November 21, 2014
Grant Ward doesn’t turn 20 until December. There aren’t many 19-year old English footballers who can say they’ve experienced top-flight football in another country.
It was a very brave decision of Ward to move halfway across the world to play for Chicago Fire in the MLS. The move has paid off, though, and after 20 appearances for ‘The Fire’ (scoring once), Ward has come back to Tottenham with the match day experience that young players need.
Ward moved in March, and so spent around eight months in the States. He told the American press that the experience developed him and allowed him to “become more independent.” He knows that Chicago Fire want to take him back for next season, and is open to the proposal.
Grant agreed to answer a few of my questions about the move – thanks to him for taking the time.
How did the move to Chicago Fire come about?
The manger Frank Yallop was in town for a few weeks, he watched a few reserves games, I played well and he asked if I would like to have a season in the MLS.
Had you seen much MLS football before the move? Did you know what you were letting yourself in for?
I had seen an odd goal or two from Henry but, to be honest, no because games are not televised much over here. After I knew it was an option to go there I did manage to watch a few games.
Did you notice any major differences in either the coaching or playing style out there?
My coaches out there did similar sessions to what I do at Tottenham but the tempo in the MLS is a lot slower overall and I feel a lot of teams like to sit behind the ball.
What was the thing you enjoyed most about your loan experience?
I enjoyed playing against some of the players I watched growing up as a kid like, Henry, Keane, etc. I also enjoyed living in Chicago, it’s a very nice city.
And what did you enjoy least?
I enjoyed the whole experience apart from the rules that America has that no one tells you, like you cannot park near a fire-hydrant, this resulted in a few parking tickets!
Have you seen much of DeAndre Yedlin? [I was hoping that Grant may have caught him in person.]
I watched him in the World Cup, he played well when he came on and seemed to have a lot of pace.
Have you been given any feedback about the move from Spurs? Did they go to watch you out there?
Yes I received a lot of feedback and they came out to watch my last game against Houston.
Which players at Spurs do you look up to in training? Who stands out?
Growing up I always looked up to Lennon but also Eriksen and Dembele are very good trainers.
You have played at full-back and on the wing. Which position do you see yourself playing long-term?
I could see my self playing in either position but I enjoy playing on the wing or when I have the licence to go forward at full-back.
What are your aspirations for the next two or three years?
To maybe go on loan a few more times to gain some more experience to help me break into the first team.
Grant is likely to play for our Under-21s over the coming weeks, and it’ll be fascinating to see how he has progressed as a player. I wish him all the best for the future.
October 25, 2014
Tom Glover (16)
Chris Paul (17) Anton Walkes (17) Christian Maghoma (16) Joe Muscatt (16)
Joe Pritchard (18) (c) Luke Amos (17)
Kyle Walker-Peters (17) Cy Goddard (17) Anthony Georgiou (17)
Shayon Harrison (17)
Zenon Stylianides (16) for Chris Paul, 54.
Tashan Oakley-Boothe (15?) for Anthony Georgiou, 78.
Aramide Oteh (15?) for Joe Pritchard, 78.
Alfie Whiteman (16)
Spurs were missing Ismail Azzaoui (Belgium international duty), Ryan Loft (who was playing in the ongoing U17 tournament which we won*), Cameron Carter-Vickers who I suspect will be playing for the U21s on Monday, as well as recent substitute, Marcus Edwards, as the 15-year old was away playing for the England U17s (they won 4-1 against Cyprus and he bagged a goal and an assist).
The starting eleven had a familiar feel, though, even if the substitutes bench housed some new names. Aramide (spelt “Aremide” on the team sheet so apologies if I’ve got this wrong!) Oteh and Tashan “Tash” Oakley-Boothe (who is supposedly one of the brightest prospects in our Academy) played in an U14 tournament last January so this was a big step up for both and an encouraging sign.
The formation was sometimes 4-1-4-1 (with Amos the deepest midfielder), sometimes 4-2-3-1 (with Goddard as the 10), and sometimes 4-3-3. It’s also worth nothing that in the dugout for Spurs – amongst others – was part-time coach, Ledley King.
There was a minute’s silence prior to kick off for Club Historian, Andy Porter, a regular attender of youth matches, who sadly passed away in the week aged just 54. For more information about Andy and his terrific work for the club, please see the obituary on the official site.
