This fans seems impressed by Dawkins so far:
Derby though dominates, Simon Dawkins, always an option, gets better with each match, he excites the crowd and promises so much.
Bongani Khumalo has turned out 18 times for Doncaster Rovers so far (16 in the Championship). I asked local journalist Paul Goodwin (of the Doncaster Free Press & Doncaster Star) how he’d done so far – Paul’s impressed:
Excellent Chris, slotted in seamlessly – very calm, good in air. Big test for him now fellow CB Rob Jones is injured though.
It’s also worth pointing out that Khumalo played for South Africa as they stunned Spain to win 1-0 in the international break.
Centre-back Grant Hall has played 23 matches for Swindon Town (17 in League One) thus far. He’s played mostly in a back four, but more recently in a three.
Alex Pritchard has played 21 times (20 starts) for Swindon, and in his 15 league appearances, he has two goals and five assists – the most assists of all of Swindon’s players.
Ryan Mason has had yet another injury-hit season, playing 12 matches in total for Swindon Town, eight of which were starts. He has scored four goals and got one assist in those matches, playing mostly as number 10, but dropping deeper more recently.
Swindon fan Nigel has been pretty pleased with the Spurs players so far – his latest update for me at the start of November reported the following:
Ryan Mason returned from injury two weeks ago and has started twice since then. Played superbly in a deeper role of CM rather than CAM.
Alex Pritchard played as perhaps a second striker (No.10 sort) and played very well. Had great work rate and moved the ball on the floor quickly. Did get booked, in the end, for diving though.
Grant Hall doesn’t look like he suits a 3-5-2 formation (been playing it last 4/5 games) makes a few mistakes but has the ability to make up for them going forwards.
EDIT: Today I’ve received a further update from Nigel:
Alex Pritchard: Played in a number of formations, playing most effectively as a no.10 just behind a target man. Has shown great technical ability & can beat a player.
Ryan Mason: Although slightly injury prone he has arguably been our best player this season when fully fit. Passing & skill on the ball is on another level to most players in L1. Has a goal or two in him.
Grant Hall: Very good on the ball for a league one CB, however lacks strength, composure & pace. He may look better next to a quicker/better defender, but he does not get that playing alongside Darren Ward. Has slightly improved as a centre back as the season has gone on, but his rather frequent mistakes, which unfortunately are usually punished, has overshadowed this.
Lawrence Vigouroux joined Hyde of the The Skrill Premier (Conference Premier) for a month at the end of October, and has so far made five appearances. Unfortunately four of those have been defeats – 2-1, 4-0, 3-2 and 2-1 – but they managed to draw one 2-2. After his debut the Manchester Evening News reported that he made “a string of excellent saves”. Fans on their forum seem very pleased with his performances so far.
Tomislav Gomelt has only played 39 minutes across two appearances so far for Royal Antwerp in the Belgian Second Division (for comparison, John Bostock – at the club permanently – has made 16 appearances). He has had a number of injuries that have disrupted his season, and he was also away representing Croatia U-19s in October. It’s worth noting that Antwerp are now managed by Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.
Yago Falque has played 492 minutes across eight starts for Rayo Vallecano in La Liga, including a start against Real Madrid at the beginning of November where he actually had the ball in the net (although it was ruled out). Despite being involved from the start a lot, he has been substituted in seven of his eight appearances.
Cristian Ceballos has managed 336 minutes across five appearances for Arouca in the Portuguese Premier League. He’s made four starts, one substitute appearances, and has also been an unused sub three times.
The loan window for Football League clubs closes at 17:00 on Thursday, 28 November. I would not be expecting a mass exodus of Spurs youngters going out on loan, because they’ve simply not had the opportunities to showcase their talents.
The Under-21 fixtures – where scouts get an opportunity to watch our young talent – have been few and far between. This means not only that there are fewer opportunities to impress, but that when they do have opportunities, they are not match sharp.
I gather that there was a behind closed doors friendly last week in which Ken McEvoy impressed – if any players are to go out on loan, perhaps he will be one.
November 24, 2013
Luke McGee (18)
Kyle Walker-Peters (16) Cameron Carter-Vickers (15) Filip Lesniak (17) Connor Ogilvie (17)
Harry Winks (17)
Josh Onomah (16) Will Miller (17)
Emmanuel Sonupe (17) Daniel Akindayini (18) Nathan Oduwa (17)
Joe Pritchard (17) for Harry Winks, 60.
