April 4, 2011
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Alex McQueen (16*) James Yeboah (17) William Ekong (17) Daniel Day (17)
Jack Munns (17) Ronnie Hawkins (17) Massimo Luongo (18) Paul McBride (18)
Lee Angol (16)
Shaquille Coulthirst (16)
Kenneth McEvoy (16) for Ronnie Hawkins, 65 minutes.
Freddie Champion (17) for Lee Angol, 72 minutes.
Oliver Modeste (16*) for Jack Munns, 80 minutes.
*age unknown, so best estimate given.
Some alternative match reports:
Spurs again went with a 4-4-1-1 formation but made a number of changes from last week’s game due to a slightly hectic schedule over the next week (Cardiff on Tuesday, and Southampton next weekend). The defence was totally changed (and included three first years and an U16), whilst Luongo returned from the Australian national side’s training camp to play in the middle of midfield in place of the injured Dombaxe, who was there watching with a heavily strapped leg. Shaq Coulthirst replaced Kudus Oyenuga up front, as Kudus has gone on trial with Finnish side MyPa with a view to joining Jake Nicholson there on loan.
MK Dons went with one up front, and the tricky Igor Coronado playing wide. As an aside, Coronado was a player I had seen when we beat MK Dons 6-0 back in November 2009 and so I was surprised to see him still playing at this level – it turns out that at the end of last season they invited him to stay on on “extended schoolboy terms”. He is now 19 now but still very small and slightly built, so this level of football suits him at this point in his career.
Spurs had plenty of possession in the early stages and didn’t have the same physicality problem as last week as MK Dons are not the biggest side either. We had two decent chances in the first fifteen minutes; first, Coulthirst found space just inside the box, and curled a low shot to the far post which the goalkeeper got down to well to turn around the post. A little more power and it would have been 1-0. Then, after Munns was fouled outside the box, Hawkins stepped up to take the free kick and lifted a beauty on to the bar with his left foot – it looked initially like it was going to go a long way over, but he has that knack of getting plenty of dip on the ball.
Hawkins was involved again shortly after, getting McBride in with a cracking pass over the top, but McBride seemed to be caught in two minds, and weakly dragged a cross/shot well wide. MK Dons came back into the game as Spurs failed to capitalise on their possession, and we could have been down to ten men on around thirty minutes when James Yeboah went right through the back of the lone striker, leaving him in a lot of pain and requiring treatment. It’s worth mentioning at this point that the young lad’s dad was having a moan at the referee at half time and said something along the lines of “how is that not even a yellow, ref? That’s my son’s career at stake”. He had a point.
Spurs put together the best move of the game five minutes before the break. McBride was found with a clever cross-field diagonal, and put in an excellent cross. Alex McQueen had got forward from right-back and cleverly headed back into the path of Angol who, slightly rushed by a defender’s presence, volleyed well over the bar on the upward bounce.
Spurs finished the half by creating two more really decent chances without playing particularly well. Lee Angol headed an excellent Ronnie Hawkins corner on to the bar from the near post, and then McBride linked up with Coulthirst to get on to a flicked header. He beat two men to the ball, and just as he was about to pull the trigger, a last ditch tackle came in. The speed of the attack meant that he was never quite in full control of the ball, otherwise he may have been able to beat the last man too.
I felt at half time that if we could break the deadlock, then we would go on and win comfortably – it was just a case of biding our time, continuing to play football, and waiting for the chance to come. As it turned out, we didn’t have to be patient, as MK Dons handed us the first goal on a plate with less than ten minutes of the second half gone. The right back received the ball from his goalkeeper, stupidly came inside under pressure from two players, before making a poor pass out. The impressive Luongo challenged and quickly found Coulthirst, who took his time and beat the goalkeeper easily. MK Dons went straight up the other end and forced a decent save from Jonathan Miles, but whilst doing so their defenders were still bickering about the goal – “it’s all on you”, one of them said to the full back!
As suspected, it wasn’t long before we scored again, and it was a real beauty. Hawkins played an exquisite pass straight into the path of McQueen, who beat his man easily and put in a fantastic cross to the near post, which Coulthirst guided in across the keeper. The power on the cross meant that Coulthirst just needed the slightest of touches, which he provided well.