It was a fast, open start with Spurs exhibiting pace in key areas. Anthony Georgiou expressed his intentions early with a powerful run down the left. He did well to get a cross in but when it was headed out to Pritchard, he volleyed well over the bar.
A Reading free-kick to the left of the penalty box was taken short which gave Pritchard an opportunity to charge it down in typically fearless style, and the follow-up was blocked by Walkes.
Spurs took the lead on 10 minutes. Walker-Peters won a corner and Georgiou’s kick looked harmless until Cy Goddard got a foot to a misdirected Walkes volley and looped the ball over the goalkeeper, landing it perfectly in the far corner.
Soon after, Tom Glover was grateful to Luke Amos, who cleared off the line after the goalkeeper’s fumble in the box as the game became increasingly open.
Joe Muscatt beat his man with a clever piece of skill and found Pritchard with an intelligent cut-back. When Pritchard’s low shot was blocked, Muscatt did well to track back and immediately regain possession.
Georgiou teed up Goddard after another positive burst but his weak shot drifted wide.
Harrison had his first glimpse of goal when he was found by Georgiou and hit a firm shot on the turn – it was easily blocked on this occasion but he doubled the lead minutes later.
Chris Paul made a positive charge from right-back and fired in a low cross, Harrison darted across his man and finished deftly over the goalkeeper at the near post for 2-0.
Reading’s number 7, Conor Davis, was proving a tricky customer, and he beat two men on the left but, as he cut inside, he curled his shot straight at Glover.
Georgiou stood a ball up into the box but Goddard couldn’t quite meet the ball cleanly as he arrived on the penalty spot, and he sliced it wide.
Harrison made a clever dart in behind and was found by a fabulous Pritchard long ball, but his attempted lob was partially blocked and then collected by the goalkeeper.
Conor Davis beat Paul again and, when he was hauled down, the referee decided to call Paul over for a final warning.
Paul nearly had more luck at the other end when he was picked out by Harrison, but he struck his first-time strike into the ground and off a defender and it ran to safety for Reading.
Walkes won the ball well and found Georgiou, who beat his man and saw his cross blocked, only for the referee to give a goal kick – Georgiou let the referee know that he was not best pleased with the decision.
Goddard nearly made it three just before half-time when the ball broke to him in the box and his left-footed attempt went just wide.
Early in the second half Reading’s left-back, Jake Sheppard, got the better of Chris Paul and put in a threatening cross which fortunately (for us) fell just ahead of the forward.
Spurs had a clear opening five minutes into the half when the ball broke kindly for Kyle Walker-Peters to run at two retreating defenders. He carried the ball most of the length of the pitch but, with Georgiou screaming for the ball at the far post, he couldn’t avoid the two men between him and his teammate, and his attempted pass was easily cut out.
Reading went straight down the other end and Maghoma was called upon to do some sterling defensive work – he went to ground in the box, winning the ball cleanly and able to bring it clear, winning a free kick in the process.
It should have been 3-0 and job done for Spurs When Walker-Peters delivered a fine cross from the right and Pritchard arrived right on cue, unmarked, but managed to plant his header well over the bar.
Chris Paul eventually went into the book for a late challenge and was withdrawn three minutes later, Zenon Stylianides coming on with Walker-Peters dropping to right-back and Pritchard moving to the right side of the attack.
Walkes lost his man in the box to offer a Reading sub, Harry Cardwell, a good chance, but he headed straight at a relieved Glover.
Pritchard nearly forced a mistake from the Reading keeper when he pressed deep into the penalty area, but Lewis Ward just enough to avoid embarrassment.
There was a bit of upset when the linesman flagged offside directly from a goal kick (Kieran McKenna told the referee he was “embarrassing himself”) – in fairness, the referee had a chat with his linesman and ordered a re-take of the kick with minimal fuss.
Spurs brought on their two young debutants, with Oteh going wide right and Oakley-Boothe left, Pritchard and Georgiou the two players withdrawn. Oteh’s first action was to drive forward and win a free-kick – an encouraging start.
Spurs’ centre-back pairing had been unflappable until Maghoma under-hit a square pass to Walkes, and Walkes pulled at the forward’s shoulder as he went to shoot. He got the shot away (which Glover saved) but it didn’t stop the referee awarding a penalty and showing Walkes a yellow card (which might have been red).
Glover got two firm hands to Novakovich’s penalty and kept it out impressively, but the striker did get a goal minutes later, when he was played in on a sharp counter and impressively found the far corner with a precise low finish.