Anthony Georgiou (16) for Emmanuel Sonupe, 70.
Shayon Harrison (16) for Daniel Akindayini, 70.
Sub not used:
Liam Priestley (18)
Anton Walkes (16)
Chiori Johnson Alfred Mugabo Lenader Siemann Arinse Uade
Renny Smith Jack Jebb
Tarum Dawkins Daniel Crowley Alex Iwobi
Spurs were nearly full-strength, just missing the injured Christian Maghoma from their strongest XI. Lesniak dropped into central defence to cover him, allowing Winks and Onomah to share duties as the midfield “pivot”. On the other hand, Arsenal fielded a weakened team due to their UEFA Youth League fixture against Marseille this coming Monday – they made five changes from their previous match against Chelsea, and Chuba Akpom was one of those omitted.
Arsenal started quickly and looked keen to get the ball forward quickly on the deck. It took a few minutes for the Spurs boys to get going, before they managed to play out from the back, and Akindayini held the ball up and won a free kick, which gave them a chance to get organised.
Sonupe had the first opening as he got onto Harry Winks’ pass, cut in from the right touch-line, and smashed his shot well over.
The impressive Alex Iwobi, nephew of Jay-Jay Okocha, was unhappy when he was adjudged to have fouled Harry Winks in midfield – he may have got some of the ball, but it was a very physical challenge and he came in from the side, so I could see why the referee stopped play.
Sonupe’s dangerous low cross was cleared for a corner, which Winks took. The goalkeeper rose to claim the delivery, but spilled the ball and it was worked back to Winks after a scramble. He created space and struck goal-wards, but his effort was deflected over for another corner. This time Miller met the set piece at the near post, but sent his attempt wide.
Oduwa carried the ball forward and sent Sonupe a little wide with his pass. He stood a cross up to the far post, where Miller controlled a volleyed effort nicely, but couldn’t generate any power.
Carter-Vickers committed a foul, but Ogilvie towered above his opponent in the air and cleared Jebb’s free kick.
Arsenal’s left-back, Uade, let the ball drift out of play for the second time in quick succession, before Miller lost the ball in a dangerous area, with Lesniak reading the situation well and stepping in.
Akindayini then had a fantastic opportunity to open the scoring. Winks strode forward and slid a pass to Sonupe – he beat his man and sent in a perfect cross. Akindayini arrived in the six-yard box at the right time, but his volleyed effort flew over.
Spurs then showed their counter-attacking brilliance. With Lesniak struggling to dispossess his man, Oduwa dropped back in to the left-back area help out. He won the ball, carried it forward, played two give-and-gos, and slid in Sonupe, who had his effort blocked. A superb run from the talented Oduwa nonetheless.
Crowley curled over after McGee’s throw out to Sonupe was cut out – Crowley had some neat early touches, but seemed to get frustrated with himself and his teammates, and was not shy in letting them know.
McGee’s distribution was better the next time, as he sprayed an excellent pass out to Ogilvie. He headed on first time for Oduwa, who nodded the ball down into his own stride, and showed terrific pace to beat his man on the outside. He took on the cross on his weaker left foot, but it was cut out.
Winks’ free kick drifted just over, before Lesniak and Miller sandwiched Smith after Ogilvie had committed himself on halfway. Ogilvie cleared the resulting free kick with ease.
Spurs took the lead, and it required some excellent refereeing to allow it to happen. Sonupe turned away from his man, Mugabo, who did everything he could to stop him progressing – grabbing at him and attempting to trip him. Sonupe regained his footing and carried on regardless, with the referee indicating the advantage. He continued on and fed Akindayini with a slide-rule pass. It looked from my vantage point that Akindayini toe-poked beyond the goalkeeper, but I’m told that it was a defender who actually put the ball into his own net.
At the other end, Winks made a good saving challenge on Jebb on the edge of the box, before Oduwa set off again on another excellent driving run. He slipped Miller in on the right and he shot low and hard back across the goalkeeper and found the net to make it 2-0.
Ogilvie was forced to foul Dawkins on the edge of the box as he found space. McGee went to great lengths to organise the wall appropriately, but Jebb curled the kick over the angle of post and bar.
