28/01/12 Reading U18s 4-2 Tottenham Hotspur U18s, Hogwood Park

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You can also hear me on The Fighting Cock podcast.

First things first, I need to let you know about #TottenhamUltras – The Fighting Cock Project. The Fighting Cock podcast is aiming to get 100+ people to The Valley for Charlton U18s vs Tottenham Hotspur U18s in the FA Youth Cup. The match is on February 16th, 7pm kick off – we’re meeting between 4:30pm and 6:00pm at The Bridge Bar in London Bridge Station, before heading to the game and giving our young players the kind of support they have yet to experience. It would be great to see you there!

Now on to the game… Spurs were playing a physically big and strong Reading side who, before kick off, were second in Group B of the FA Premier Academy League, having beaten league leaders Coventry last week. Spurs were in third place, four points behind Reading having played two games more.

Billy Granger (17)
Alex McQueen (16) William Ekong (18) Oliver Modeste (17) Connor Ogilvie (15)
Jack Munns (18) Ruben Lameiras (17)
Victor Zapata-Caceido (17) Grant Ward (17) Daniel Akindayini (15?)
Mason Bush (17)*

*I list Bush as being the primary forward, but he and Ward constantly switched, and Ward was often more advanced in the second half.


Kenneth McEvoy (17) for Daniel Akindayini.
Dominic Ball (16) for Connor Ogilvie.

Unused subs:

Roman Michael-Percil (16)
Liam Priestley (15?)
James Yeboah (17)

Reading’s team:

Dean Santagrio
Niall Keown Matt Partridge Jake Cooper Shane Griffin
Ryan Edwards Aaron Tshibola John Webb Daniel Carr
Craig Tanner
Dominic Samuel

We arrived late due to having a few issues locating Reading’s Hogwood Park training ground in Finchampstead, and we missed the opening minutes. Just as we approached the pitch, Grant Ward scored for Spurs – I assumed this was the opening goal, but later found out that it was an equaliser.

Spurs seemed to be dominating possession, and had another good chance on around 14 minutes when Zapta-Caceido picked up on a loose ball, and cleverly headed it over the centre back into the path of Ward, but he was unable to prod the ball home, with defenders converging on him.

Zapata-Caceido himself then had a goal ruled out for offside, as he got on the end of an excellent cross from the left, before Reading made an early change – Murphy coming on for Webb. A Munns through ball nearly made it into the path of Zapta-Caceido, before McQueen pounced on a loose ball and drove down the right before over-hitting his cross badly to the frustration of his team mates.

Spurs scored their second on 21 minutes as Bush broke clear in the left channel, and his firm, low finish was saved by the goalkeeper, but rebounded back and trickled in off the defender’s legs.

McQueen again was quick to pick up on an error and raided on the right, but his low cross was cleared at the near post. A long ball from Reading was then helped on, and Granger anticipated it well, coming and claiming right at the edge of his box with Samuel bearing down on him.

Reading’s Dominic Samuel, who signed a professional contract in December, had a good chance on 25 minutes, when he met a low cross with a scissor-kick, but it skidded wide. Spurs then put a neat passing move together, keeping it well in midfield, and nearly breaking Reading down again, but Bush’s pass inside the full back was a little heavy for McQueen, who had made yet another break forward from right back.

Oliver Modeste found McQueen wide on the right with an excellent floated pass. He controlled and marauded forward again and,although hacked at by Reading’s Daniel Carr, he kept his feet and fired a cross in, but it was cleared again. The action was straight back down the other end as Reading countered but Modeste made a perfectly timed sliding challenge to stop the threat.

On the half hour mark, Carr made an excellent run down the left, beating Zapata-Caceido and then McQueen before forcing a corner, which was over-hit and cleared easily. Mason Bush picked the pocket of James Murphy, and nearly found Ward, but his cross just evaded him.

Soon after, Ogilvie won a tackle and passed up the line to Akindayini, who immediately found Ward with a clever pass, but as he advanced he scuffed his shot slightly and it went wide at the near post. Dutch U19 international William Ekong then strode forward confidently having won the ball back, but over-hit his pass to Bush.

Reading had another dangerous moment as the ball was flashed across the box, but put wide by substitute Murphy, who seemed surprised that it had reached him at the far post. Craig Tanner’s deep free kick from the Reading left looked like it may dip over Granger, but he adjusted his body at the last minute to leap back and palm it out.