Tom Glover 7 – cracking penalty save and, although he fumbled a few balls, I like his pro-active approach to goalkeeping.
Chris Paul 4 – not his day today, but I’m sure there are many better performances to come.
Anton Walkes 6 – the benefit of a midfielder playing at the back is the added ability to bring the ball out. Walkes did this well throughout and, aside from missing a few headers, and the penalty incident, he had a decent game.
Christian Maghoma 8 – that one poorly-weighted pass aside, he was excellent.
Joe Muscatt 7 – considering he’s a right-footed left-back who only started playing the role recently, he is coming along nicely. Showed a willingness to use his left foot and that keeps defenders guessing.
Joe Pritchard 6 – as ever, a whole-hearted display which lacked subtlety.
Luke Amos 7 – right place, right time. Enough said.
Kyle Walker-Peters 6 – not his best performance, but his obvious threat attracts defenders, leaving space for others.
Cy Goddard 7 – one of the best performances I’ve seen from him. Intelligent use of the ball, plenty of craft, and grabbed a goal too.
Anthony Georgiou 7 – direct, quick, and a constant thorn in the side for Reading.
Shayon Harrison 6 – took his goal beautifully but he left me wanting more.
Zenon Stylianides – a very assured player in midfield who seems to be good at all the basics, which bodes well.
Tashan Oakley-Boothe – he barely saw the ball so it’s impossible to judge him on this, but he’s a player who is very highly rated and it was very interesting to see him make the bench today.
Aramide Oteh – as above; the few times he saw the ball he made it count with useful and confident runs forward.
*As mentioned above, in the Premier League’s U17 International Tournament played over the last two days, we drew 2-2 with Crystal Palace and beat Juventus 2-1 to finish top of our group. In the other group, Leicester beat Arsenal 3-0 and drew 1-1 with Real Madrid. Today we beat Leicester 3-0 in the final.
Edit: After some detective work, I think the players are: ???, Jaden Brown, Ryan Loft, David Ajiboye, Charlie Owens, Kaziah Sterling, Japhet Tanganga, Armani Daly, Keanen Bennetts, Tom McDermott, Charlie Hayford, ??, ??, Nick Tsaroulla.
George Marsh and Dylan Duncan are two of the players I’m unsure of.
October 16, 2014
Grant Ward has now been on loan at MLS side Chicago Fire since May, and the 19-year old has played 639 minutes – although recently most of his time on the pitch has been as a late substitute. He has mostly played on the right of midfield, despite being used mainly as a right-back for our Under-18 team. Comments on their fan forums range from “has shown some promise” to “good value, flashes in preseason but nothing special”.
Lewis Holtby’s move to Hamburger SV has seen him – so far – make five starts, play 445 minutes and get one assist. He is playing in a poor side who are second from bottom in the Bundesliga and has operated as an attacking midfielder. It looks likely that this move will be made permanent at the end of the season if not before.
Tom Carroll has not yet broken into Swansea City’s first team, playing just six minutes of Premier League football. However, he’s started both League Cup matches and impressed their fans.
Ryan Fredericks has started three Championship matches as well as playing 120 minutes against Liverpool in the League Cup since joining Middlesbrough. Teammate George Friend was very complimentary of Fredericks in an interview with the Northern Echo recently, saying:
“I wouldn’t swap our squad for anyone else’s in the league. Both in terms of quality and depth. We’ve had injuries and suspensions, but people have come in and been every bit as good.
A perfect example is Ryan Fredericks coming in – the lads and fans have loved him for obvious reasons. He’s stepped in for Damia [Abella], who is a massive loss, but Ryan has done brilliantly since he’s come in. We’ve got options everywhere.”
On searching some Middlesbrough forums I’ve found plenty of positives on Fredericks, such as “Fredericks has looked the real deal” and “Fredericks and Kike in particular [of the new signings] have been great.”
Fredericks has been joined this week by Milos Veljkovic, who has joined on a three-month loan deal. Veljkovic is equally comfortable at centre-back and defensive midfield. Boro fan @Drakey31 says that as Leadbitter is undroppable, Veljkovic will have to get past Clayton and Whitehead to get into the team in midfield. He suggests that the chances of Milos breaking through at centre-back are slim, with Omerou, Ayala, Woodgate, Gibson, Williams and Friend to get past.
