02/05/09 Tottenham Hotspur U18s 4-1 West Ham United U18s, Spurs Lodge
A sunny morning brought out a decent crowd at Spurs Lodge on Saturday morning, a crowd including Michael Dawson (in training gear and walking freely) and Tim Sherwood.
Arriving slightly too late to get a team-sheet, we were pleased that there were only two players who we’d not seen before – the fairly recognisable Coskun Ekim (or Josh, as the other players call him), and Harry Kane. Spurs lined up in a slightly unfamiliar formation – the usual 4-4-1-1 adapted, with Mason playing just off a front two of Byrne and Kane. The three central midfielders often interchanged, but largely lined up with Parrett to the right, Kasim to the left, and Ekim central.
Smith (18) Caulker (17) Butcher (18) Cox (18)
Parrett (c) (17) Ekim (17) Kasim (17)
Byrne (16) Kane (? U16)
Substitutes: Nicholson (16), Carroll (16), Fredericks (? U16)
The opening of the game was incredibly frantic, with a couple of chances at both ends and neither team really able to gain a foothold. Spurs were playing the better football, but largely outside the box. West Ham had a great chance at the back post, before Mason started finding space, and had a couple of efforts on goal.
As the half went on, it was clear that the formation did not really suit Spurs – the midfield players weren’t sure who was holding and who was breaking forward. Ekim made a couple of bad challenges, the second of which lead to the referee brandishing a yellow card. Players were getting frustrated with each other, and it was particularly clear that they wanted Kasim to release the ball earlier. The highlight of the half was Mason hitting the crossbar with a volley from inside the box.
As suspected, Ekim didn’t reappear in the second half, with his replacement, Jake Nicholson, playing at left back. This meant that Cox played the holding midfield role, Kasim went to the left, Byrne to the right, and Mason played just off U-16 striker Harry Kane.
Smith Caulker Butcher Nicholson
Byrne Parrett Cox Kasim
The second goal came soon after. Dean Parrett was having an excellent second half, and broke forward from midfield again. He slipped a nice pass through to Mason, who this time made no mistake, dinking his finish over the goalkeeper – the celebration was one of relief for Mason, who had missed a few chances. Spurs really began to dominate now, and looked like scoring every time they went forward. The third goal came from another set piece – this time Steven Caulker (the usual target) won a header, and Harry Kane tapped in after a real goalmouth scramble. Kane deserved a goal for a hard-working performance.
And having said Harry Kane deserved his goal, Nathan Byrne certainly deserved his second after a livewire second half in which he tore the West Ham left back to shreds. Substitute Ryan Fredericks showed good feet and put in a cross – the ball eventually fell to Byrne, who fired home with a low shot home from the edge of the penalty area.
West Ham’s goal when Jansson came out flapping and missed the ball. It was a poor mistake and not his first of the day – his kicking is pretty unreliable. That said, West Ham will feel they “got away with it” a bit in losing by only three goals – it could easily have been more.
A few of the West Ham players seemed to have real “attitudes”. The red-haired full-back was particularly mouthy, and picked up a yellow card following a cynical tackle. I’m not sure whether the booking was for the challenge, or for the fact that he picked up the ball and threw it down before effing and blinding at the referee. At one point, Kasim made a challenge which a West Ham player didn’t like. A few West Ham players then surrounded Kasim, and he was pushed. He shoved back, before Dean Parrett maturely put his arm around him and lead him away.
Jansson – As mentioned above, he was at fault for the consolation goal, and his kicking was sloppy. He is a very vocal goalkeeper – his Swedish accent making his voice easy to distinguish. 5/10
Smith – In his first half role he got forward well. Less so in the second half, but had a steady game and rarely looks like being beaten. 6/10
Caulker – Coped very well against the giant striker, Bálint Bajner, and has a tonne of ability. Certainly one for the future. 7/10
Butcher – Like Caulker, coped very well in aerial challenges. He’s a bit more “agricultural” than his centre back partner – the Nemanja Vidic to Caulker’s Rio Ferdinand (!), but still has plenty of promise. I imagine he’ll go out on loan next year as he’s coming to the end of his trainee contract. 7/10
Cox – Looked far better at left-back than centre midfield, but sometimes struggles because he’s very right-footed. Fantastic work ethic, but limited ability. 6/10
Parrett – The best I’ve seen from him. All-action second half with some great breaks forward and also some solid defensive work. Got the assist for Mason’s goal with a typical driving run and pass. 7/10
Ekim – Very much off-the-pace, and a little lost – it’s no surprise that he’s not played an awful lot this year. With him also walking the tightrope of a yellow card, it was obvious that he’d be taken off at half-time. 4/10
Kasim – Not his best game, but it’s clear that he’s a very good player. He has a tendency to hang on to the ball a little too long at times – probably because he can at this level. So strong, and protects the ball brilliantly. 6/10
Mason – I can’t quite place in my mind at which point it occurred, but Mason had a superb dipping volley that dropped steeply and cannoned off the crossbar. Virtually every good move came through him, and on another day he’d have had a hat-trick. Hit the woodwork twice, and also missed a couple of other good chances. 8/10
Byrne – I’d not seem him play a full 90 before, and was mainly used to him playing at right-back. He is pacy and full of energy. He got his two goals and was involved in plenty of other good moves, and was my MOTM. 8/10
Kane – Started slowly, but grew into the game. He’s only young, but is quite tall, and competes well in the air. Also has good ability, and his hold up play got better as he grew in confidence. 7/10
Nicholson – Looks good going forward, but a little naive defensively. Did a good job at left back considering he’s right-footed. 6/10
Carroll – He is tiny. According to the official site, he’s nearly 17, but he is very small, and his voice hasn’t yet broken. Seemed to have good technique, and I’m sure we’ll see more of him once he’s a bit bigger and stronger.
Fredericks – A good bit of play leading to Byrne’s second goal, and wasn’t scared to get on the ball in his short cameo.