Akindayini was substituted shortly before half time, presumably injured – he was replaced by Irish U19 winger, Kenneth McEvoy.

Jake Cooper headed wide from a corner, before the referee gave Reading a route back into the game. Oliver Modeste was tussling with Tanner in the box, both tugging slightly at each other, and when Tanner threw himself to the ground, the referee blew up and awarded a very generous penalty, which was converted by Samuel.

The second half began with Reading stopping Spurs playing out from the back. As a result, Spurs were forced to play more long passes, which Reading’s big centre halves had no problem defending. Reading were also using the ball better themselves, and Murphy, very involved after coming on as a first half sub, beat Granger to the ball, but was only able to direct the ball wide.

Dominic Samuel fed Tanner, who drew a good save from Granger. Minutes later, Samuel picked up the ball around 25 yards out, took a touch and smashed the ball beyond Granger into the top corner. Unstoppable.

Reading had another penalty shout a minute later, when Ogilvie appeared to go shoulder to shoulder with his man when running into the box. With Ogilvie slightly behind the advancing winger, it could easily have been given, but when the Reading fans to our right asked the linesman (who had a good view) why he hadn’t given it, he said “no chance”.

On 60 minutes, Lameiras was booked after being caught in possession and pulling the advancing player back.

McEvoy made progress down the left, and found Ward – his cross was well cleared out for a throw. Ward then had a snapshot saved at the near post after Lameiras had found McEvoy. Soon after, Bush, who played much deeper in the second half, failed to slide in Zapata-Caceido as we broke forward.

On 68 minutes, it was 4-2. Reading advanced down the left – Granger made a move to his near post, but didn’t do anything to close the angle, and when the cross came in, it ran past him and Samuel scored his hat-trick goal at the far post, this time a tap in.

As Spurs looked for a way back into the game, Dominic Ball came on for left-back Ogilvie, and seemed to play just ahead of the defence, with Modeste playing slightly further left, and McQueen slightly less advanced, presumably in an effort to help us play out from the back. Whilst this did happen, we failed to keep the ball in midfield, with Munns not having much luck with his typically swashbuckling runs, and Lameiras tiring and struggling to find the rhythm to his passing that he had in the first half.

Keown was booked for going to ground on Zapata-Caceido and then preventing him taking the resultant throw-in, before Jack Munns charged forward with purpose, danced down the left blank, fed Bush, and his chipped cross was met at the far post by little Ken McEvoy. It looked like a definite goal, but the keeper managed to keep it out, before the ball rebounded off the defender and was cleared off the line, and the loose ball was eventually cleared.

There was yet another booking for a shirt pull by Tshibola in midfield, before Ball, the substitute, was also booked for a tackle, just seconds after the referee had missed a clear foul on Munns (which riled our players!).

Spurs had a late penalty appeal when Zapata-Caceido appeared to be pulled back, but the game petered out.

Billy Granger – He didn’t have a particularly good day, making a few fundamental errors with his handling, and his positioning for the third goal was not great. He will learn from today, though, and hopefully come back stronger.
Alex McQueen – I like him playing at full back – he has so much energy when going forward, and has the Walker-esque recovery pace to not be caught out too often.
William Ekong – Despite Spurs conceding four, he actually had a good game. Decent in possession and largely dominant.
Oliver Modeste – He had some good moments, and some less so. Very unfortunate for the penalty, but he lost possession a couple of times in dangerous areas.
Connor Ogilvie – Was generally solid defensively, with a couple of lapses. In fairness, he was up against a very handy winger. Going forward he showed enthusiasm and determination, but didn’t always make progress.
Jack Munns – As ever, he worked hard and tried to drive us forward, but he tends to be a little let down by his forward passing.
Ruben Lameiras – Had an excellent first half, controlling our possession play with clever movement and passing. In the second half he seemed to tire, and was quite wasteful.
Victor Zapata-Caceido – Was in and out of the game, and may have benefited from playing in a more central area.
Grant Ward – Was influential in the first half, picking up the ball in pockets of space and creating openings. Much quieter in the second.
Daniel Akindayini – My first look at him, and he looks to have a good touch and impressive balance, although he struggled to get into the game. Unfortunately his day ended early, presumably due to injury.
Mason Bush – Looks a lot bigger and taller than when I last saw him, and he seemed to mainly play as the front man in the first half. In the second half he kept coming deeper, and we seemed less of a threat as a result. Looks to have a very neat touch and good awareness.