Grant Hall started the first eight matches of the season for Birmingham City, but since getting injured (he went off at half-time against Leeds with a groin strain), he has not been able to get back into the side. The majority of Birmingham fans on their forums seem relatively impressed and want him brought back into their team at the expense of Paul Robinson.
Alex Pritchard has started ten out of Brentford’s eleven Championship matches since joining on the summer on a season-long loan – he was rested in the other, but came on as a substitute. Such is his importance to the team, he was also rested in their League Cup matches. He so far has two goals and an assist to his name in 845 minutes but has been accused by some of ‘going missing’ at times.
Kenny McEvoy has made three starts and three substitute appearances for Peterborough in all competitions, scoring once. The opinions on theposhforum.co.uk are not exactly glowing, with one poster writing that he ‘really needs to go back to Tottenham, he may look like Bale but is not fit to tie his boots’ – the same poster gave him 3/10 for his performance against Yeovil. The Peterborough Chairman, however, is expecting big things:
— Darragh MacAnthony (@DMAC102) October 11, 2014
Shaq Coulthirst has started twelve times and come off the bench twice in all competitions for Southend United, who are in League Two. Playing mostly on the left, but sometimes up front, he has managed two goals in 961 minutes of football so far.
Jordan Archer initially struggled to break into League Two side Northampton Town’s first team, but has now made eight consecutive starts. Having read a Northampton Town forum, it seems that Archer is slowly winning fans over after a less than impressive start there. Although that could be Cobblers.
Tomislav Gomelt has made the bench five times for Serie B side Bari, but has yet to make an appearance. Incidentally, Soli Coulibaly who joined Bari permanently in the summer has been sent on loan to third tier side Pistoiese on loan.
September 28, 2014
Tom Glover (16)
Anton Walkes (17) Christian Maghoma (16) Cameron Carter-Vickers (16) Kyle Walker-Peters (17)
Luke Amos (17)
Joe Pritchard (18) (c) Cy Goddard (17)
Lloyd Ross (17)
Shayon Harrison (17) Anthony Georgiou (17)
Zenon Stylianides (16) for Lloyd Ross, 52.
Ismail Azzaoui (16) for Cy Goddard, 70.
Joe Muscatt (16) for Anton Walkes, 81.
Harry Voss (17)
It was a warm, sunny morning for the visit of London rivals Chelsea. Amongst the spectators was Mauricio Pochettino, who took his place on the bench, whilst Academy Manager & Head of Coaching, John McDermott, stood away from the dugout, leaving Kieran McKenna in charge. With Ryan Loft injured, there was no natural line-leader in the Spurs XI, meaning that they lined up in a 4-1-2-1-2. Whilst Harrison and Georgiou started wide, they both looked to cut in. Lloyd Ross – the most central forward player – played almost as a false 9, mostly dropping into midfield.
Pritchard and Carter-Vickers both stepped up to the Under-21s for last Monday’s defeat at Sunderland, and I’m sure some of those involved today will feature against Manchester United at the Lamex in Stevenage on Monday evening.
Spurs started on the front foot, with Pritchard having an early opportunity. Found by an Anton Walkes pass, he shot across the goalkeeper drawing a save. Anthony Georgiou was first to the rebound but saw his effort blocked.
It was noticeable from the start just how high Chelsea were playing – they squeezed the pitch throughout, trying to cramp Spurs’ and disrupt their passing game with intense pressing.
With five minutes on the clock, Walker-Peters helped the ball on to Georgiou, but his first-time volley went into the side netting.
Walkes had an opportunity to get in down the right when he played a pass into Harrison and got it back in space, but his touch let him down as he looked to break through.
The referee signalled his intention to try to play the advantage as much as possible, and was very vocal in saying so – on this particular occasion he pulled it back when the advantage clearly wasn’t gained after all.
Amos made a big challenge ten minutes in as Chelsea looked to counter, taking plenty of ball and plenty of man as he stood firm in deep midfield.
Harrison played in Pritchard and he lifted it over the challenge of one man, but the ball was nicked off him as he tried to cut back onto his right foot.
A terrific Luke Amos cross-field found Walkes, who played in Harrison. He showed quick feet on the edge of the box to create space, but tried to take on one man too many and lost out.
Chelsea had a rare attack on 15 minutes, and Carter-Vickers hacked a clearance over the bar for a corner as 16-year old Swiss midfielder Miro Muheim crossed dangerously. From the corner, Fikayo Tomori’s effort was blocked.