Uade made a fantastic challenge on Walker-Peters to stop a break forward, and a minute later Arsenal pulled a goal back. Jebb – Arsenal’s best and most influential player – rose unchallenged between the Spurs centre-backs to meet a cross from the young full-back, Chiori Johnson. He nodded it back in the direction it had come, beyond McGee.
It occurred to me at this point that Winks and Onomah had switched roles – Onomah dropping back to play as the pivot, with Winks moving further forward. In truth, they probably showed the flexibility to switch roles more frequently than I’m giving them credit for.
The last real action of the half saw a bit of Sonupe trickery create a crossing opportunity, but it was put out for a corner, which Winks curled out of play.
Spurs made it 3-1 after the restart when centre-back Cameron Carter-Vickers was on-hand to tap home from about a yard out, after Onomah’s low cross had eluded the Arsenal defenders. Carter-Vickers had pushed forward to press the ball and continued his run.
Spurs should have gone further ahead when Akindayini met another excellent Sonupe cross, but Macey made a fantastic stop – in truth, Akindayini failed to make a clean connection, and should have given the goalkeeper no chance.
Arsenal replaced Dawkins with Kaylen Hinds, who was originally listed on the team sheet as starting the game.
McGee fumbled a cross slightly, but Ogilvie mopped up well, before Arsenal’s forward, Steffy Mavididi, struck a loose ball cleanly goal-wards, with McGee equal to it
Joe Pritchard came on for Harry Winks – he went to play at left back, with Ogilvie shifting across to centre-back and Lesniak moving to his more familiar holding midfield role.
Spurs grabbed a fourth with Oduwa again at the heart of the move. He weaved his way forward before scooping the ball over the back line towards Miller. Johnson missed his clearance, leaving Miller in the clear to slam a textbook volley past Macey.
Hinds nipped in to take advantage of a loose pass from Miller, but Carter-Vickers swept in to usher him off the ball effortlessly.
After Arsenal had a spell of possession around the edge of the box, Pritchard dived in with a very strong tackle to win the ball and get it to safety.
Spurs replaced Akindayini and Sonupe with Harrison and Georgiou for the final 20 minutes, but in truth Spurs took their foot off the gas a little at a time when they could have added a few more goals.
Oduwa burst through and played the ball on to Onomah. He cut in but didn’t get his shot away early enough; instead, he had to lay off to Georgiou, who took on a shot from a far more difficult angle which flew wide.
Spurs nearly had a fifth when Georgiou pounced on an error and played across for Oduwa, who drew a fabulous save from Macey.
Oduwa then beat his man with a piece of skill on halfway, got down the left, hit the byline, and played a ball inches ahead of the onrushing Harrison.
Onomah put an effort wide from an Oduwa cross, before Oduwa showed a terrific attitude by dropping in to cover at left-back as Pritchard went forward.
Lesniak played in Oduwa with a lovely pass, but his firm snapshot was saved when it looked to be heading towards the top corner. Following the resulting corner, Pritchard’s shot was blocked for another corner.
As Arsenal looked to keep the ball at the end, one of their defenders shouted “we’re playing as if we’re winning” – this seemed to instil some urgency, and Jebb had a shot which was saved by McGee. They went a step further minutes later when substitute Jamal Raage got on the end of a terrific pass from Crowley and sent a tidy finish into the bottom corner.
Arsenal have tended to ‘save’ players for their UEFA Youth League fixtures so this wasn’t their strongest XI. That said, you can only beat what you’re up against, and Spurs missed a string of chances and could have won this more handsomely. The approach play was generally excellent, with both wide men a constant threat.
Luke McGee 7 – He is an exceptionally vocal goalkeeper, giving clear instructions throughout. Did pretty much everything asked of him.
Kyle Walker-Peters 8 – The best word to describe him is “swashbuckling”; he is up and down the line constantly, competent at both ends of the pitch, and has a great work ethic.
Cameron Carter-Vickers 8 – It’s hard to believe this kid is just 15. So strong, so dominant, and so calm in possession.
Filip Lesniak 7 – Did really well filling in at centre back, and then seamlessly moved to play the holding midfield role in the second half.
Connor Ogilvie 7 – To put it simply, he’s too good for this age group now, and needs more games for the Under-21s. It’s just a shame there aren’t more matches available.
Harry Winks 8 – I really enjoyed his first half performance, where he moved both the ball and himself gracefully and with style.