Kenneth McEvoy – Although he came on early, he didn’t really get on the ball much, although he was very unlucky not to score with a back-post header.
Dominic Ball – I thought we could have done with him coming on a little earlier in the second half as Reading were imposing themselves physically.

Analysis of the goals conceded against Man City (22/1)

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PLEASE DON’T READ THIS! It will only make you feel worse. I wanted to avoid doing it, but my OCD wouldn’t allow me to. Ah well, here goes…

Samir Nasri’s goalSilva picks up the ball on the right, cuts in to where he is most dangerous, and releases Nasri with a superb through-ball, which is finished well.

Silva picks up the ball wide on City’s right.

He comes inside looking to create and exchanges passes to receive the ball back in a more central area.

This is the part of the pitch where he damages teams. As Modric closes him, he looks up and sees the run that Nasri is making.

Nasri has made a driving run in front of Walker and is darting in behind Kaboul.

Silva executes a straight pass absolutely perfectly, totally splitting our defence. Because Walker has not read the situation, Nasri is unchallenged when he receives the ball.

It’s a fine finish from Nasri – smashed beyond Friedel first time.

Joleon Lescott’s goalA City corner is bundled home by Lescott, who pulls away from Walker and wins a challenge with Parker.

As City take their set piece, Spurs are set out relatively unusually, with no man on either post (we usually have at least one man on a post!). Bale is beaten by Dzeko at the near post. Note Lescott making his run toward the back post with his marker, Walker, totally unaware.

Walker is nowhere near touch-tight to Lescott.

When Dzeko wins the flick on, Lescott has far too much space and is able to meet the ball. Parker attempts to challenge him.

Lescott is stronger in the challenge, with momentum on his side.

Does the ball eventually go in off Parker? When watching the video, it does look that way.

Mario Balotelli’s goalClichy hits a hopeful pass forward, and the bounce of the ball puts Spurs on the back foot. Balotelli gets the better of King, who makes a desperate lunge, missing the ball. Balotelli scores the resultant penalty.

Assou-Ekotto doesn’t allow the ball to roll out for a Spurs throw-in, instead choosing to smash the ball up-field. Defoe doesn’t make a challenge, as it is headed clear.

Clichy smashes the ball forward with the outside of his left foot.

The ball bounces beyond our midfield, as City look to find a way through.

It seems like Kaboul has covered round, but….

…Balotelli seems to get away from both King and Kaboul. He seems to be in such a wide position that he won’t trouble us, but when he delays his shot, King thinks he can nab the ball.

He gets so close to making contact, but Balotelli holds him off, and he brings him down.

The penalty is well-placed and cruelly makes it 3-2.

Spurs’s game-plan pretty much worked in the first half – van der Vaart and Modric played ahead of Parker in a 4-1-4-1 formation, and the game was tight and cagey. In the second, we were generally the better side, putting together some nice passing moves and creating chances. If it wasn’t for some poor defending and missed chances, we’d have come away with three richly deserved points.

Analysis of the goal conceded against Wolves (15/1)

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Steven Fletcher’s goalWalker “concedes” a corner, and Johnson gets up above Dawson to meet Jarvis’ kick. Friedel saves his header, but it comes out into the six-yard box, and Fletcher reacts first.

Walker gives the ball away with a chipped pass down the line, and it comes back at us. However, Walker redeems himself by going shoulder to shoulder with Edwards, who nudges the ball forward. Walker sees the ball out, and trots off expecting a goal kick to be given – the referee (out of shot, so presumably without a decent view of the incident) gives a corner.

Jarvis is quick on the scene and seems to want to take the corner before we are set up – a move that we should also adopt more often – and Spurs don’t seem quite ready. However, it is a “looping” corner into the six-yard box and, for all his faults, one that I would have expected Gomes to come out and attempt to punch clear. Friedel stays on his line, and lets the defenders attempt to deal with it. Johnson gets up really high and meets the ball at the back post ahead of Dawson.

Friedel reacts to keep out the header as Kaboul, who was leaping with Fletcher, readjusts his body and tries to see where the ball has gone.

Friedel’s hand-out falls nicely for Wolves in the six-yard box, and Fletcher is first to react, and prods home from close range.