Coach Keiran McKenna was encouraging Lloyd Ross to drop deep to collect the ball from Amos and the two centre backs, saying “Lloydy, go and play, go and play”. He did, and his involvement led to a nice spell of possession from Spurs where they kept the ball moving quickly around the edge of the box. The ball was moved out to Walker-Peters, who seemed to back himself into a corner, but did well to win a corner. The corner was cleared, but Chelsea’s goalkeeper, Brad Collins was not happy, telling his players to “liven up”.
Ross got on the ball again and found Pritchard. He played it out wide to the left-footed Harrison on the right. The forward moved in off the flank, and hit a curling effort with his stronger foot, but it easily cleared the crossbar.
Shayon Harrison was giving the number 4 – listed as Clarke-Saltern, but actually Suljic – a tough time, and he gave him the slip on the right. In trying to get the ball onto his favoured left foot, he left it behind and the chance was gone.
Spurs took the lead when Harrison beat his man and found Georgiou. The winger’s effort came back off the post but Amos had gone forward and was the first to react to turn the ball in.
Chelsea immediately created an opening from the kick-off, Muheim running through only to be stopped by Walkes. Then, with Walkes misjudging a cross and getting caught under it, Dasilva got a shot away which Glover had to be alert to save.
Chelsea had a string of corners – one of which Amos bravely headed away under pressure and one which Carter-Vickers cleared – the centre back then reacted well to block the follow-up shot.
Wakefield beat Walkes on Chelsea’s left, and stabbed a cross in with his right foot which Carter-Vickers headed away.
At the other end, Shayon Harrison got in and a last ditch block from Tomori saved a goal. The resulting corner saw the ball played out to Lloyd Ross, who managed to win a free kick with a trick on the edge of the box. Pritchard’s set piece found Harrison, but he hit the outside of the post in helping it towards goal.
Tammy Abraham – the tall Chelsea striker – came alive on 38 minutes, looping his header onto the bar after a corner was helped onto him.
At the other end, Walker-Peters made something of a poor Goddard pass and found Georgiou, who had a good low effort saved.
Muheim then hit the post from range after Pritchard’s pass was intercepted, and Sammut put the follow-up wide.
The second half started with Chelsea on the front foot, as they looked to impose their pressing game on Spurs. They won an early penalty when Amos had his pocket picked by Kyle Scott and then fouled the number 10 as he looked to get a shot away. Tom Glover was down quickly to make a solid save from Abraham’s spot kick, and received congratulations from his teammates.
It was 1-1 within just a few minutes, though – Dasilva made a strong burst down the left and delivered a superb cross, which Abraham rose to meet.
Spurs replaced Lloyd Ross with Stylianides on 52 minutes to try to contain Chelsea, who had the bit between their teeth. Stylianides played Pritchard’s midfield role, with Pritchard moving further forward to replace Ross. It worked for a few minutes as Spurs came back into the game.
First, Walkes got around the back of Chelsea’s defence but only managed to deliver a weak cross. Then Pritchard had a great opportunity to make it 2-1 when he exchanged passed with Georgiou, but put his effort wide.
Georgiou won a free kick, which Pritchard took. His ball to the back post was headed wide by Walkes.
Walker-Peters won the ball, burst down the left and found Georgiou. He got it back from Georgiou and then passed to Harrison. Harrison attempted a back-heeled return, but got it wrong and Chelsea cleared.
Spurs retook the lead when Carter-Vickers headed in a Harrison free-kick – the keeper could perhaps have been stronger in trying to keep out the lunging header.
Abraham got the better of Carter-Vickers and Walker-Peters on the left when they looked to have him boxed in and made a strong burst towards goal, forcing a corner which, fortunately, came to nothing.
There was a great chance for Spurs to make it 3-1 when a lovely pass from Harrison found Georgiou – he took on the shot on his weaker right side which the keeper saved, and Stylianides’ effort from the rebound was blocked by a retreating defender. Chelsea’s goalkeeper, Collins, was injured during the move and later had to be replaced.
Pritchard made a charge forward and even when he overran the ball, he managed to bundle it through to Georgiou, who had another shot saved.
Chelsea got level again when Muheim received the ball from Dasilva, created himself a yard of space, and found the far corner with a clever low effort.