Not long after, it was 3-0. MK Dons looked poor at defending set pieces throughout the game, but this was in part due to our excellent delivery. This time it was an in-swinger from Munns, and Luongo lost his marker and got up to bury the header.
Spurs used the 3-0 advantage as an opportunity to get some of the younger players involved – first, 16 year old Kenneth McEvoy came on for Ronnie Hawkins, with Jack Munns moving inside and McEvoy heading to the right hand side. Just after this substitution, we had a string of corners, all taken by Munns – one went all the way through and nearly crept in at the far post, and another was palmed out by the goalkeeper.
The final goal of the game came when MK Dons made the same mistake as they did for the first goal. They attempted to play out from the back, and Angol pounced on a loose ball, feeding Coulthirst for another relatively easy finish, and his hat-trick.
With about twenty minutes remaining, and McQueen and McEvoy getting some joy on the right, I felt that more goals were just a matter of time. We brought on Champion for Angol, and then shortly afterwards, another Under 16, Oliver Modeste, for Munns. When Coulthirst went down with cramp, our coaching team sensibly called him off, and McEvoy moved up front – from there, we understandably gave up our dominance. MK Dons nearly took advantage of their numerical advantage to get an equaliser – their centre forward rounded Miles and squared for a team mate but he chose to take a touch, allowing our defenders to close him, and we managed to clear the ball. Just before the end of the match, James Yeboah finally got a booking after a string of poor challenges.
MK Dons tried to play out from the back every time, which was admirable. However, our pressing at such a high tempo meant that they often ended up conceding possession. We ended up scoring two of our goals through this, and MK Dons didn’t learn from their mistakes.
Jonathan Miles 6 – Did what he needed to do. A very vocal keeper, who is constantly reminding the other players where to be.
Alex McQueen 8 – Very quick, very direct, and with good feet. Not a natural right back, but untroubled defensively on this occasion. On the few times that he was beaten, he was often able to use his pace to recover. Looks a real prospect, but will hopefully mainly be used on the wings in future.
James Yeboah 4 – Aside from the challenge mentioned earlier, he also caught someone quite badly in an aerial challenge that he was never going to win, and finally got his booking for going to ground and not getting the ball for the second time. Understandably rusty as he has not played much this season.
William Ekong 5 – Like Yeboah, he was rusty. He gave the ball away a few times when playing out from the back, and tended to dally too long when in possession. Defensively he did OK although he was not really tested too often.
Daniel Day 5 – An all-action player who looks lively even when he’s not playing well. Very enthusiastic with a good work ethic. It wasn’t a great performance from him, but he got forward quite well in support of McBride. Coronado beat him several times in the first half, but then he is three years older.
Jack Munns 6 – Is clearly not at his most effective when playing from the right, but he works so hard for the team. Always has a good touch and a real awareness to his game.
Ronnie Hawkins 7 – He has got an excellent left foot, and used it to good effect a number of times. He was unlucky with his free kick that hit the bar, and was involved in most of our best moves. A player I enjoy watching.
Massimo Luongo 9 – Strong, composed, intelligent, rarely gives the ball away, and got a goal from a header – a real prospect and a player I’m looking forward to seeing more of.
Paul McBride 6 – Another fairly quiet performance with several promising moments. Will have long periods of doing very little, but then deliver a peach of a ball. As a result, I still find it very hard to decide what to make of him.
Lee Angol 6 – A busy performance, where he showed good strength and pace on a number of occasions. Although raw, I like the look of him.
Shaquille Coulthirst 8 – Scored three goals and nearly scored another – you can’t argue with that. I hope that he will really establish himself next year, and should score plenty if he keeps up this level of performance.
Kenneth McEvoy – A Republic of Ireland U17 international who seems to have plenty of pace and the ability to beat a man. He’ll be one to keep an eye on next season too.
Freddy Champion – I’ve still not worked out quite what he brings to the team but, in fairness, I’ve not seen enough of him to really pass judgement.
Oliver Modeste – Looked keen to get on the ball – another to keep an eye on.
The team will be going off to the Belinzona Under 19 tournament in a few weeks, and it will be interesting to see which players are included in the squad.