It was very frustrating to concede from a set piece – particularly one that was wrongly awarded – but it would be easier to take if we made the most of set pieces ourselves. We had eight corners in this game, compared to Wolves’ one, and we failed to threaten from any. I personally think that van der Vaart’s corners are poor, and that we should try someone else on corner duty for a sustained period – perhaps Assou-Ekotto. The only time that we seem to threaten from corners is when we find Bale’s near-post run, but teams have got to know that ploy now, and he is generally either blocked off or closely watched.

Update on our young players

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The following is a piece I have written for the magazine of a Norwegian supporters’ club called Tottenhams Venner (“Tottenham’s Friends”).


Jordan Archer, 18, Professional – He only played in the first NextGen Series and FA Premier Academy League (FAPAL) matches owing to his loan at Bishop’s Stortford, where he has been performing consistently well. He is also a recent call up to the Scotland U21 squad, and will be looking for a league club to join on loan in January.

Jonathan Miles, 18, 3rd year – He had a good game against Inter Milan in the NextGen Series, and was also one of the star men against Basel when he excelled with some great saves, especially one with his legs towards the end of the match. Jon seems to be getting more pro-active with age, and is always very vocal.

Billy Granger, 17, 1st year – Having played most of the Milk Cup matches, he initially found it hard to displace Miles and Archer for the FAPAL matches, but since Archer went out on loan, and Miles moved more towards the development squad, he has become more of a regular.


Jake Nicholson, 19, Professional – He has primarily played as a centre-back in NextGen Series matches, despite being a holding midfield player by trade. He has been a steadying influence at the back, and someone who constantly talks to his team-mates – he will certainly be looking for a taste of league football over the next year.

Jack Barthram, 18, 2nd year – Jack is becoming a very competent attacking right-back, with good recovery pace and a fantastic attitude. In the Basel home game he was up against a very physical opponent in substitute Sulejmani, but coped well throughout and made constant bursts forward when Pritchard tucked in (although was rarely picked out).

Kevin Stewart, 18, 2nd year – A versatile player who is often played at left back despite not being naturally left-sided. He can do a job anywhere along the back-line, although I personally think that he is best at centre back, and that it would do him some good to get a prolonged run there. I could see him going out on loan, as he seems to have the maturity to cope with league football.

Daniel Day, 18, 2nd year – A very enthusiastic and committed full-back, but he is occasionally reckless. He is one player who really helps to set the tempo, though, which is always needed at any level. He likes to make overlapping runs, which suits Tim Sherwood’s team shape.

Milos Veljkovic, 16, Unknown – A strong, composed centre half who plays like he is ten years older than he is; it is hard to believe that he is the youngest player in the squad. It was good to see him get on the score-sheet against his former club, Basel, when he headed in at the back post.

William Ekong, 18, 2nd year – He has unfortunately struggled with injury having initially been an under-18 regular, but is now fit again. A strong, imposing defender who is calm in possession – he will be hoping to gain more experience of playing for the Development Squad.

Ramil Sheriff, 18, 2nd year –I gather that he missed the start of the season through injury, but has come into the team from October on, playing either at centre back or right back. I think that is probably more a case of trying to keep him involved, rather than not being sure of his best position, as he seems much better at centre back to me.

James Yeboah, 18, 2nd year – Involved for both the under-18s and the Development squad this season, I get the impression that the club are taking a good look at him, trying to work out whether or not he will be offered a professional contract.

Thomas Gardiner, 16, 1st year – Having played most of the Milk Cup matches at centre back, he has only made two under-18 appearances (both at right back), so will be looking to push on during the remainder of the season.

Darren McQueen, 16, 1st year – Having missed the start of the season through injury, he made his comeback against Coventry in October, but sadly only lasted fifteen minutes before going down injured and being taken off. He is a promising player, though, and if he can put his injury problems behind him, he will be one to watch.

Oliver Modeste, 16, 1st year – One of the first year scholars who has really forced himself into the reckoning – he has been involved in most of the under-18 matches, either starting or coming off the bench. He has mostly played at left back, where he seems to be increasingly competent and reliable.

Alexander McQueen, 16, 1st year – A very quick player, who initially came into the under-18 side as an impact sub at full back or on the wing, but now tends to mostly play at centre back. I was really impressed with his use of the ball against Leicester City – he constantly stepped out from the back to attempt to play-make.