Four minutes later Chelsea took the lead for the first time. Full back Grant picked out a cross for Abraham, who hung in the air to power his header beyond Glover, who had little chance of keeping it out.
Walker-Peters beat two men but his cross was just out of the reach of two teammates.
Ismail Azzaoui, who had replaced Goddard, beat Dasilva and did well to force a cross, but the new goalkeeper pounced on the low ball.
Joe Muscatt replaced Anton Walkes, with Kyle Walker-Peters heading back to the right as Muscatt is a natural left back.
Before Muscatt could have any impact on the game, though, Abraham completed his hat-trick to make it 4-2. Chelsea nicked the ball in midfield, Abraham easily held off the tiring Pritchard and, whilst Glover saved well at the first attempt, the rebound fell kindly for the striker to finish at the second.
There was a big appeal for handball when Pritchard’s shot on the turn hit an arm, but the referee was very definite in turning it down.
Muscatt’s cross after a short corner was met by Carter-Vickers but was easily saved, and then Luke Amos picked out Walker-Peters, who crossed to Georgiou but he couldn’t conjure anything this time.
Chelsea were deserving winners, but it was a game of ‘what ifs’ from a Spurs perspective. What if Georgiou or Pritchard had taken a chance at 3-1? What if we’d started with Muscatt (and Walker-Peters on the right)? And what if Stylianides had come on for Goddard rather than Ross?
Tammy Abraham, 17 next week, was clearly the game’s star man and, according to Chelsea youth blogger @chelseayouth, he now has 8 goals in 5 games this season, second only to Arsenal’s Stephy Mavididi (who has 10) in the Barclays U18 Premier League. It’s easy to see why.
At half-time I had a word with Chelsea’s camera man who told me that Jay Dasilva had recently trained with their first team, where they joked that he was half John Terry’s age as well as being half his size!
Over on the other pitch, the Under-16s lost 2-0 to their Chelsea counterparts, but apparently dominated the match.
Tom Glover 8 – my first look at the young Aussie – he’s a big guy! Despite conceding 4, he had a good game in which he saved a penalty, made a couple of others good stops, and was very vocal throughout (“Cy, wake up”, “Anton, higher” being just two examples!).
Anton Walkes 5 – not a great fit at right back and, actually, we probably could have done with his height and strength in midfield, particularly in the second half when Chelsea took hold.
Christian Maghoma 6 – looked good in the first half, but struggled to contain Abraham in the second.
Cameron Carter-Vickers 6 – much like his defensive partner, he coped well in the first 45, but struggled a little in the second. He scored with a stooping header and had another headed effort saved.
Kyle Walker-Peters 6 – not his usual bubbly self, and I think had he been switched to the right sooner, we might have won the match.
Luke Amos 7 – I’d be rating him higher were it not for the penalty incident – he used the ball intelligently and positioned himself well to stop attacks.
Joe Pritchard 5 – his energy in midfield is refreshing, but he needs to show more of an awareness of his teammates and know when to release the ball.
Cy Goddard 5 – he drifted in and out of the game and struggled to impose himself.
Shayon Harrison 6 – looked dangerous, but missed the presence of Loft to create space.
Lloyd Ross 6 – much like Goddard, he drifted in and out. When he was in, though, he was relatively effective, and Spurs looked less fluid without him on the pitch.
Anthony Georgiou 6 – had several useful efforts on goal, but he does tend to run down a few blind alleys. A good player who is sometimes let down by his decision-making.
Zenon Stylianides – had some good moments, but didn’t really suit the role he came on to play, – perhaps would have benefited from being the deepest lying player.
Ismail Azzaoui – came on at a time when we were struggling to control Chelse and therefore struggled to have an impact. He played on the right, with Harrison moving infield to make it a three.
Joe Muscatt – added some balance on the left and had an impact in the short time he was on the pitch.
August 17, 2014
Harry Voss (17)
Lloyd Ross (17) Christian Maghoma (16) Zenon Stylianides (16) Kyle Walker-Peters (17)
Luke Amos (17)
Shayon Harrison (17) Joe Pritchard (17) (c) Cy Goddard (17) Anthony Georgiou (17)
Ryan Loft (16)
Charlie Hayford (16) for Joe Pritchard, 66.
Armani Daly (16) for Anthony Georgiou, 66.
Chris Paul (16) for Luke Amos, 77.