Josh Onomah 7 – Another solid performance from a talented player. I would like to see him get beyond the striker a little more often, but I’m not sure if that’s something his role would allow.
Will Miller 7 – Not his greatest game overall, but he came away with two very goals from tidy finishes and that will please his manager.
Emmanuel Sonupe 8 – A constant threat, with consistently dangerous end product.
Daniel Akindayini 6 – Some decent runs to stretch the defenders, and it was nice to see him putting the defence under pressure with his work rate… but I still feel like he needs to involve himself more.
Nathan Oduwa 8 – Tricky, creative, strong, direct. I like him. I like him a lot.
Joe Pritchard – a steady showing in an unfamiliar position.
Anthony Georgiou – had a chance to show his terrific pace, although came on at a time when Spurs seemed to take their foot of the gas a little.
Shayon Harrison – as above, didn’t get an opportunity to have a major impact.
October 14, 2013
Luke McGee (18)
Kyle Walker-Peters (16) Cameron Carter-Vickers (15) Christian Maghoma (15) Connor Ogilvie (17)
Joe Pritchard (17) Josh Onomah (16) Cy Goddard (16)
Emmanuel Sonupe (17) Daniel Akindayini (17) Nathan Oduwa (17)
Anton Walkes (16) for Joe Pritchard, 61.
Anthony Georgiou (16) for Emmanuel Sonupe, 61.
Shayon Harrison (16) for Cy Goddard, 71.
Sub not used:
Alfie Whiteman (15)
With Will Miller and Filip Lesniak missing due to international call-ups (note: McEneff is with Ireland too, but hasn’t featured for the U18s so far this season), and Harry Winks also absent (presumably through injury), Spurs lined up with a slightly unfamiliar feel to their midfield. Josh Onomah, normally a more attacking player, played large parts of the game as the holding player, although was pushed on as we chased the game in the second half.
After one early foray each, the deadlock was broken after just a couple of minutes – Luke McGee rushed out to clear, his kick hit Jordan Brown (who moved to West Ham from Arsenal in the summer) and landed kindly for captain Kieran Bywater to calmly stroke the ball into the unguarded net for 1-0.
Left-back Lewis Page then got to the byline and pulled a cross back which just evaded Josh Cullen as the visitors looked to extend their lead.
Spurs soon settled into the game, though, and started to threaten. Oduwa was put through in the left channel but had his shot from a tricky angle blocked, and then Carter-Vickers put a header over on the stretch after Spurs developed a short corner and Pritchard delivered a cross.
Walker-Peters linked well with Sonupe, playing a one-two which saw the right-back get into a position to cross, but his centre was just beyond Oduwa.
Ogilvie then charged forward on the left, holding off the challenges of three West Ham players, but his cross was cleared easily at the far post.
Pritchard picked out Sonupe, who cut in and was fouled. Cy Goddard stepped up, and ambitiously attempted to curl the ball into the near corner (with little to aim at) but, despite getting plenty of bend on the ball, it found the side netting.
Oduwa drove forward, dropped his shoulder to get to the byline and trusted his left foot, but his cross was over hit and went high and wide.
Spurs levelled after 13 minutes when they pieced together a lovely move involving Pritchard and Goddard, who were linking well. Pritchard showed an excellent first touch, fed Goddard who intelligently played in Akindayini. The striker’s shot bounced up off the goalkeeper, Sam Baxter, and was headed home by Pritchard following up.
The home side then turned up the pressure, putting several good moves together in short succession. Akindayini turned well and got a low shot away which was blocked by Baxter. Then Onomah fed Oduwa whose cross was flicked on by Goddard to Sonupe, who turned but couldn’t find room to get a firm shot away and had his effort blocked.
Maghoma played a good pass to Ogilvie, who burst forward again, but delayed his pass slightly too long and the opportunity was lost.
Pritchard had a decent chance when Goddard found him in space, but he scooped a shot over. Next, Walker-Peters sent Pritchard away with a good pass down the right-hand side on the break, he picked out Sonupe, but his effort was blocked as West Ham got bodies back.
Onomah then started another move, playing wide to Walker-Peters – an ever-willing runner. He linked well again with Sonupe whose low shot was blocked. It fell to Goddard, but defenders converged and smothered the ball. Akindayini then had a rather tame effort when well positioned.
Carter-Vickers’ mopped up well after his own slightly loose touch on the right looked like it might cause problems.