Massimo Luongo, 19, Professional – If you have read my reports before, you will know that I enjoy watching him play. Breaks up play, has good one and two touch passing, gets forward well, and is a strong, calm influence in the middle of the pitch. He made his first-team debut, coming off the bench in the League Cup game against Stoke, and unfortunately missed a penalty in the shoot-out. I think he will get more chances this season – an impressive player, and one to watch.

Alex Pritchard, 18, Professional – One of the stars of our NextGen Series campaign so far with some excellent performances, and he has also been an unused sub in two Europa League games. A clever, quick-footed, schemer who is very dangerous when cutting in from the flank. His set piece delivery has also caused teams a lot of problems.

Laste Dombaxe, 17, 1st year – A player who was used in various positions as a 15 and 16 year old in the Under-18s, but he now seems to have settled as a central midfield player. He has generally played more of a holding role, picking up the ball from the defence, and getting it into the feet of Pritchard and co. If he could add consistency to his performances, he could become a very useful player.

Tomislav Gomelt, 16, Unknown – He had the most bizarre match in the home fixture against Inter, scoring three excellent goals and showing some good touches, movement and passing, but then unfortunately getting a harsh red card for the trip which lead to the penalty. He wasn’t so effective in the away leg, and was withdrawn at half time. He was apparently wanted by Manchester City, but chose to come to Spurs.

Lee Angol, 17, 2nd year – Having been involved in the majority of the FAPAL games (mainly starting), Angol has not played a part since mid-November, so I suspect that he may have picked up an injury. I think he suffers a little from not really knowing his best position – is he a striker, or is he a midfield player?

Ronnie Hawkins, 17, 2nd year – He is a natural ball-player in the middle of midfield, so a little different in style to Luongo and Dombaxe. I could see Luongo going out on loan and, if he does, Hawkins could benefit with more games in the NextGen Series and for the Spurs XI.

Jack Munns, 18, 2nd year – One of the senior members of the team now, Munns is a very reliable midfield player who, somewhat like Scott Parker, gives everything in a game. His short passing game is good, and he is not afraid to put himself about. I gather that he has been one of the most consistent performers this season.

Roman Michael-Percil, 16, 1st year –He has been used as a bit of a utility player so far this season, starting either at right back or on either flank. He possesses pace and the ability to beat a man so has been a very useful impact sub. I would expect him to become more of a regular starter during the rest of the season.

Dominic Ball, 16, 1st year – Having been one of the stars of our Milk Cup campaign in pre-season, he started the opening game of the season, and has been in and out of the team since. He played at centre back in a couple of matches, using his passing ability to play-make from deep. He is clearly a talent, and will be looking to become a mainstay in the side during the rest of the season.

Mason Bush, 16, 1st year – He was getting the occasional start at the beginning of the FAPAL campaign but has not been involved since mid-October, so I presume that he is injured.

Ruben Lameiras, 17, 1st year –He has recently forced himself into the reckoning with some important contributions from the bench, including a leveller against Leicester. His quick one and two touch passing is a good fit for the brand of football that Inglethorpe likes to play, so I can see him really establishing himself in the second half of the season.

Samuel Smith, 17, 1st year –Yet to start an FAPAL match, but used as a substitute late in games. He is not the most creative of midfield players, but does seem to use the ball well and keep things simple, so he is ideal to bring on when winning a game. I am sure that he will get more chances in the remaining games.

Kenneth McEvoy, 17, 1st year –He won acclaim during the Milk Cup, and has been involved in the majority of the FAPAL games, scoring a hat-trick against MK Dons and starting on the right wing in all of the matches from mid-October. He is also the youngest of the players called up to recent Ireland under-19 squads. He is quick, skilful, and full of energy – I expect him to finish the season strongly.

Grant Ward, 17, 1st year –Predominantly a right winger, he has played across midfield, and also in both full backs positions for the under-18s, as Inglethorpe likes his full backs to offer width.


Harry Kane, 18, Professional – Often playing in midfield in the NextGen Series, Kane has been quietly effective without uprooting any trees. He has an ungainly style, but his touch is deceptively good and he has plenty of strength for one so young. He has scored goals at youth and reserve level, and also had a reasonable scoring record for League One side Leyton Orient last year. I think a lot of fans were expecting more from him in his Europa League showings, but it is important to remember that he is still very young and inexperienced – time is on his side.