Tom McDermott (16)
It was a bright afternoon for the opening Under-18 match of the season. There were a number of first years in the squad giving me my first look at some of them.
With no natural left-back in the match-day squad, it was left to Kyle Walker-Peters to move across from his usual right-back position, with central midfielder Lloyd Ross filling in on the right. Zenon Stylianides, who usually plays in midfield himself, played at centre-back, with Cameron Carter-Vickers absent (in the United States, having been called up to represent their Under-18s).
Spurs lined up in a 4-1-4-1 which became a 4-3-3 in possession, as the wingers pushed up. Luke Amos anchored the midfield and was generally deeper than both Joe Pritchard and Cy Goddard.
Straight from the kick off Harry Voss was a vocal presence, constantly talking to the unfamiliar back four ahead of him.
The first opening of the game fell to Ryan Loft, who tried to turn on the edge of the area, but was crowded out. Norwich had their first opportunity soon after – a defensive mix-up led to Bernard Ashley-Seal latching onto a loose Spurs pass and running through between our centre-backs. With Voss unsure whether to come out or retreat to his line, he was relieved when the striker weakly shot straight at him.
It was noticeable that Anthony Georgiou and Shayon Harrison were asked to press high up the pitch, with Pritchard in particular joining in from midfield. Whether this was a ‘Pochettino press’ or just a standard press, it’s too early to say.
Ryan Loft gave Spurs the lead after a lovely, flowing move on the right involving Ross and Georgiou. Loft intelligently finished into the far corner.
Spurs frequently tried to switch play early, and on one such occasion, Joe Pritchard struck one right between two teammates and out of play.
Stylianides usually plays in midfield and looked a little nervous at times defensively, but he made a superb saving challenge in the left-back area having initially been outpaced by the winger. He kept up and timed the tackle perfectly.
Walker-Peters was typically up and down all match, and on fifteen minutes he somehow managed to hang onto the ball despite being tripped, and got up to play a clever pass – his close control and balance are fantastic.
Amos pinged a lovely cross-field pass to Georgiou, as we looked to focus our attacks down the left. A minute later, the ball came back to Georgiou again, and his back-heel set Walker-Peters free; the full-back’s low cross fell nicely to Harrison, but he curled the ball over the bar when he probably should have made it two.
Norwich equalised on eighteen minutes through another defensive mix-up. As Maghoma ran towards his own goal, he seemed to have the legs to keep up with Ashley-Seal and was in control. Voss came out to help deal with the situation, and Maghoma had to change course and slow down to avoid Voss, meaning that once the forward rounded the goalkeeper, he had the simple task of sliding the ball home.
Spurs bounced back immediately, with Georgiou picking up the ball from Loft, cutting in from the left flank, and toe-poking beyond the goalkeeper intelligently.
A minute later, Loft brought the ball down well and teed up Harrison who shot well over, and then Georgiou went very close with a lovely, curling effort that the goalkeeper palmed up straight into the air and then grabbed at the second attempt when it looked for a minute like it might drop into the net.
Harrison’s neat first touch drew a foul, and Cy Goddard stepped up to take the free-kick on the edge of the box. He got the ball up and down neatly, but put it wide.
Maghoma drove an accurate, flat cross-field pass over to Georgiou, who beat his man again but overhit his cross.
It was nearly 3-1 when Pritchard charged forward after a poor kick from the goalkeeper. His shot was blocked and just as it seemed about to land at the feet of a Spurs player, the keeper pounced on it.
Goddard was having an up and down day with his passing, and played one straight into touch as he looked to get things moving quickly.
Ross made a good recovery challenge on the right after his own error had landed him in trouble, and then Goddard’s quick feet allowed him to tee up Ross for a shot which sent straight at the goalkeeper.
Walker-Peters went on a typically slaloming run down the left – carrying the ball most of the length of the pitch – and drew a free-kick which came to nothing.
A ball into the box from Norwich caused a bit of confusion, with John McDermott telling Maghoma “Christian, you’ve got to be heading that”.
Ross nearly got on the end of a Georgiou cross, before Amos got a talking to from the referee for an accumulation of fouls, although on this occasion he did seem to have won the ball.
Pritchard played a nice pass inside the fullback to Ross, who couldn’t quite get the ball out of his feet to get a shot away.
There was a good chance for Todd Cantwell after a clever pass from Bernard Ashley-Seal, but Voss made the save, getting down quickly. Then, Pritchard nearly directed the ball into his own goal when he slid in to block a cross at the near post.