Onomah’s poor pass to Goddard meant that Goddard had to foul his man to stop a counter, and then Maghoma tried to take an extra touch on the edge of the box which allowed a shot which Onomah did well to block.
Another short corner routine between Goddard and Pritchard led to the ball being worked out to Akindayini, whose effort looped up dangerously but was hammered away. Then, Walker-Peters and Sonupe did well again to get Walker-Peters free, he hit the byline and had yet another cross cleared at the near post.
Another poor Onomah pass this time found touch, and then after a quiet period, Jordan Brown dropped off the centre-backs to show for the ball, turned well, got his shot away and the ball whistled just wide wide of McGee’s far post.
Oduwa and Sonupe swapped sides temporarily, and Sonupe instantly made a foul challenge on the left after Maghoma had lost the ball trying to play out. The resultant free kick was taken short but defended well by Spurs, who pressed the ball quickly and stopped a cross coming in.
Pritchard was the next to lose the ball trying to play out from the edge of his own box, but Maghoma stepped in to spare his blushes.
Sonupe’s driving run down the left led to him having to attempt a left-foot cross which lacked power and was intercepted and put out for a corner. Goddard’s corner was easily cleared at the neat post, but fell to Pritchard whose shot was saved.
Another good Sonupe run led to him finding Akindayini, who teed up Oduwa. His cross caused problems and Sonupe was very close to getting on the end of it.
West Ham took the lead again on the stroke of half time when Brown found Cullen, who set up Bywater to calmly slot his finish home for his second of the game. 1-2.
West Ham started the second half on the front foot, and Carter-Vickers did well to head over his own bar when Parfitt-Williams’ cross-shot looked like it was goal-bound, and Page’s free kick was then headed away by Ogilvie.
McGee made a fantastic reflex save from Makasi after he had turned a cross goal wards from close range – the goalkeeper getting a strong hand to the ball when a goal looked inevitable.
Goddard showed some neat skill in midfield, passed wide to Sonupe who whipped in a dangerous cross which was awkwardly hacked away, nearly resulting in an own goal.
Akindayini missed a terrific chance to make it 2-2 when he was found by an excellent Onomah pass after good work from Ogilvie and Oduwa. Onomah was coming into the game at this point and looked to be the key man.
As Spurs started to take a few risks, Ben Marlow robbed Goddard but Spurs regained shape quickly to snuff out the danger.
Pritchard made a few poor choices of pass on the counter – first trying to play a ball wide when there seemed to be room to slip Akindayini in through the middle, and then giving one away easily, followed by a third straight into touch.
Sonupe drew a foul on the right, but Oduwa overhit the free kick badly and it went well beyond his teammates. Onomah showed great control in midfield but his pass to Akindayini was slightly overhit, before McGee made a good save after the referee had waved play on when Cullen had clearly fouled Onomah when trying to nick the ball. Cullen charged forward unchallenged, but McGee repelled him.
Carter-Vickers threw himself at the ball to bravely block after West Ham worked a shooting opportunity from a corner, before Spurs made two changes. Anthony Georgiou replaced Sonupe, with Oduwa moving to the right, and Anton Walkes replaced Pritchard in midfield – he played more of a holding role, allowing Onomah to push on.
Onomah smashed a shot well over from distance – it seemed to be out of frustration as Spurs struggled to break down a stubborn defence.
Goddard was replaced by Shayon Harrison, who was immediately involved when he played in Onomah in a wide area. His threatening ball across the box somehow stayed out and was hacked clear for a corner. Walkes’ corner was just too deep for Akindayini, who had got up well.
Walker-Peters burst through a couple of challenges and was fouled right on the edge of the box, but Harrison’s free kick went straight into the wall.
McDermott was encouraging his players from the sidelines, urging them to stretch West Ham – “wider, wider” and to pass the ball more sharply – “quicker, quicker, quicker, now use it”.
Spurs profited soon after when Oduwa got on the end of a Walker-Peters pass and his run was halted by Page, who really didn’t need to make a challenge with Oduwa running out of pitch. Oduwa grabbed the ball and confidently put it into the bottom left corner with the goalkeeper barely moving.
It seemed that if one team was going to win, it was going to be Spurs – they’d been camped in the West Ham half for long periods of the game, without finding the vital finish.