Kudus Oyenuga, 18, Professional – Involved in some of the NextGen Series games, and some Spurs XI games, Kudus will be looking for more league experience after he only got a few brief appearances at Bury. He is hard-working and strong, but for me he still does not quite know when to release the ball, and he does make some odd decisions – Sherwood and Ferdinand both seem to focus a lot of their attention on him throughout matches!

Souleymane Coulibaly, 17, Professional (?) –For one so young, scoring three in the under-19 NextGen Series tournament so far is impressive. He is a work-horse, who does not stop running for the team, but often chooses to shoot when he has better options. In the Basel match he struggled a little against the impressive Kofi Nimely, but he did well to force the equaliser in the match away at Inter Milan.

Shaquile Coulthirst, 17, 1st year – He is in the first year of his scholarship, but he has the advantage of already knowing this level well, having played a lot as an under-16 player. He seems to have come on leaps and bounds this season, partly thanks to often playing from the left and cutting in. He has scored goals throughout the season, and seems to be one of the most important players in the side now.

Victor Zapata-Caicedo, 17, 1st year – He started most of the Milk Cup games (as a lone striker), but has found starts in the FAPAL hard to come by, mainly being used as a substitute. He may well get some more starts in the second half of the season, especially since Coulthirst has generally been playing from the left (although he may face competition from Coulibaly, who has now made his under-18 debut).

If you’re interested in following the progress of our young players, here are some people to follow:

@RayLo18 – goes to every U18 game and writes staggeringly detailed reports.
@spursodyssey – publishes said reports, and has fantastic Spurs knowledge.
@SamRooke89 and @therhinospeaks – both attend U18 matches.
@englandyouth – a superb tweeter and blogger on young English talent.

Also, listen out for my weekly segment on the youth and loan players on The Fighting Cock podcast.

Analysis of the goal conceded against Swansea (31/12)

Follow me on Twitter – @WindyCOYS.

You can also hear me on The Fighting Cock podcast.

Scott Sinclair’s goal – Joe Allen strides forward and finds Rangel. His deflected cross is not held by Friedel, and Scott Sinclair is left with an open goal at the far post.

Sometimes Redknapp goes a little kamikaze in search of a second goal – this time, he tries to hang on to the lead. Spurs drop deeper and deeper and stop pressing in the Swansea half – probably partly because the players no longer have the energy to do so.

As a result, Allen surges forward totally unchallenged, with our players sat off.

Allen slides the ball just beyond the reach of Bale who may have intercepted had he been fresh-legged.

The pass finds Rangel, who is a very similar player to Corluka. Not only does he wear the same shirt number, but he is a talented ball-playing right back, who is not blessed with tremendous pace.

For me, he tricks Assou-Ekotto far too easily with the classic winger trick of taking him inside with his first touch…

…and back out with his second – how many times have we seen Corluka, Walker or even Assou-Ekotto himself use this trick? The cross is sent in low, and despite being a couple of yards away, Assou-Ekotto manages to half block it. This should make it easier to deal with.

Kaboul seems to have had a shout from Friedel, as rather than hack the ball clear with his left foot, he slows down and protects the ball from Graham, ready for the goalkeeper to pounce.

Note at this point that the eventual goal-scorer, Sinclair, is behind Walker in the left wing position, but has a run on Kyle, who has made the assumption that Friedel will gather this.

But unfortunately Friedel has a howler, and doesn’t gather it cleanly. Walker needs to have assumed the worst…

…but instead, he has let Sinclair run alone to the far post, and he has the simple job of tapping home.

No doubt a point was a fair result in this game, as Swansea had a couple of other good chances to score. However, with five minutes to go, I can’t help but feel that we should have clung on. Redknapp’s substitutions were not the best – bringing on Defoe seemed like a logical idea early in the second half, to allow us to keep pressing the Swansea back line and forcing them into errors. However, bringing on Defoe and using him in the right wing-forward position with twenty minutes to go was quite odd – why not just put on a player that was used to playing a similar role? Kranjcar or Pienaar were both available. We stopped keeping the ball, and to me it seemed logical that a player like Kranjcar was needed to calm us in possession.

Ultimately, though, we were cost by Friedel’s first major blunder – his reliability has had a real impact on our team this season, and so I hope that this error does not undo all the confidence-building that his steady performances have achieved.