Loft nicked the ball from Harley Black in the Norwich half, and played Amos in with a slightly under-hit pass. Amos did superbly to wriggle away from two men, and was taken down when he had a clear run at goal, leading to Black being shown a yellow card just before half-time.
Norwich made a change at half-time, taking off Black and having a re-shuffle, resulting in the new man, Christian Scales, playing at full-back.
Georgiou almost instantly had a good chance one-on-one – he cut in from the left and, with options either side of him, he elected to try a shot with his weaker right foot, and the keeper made a straightforward save.
Another nice move from Spurs saw Amos find Pritchard, who played in Loft – the ball was slightly too heavy and the goalkeeper did well to gather it. At the other end, Norwich’s athletic captain, Jamie Eaton-Collins, drew a good save from Voss with a shot across goal.
Spurs extended their lead when Walker-Peters made yet another excellent run, found Georgiou, and his low cross from the left made it to Loft. Although his contact wasn’t as firm as he might have hoped, it squirmed underneath the goalkeeper.
Soon after, Goddard went over in the box, but it looked like a clean challenge on this occasion.
Spurs made a couple of substitutions, bringing on Armani Daly and Charlie Hayford for Pritchard and Georgiou. Daly went out to the left, and Hayford played in midfield. Hayford, on first look, reminded me a little of former Academy player, Jack Munns – small but quite stocky and barrel-chested.
Voss was out to mop up well after Stylianides sold him short with a back pass.
Ross’ cross shot came to nothing after Daly had cut in from the left and dribbled across the edge of the box to tee him up.
Spurs’ fourth goal came when Walker-Peters came in off the left flank, took aim, and fired a rocket of a shot in off the underside of the crossbar. A wonderful goal to cap a wonderful performance.
Norwich’s big number 14 in midfield was making Hayford, Goddard and Amos look a little vulnerable, so it wasn’t long before we brought on the tall Chris Paul for Amos to offer more presence.
I had to leave early to ensure I got home in time for the West Ham game, but Norwich scored another consolation right at the end – and apparently it was a good goal too: Jamal curling home from range.
This was a Spurs performance that was easy on the eye, against poor opposition. There were a handful of stand-out performers, with the majority of players not truly tested or put under pressure – in that sense, it was a perfect first game of the season.
Kyle Walker – not Walker-Peters! – appeared to watch a few minutes of the game. Also watching was Jon Miles; the goalkeeper had said his goodbyes on Twitter at the end of the season, but was wearing his Spurs tracksuit. I wonder whether he’s perhaps going to take on a coaching role, or is training with the club on a non-contract basis.
Harry Voss 6 – With a new (and slightly makeshift) defence ahead of him, who were playing very high, it wasn’t an easy game for Voss. He was at fault for Norwich’s equaliser, but did make some good stops.
Lloyd Ross 6 – Did a reasonable job filling in, and got forward well in support.
Christian Maghoma 6 – Looked a little out of sorts playing alongside an unfamiliar partner, but still seems to have time on the ball.
Zenon Stylianides 6 – Filled in well at centre-back, and was very comfortable on the ball. A few slip-ups, but mostly defended pretty well.
Kyle Walker-Peters 9 – For me, he’s already too good for this level. His balance, pace and ball control are exceptional, and he is able to carry the attack time after time from full-back.
Luke Amos 8 – A very composed and commanding midfield performance from Amos, who seems to have grown a few inches. Reads the game well, mops up danger, and moves the ball nice and quickly.
Shayon Harrison 6 – Definitely not as effective playing on the wing, but with Loft coming up this season, he might have to get used to playing in different roles.
Joe Pritchard 6 – Worked really hard to press the Norwich midfield and defence, but wasn’t always effective in possession.
Cy Goddard 6 – Moved between incisive, clever passing, to surrendering possession cheaply, with very little in between. I like the way he tries to play the game, though, and I’d expect him to step up this season.
Anthony Georgiou 8 – A constant thorn in Norwich’s side with his direct running and ability to beat a man.
Ryan Loft 7 – Showed a good touch and awareness, leading the line well and giving us a platform to build from.
Hayford – Was neat and tidy in midfield.
Daly – Didn’t have too many opportunities to get at his full-back, but didn’t shy away from the ball.
Paul – Worked hard to maintain the pressing game in midfield.