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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.
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)*
Kenneth McEvoy (17) for Daniel Akindayini.
Dominic Ball (16) for Connor Ogilvie.
Roman Michael-Percil (16)
Liam Priestley (15?)
James Yeboah (17)
Niall Keown Matt Partridge Jake Cooper Shane Griffin
Ryan Edwards Aaron Tshibola John Webb Daniel Carr
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.