Two more presentable chances went begging – this time Onomah had both. The first was the best, as he seemed to suddenly find some room in the box, only to fire his shot into a defender’s legs. As the ball rebounded back to him, he couldn’t adjust his body quickly enough, and lashed his shot over.
Spurs took a few risks in chasing the win, and had a warning when a counter needed Maghoma to get a block in, and Ogilvie to cover behind, clearing the loose ball.
A quick throw to Oduwa allowed him to toe-poke it past his man, but his pass to Akindayini wasn’t good enough and the move broke down. Then, a fine long-ball into the channel from Ogilvie saw Akindayini bring the ball down well and put a fantastic cross in – Harrison had done well to burst into the area, but the cross was inches ahead of him.
Then came the sucker punch. Jordan Brown had put in a real shift in the second half – often playing as the only man in the Spurs half, and he profited from a misplaced pass from Harrison and then slight lapse from Carter-Vickers. Marlow got onto Harrison’s loose pass, and found Brown, who was afforded too much room by Carter-Vickers. He took on a difficult shot, planting it firmly into the corner, with McGee getting a hand to it but unable to keep it out. It was hard to argue that Brown didn’t deserve something for his efforts.
As Spurs desperately pushed for an equaliser, Marcio Martins (who had just come on for Brown) had a great chance at the near post but put his effort wide.
The final attack saw Akindayini put through, but his cut back to Georgiou wasn’t up to scratch, and that was it – an unfortunate end for Spurs, who dominated for long periods and created lots of chances.
Spurs were missing key players and whilst Pritchard and, in particular, Goddard, did well in midfield, both were clearly flagging in the second half, and the quality of the replacements wasn’t quite good enough as we tried to unlock a stubborn defence.
Luke McGee 8 – made a couple of excellent saves, generally used the ball well (passing and throwing out) and was as vocal as ever.
Kyle Walker-Peters 8 – another very competent performance. Great attacking outlet and links brilliantly with Sonupe.
Cameron Carter-Vickers 7 – very impressive on the whole. He’s exceptionally strong, quick, but just let himself down ever so slightly by letting Brown get too much room for the winner.
Christian Maghoma 7 – got himself into bother a couple of times when trying to play out in tight areas, but was mostly very solid and made some decent interventions.
Connor Ogilvie 7 – loves a marauding run forward, but needs to release the ball a little earlier. Competent at left-back and centre-back, although I prefer him in the middle. For me, he looks the most ready to step up to the U21s.
Joe Pritchard 6 – started the game well and got an early goal when he did really well to follow up an Akindayini shot. Faded in the second half and made some poor pass selections – that was totally understandable though as he’d not featured much yet this season.
Josh Onomah 6 – started off in a deeper role with Lesniak missing, and I hoped that this would be good for him as it would encourage ball retention. Ironically he played some poor passes when under no pressure, whereas he excelled when he was pushed on in the second half. Clearly has a lot of talent, but was hit and miss on this occasions.
Cy Goddard 6 – very small and as a result he did get pushed around a lot – especially by Marlow, who seemed intent on clattering into him at every opportunity. I was impressed, though, and his teammates showed confidence in him by constantly giving him the ball in tight areas. One to watch.
Emmanuel Sonupe 8 – a real danger man throughout, and I felt that we should have kept him on (perhaps he was tired/injured). Direct and skilful with great pace.
Daniel Akindayini 7 – probably the best performance I’ve seen from him – showed some neat touches and a bit more of a willingness to involve himself in general play. Still feel that he needs to develop a “nasty” side and be more ruthless when presented with a chance.
Nathan Oduwa 7 – such a tricky customer! Reminds me of Kanu in style – he sometimes doesn’t seem fully in control of his feet, but manages to retain possession in the tightest of spaces. Got us back into the game with a good run and cool penalty, and is a genuinely handful at this level. Personally I’d like to see him play centrally more often than not. Interesting to note that he gets a *lot* of instruction from McDermott, so perhaps doesn’t quite have the natural awareness that some others possess.
Anton Walkes – came on in the middle of midfield and initially looked a little awkward and dallied a few times. Got better the longer he was on the pitch, though.
Anthony Georgiou – didn’t really have a chance to have an impact as West Ham were defending so deep by the time he came on, meaning there was very little space in behind.
Shayon Harrison – made a few progressive passes, but was the unfortunate one who gave the ball away for West Ham’s winner.
September 15, 2013
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)
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.