09/08/13 Chelsea U21s 2-4 Tottenham Hotspur U21s, Recreation Ground
Jordan Archer (20)
Ryan Fredericks (20) Dominic Ball (18) Kevin Stewart (19) Alex McQueen (18)
Nabil Bentaleb (18) Giancarlo Gallifuoco (19) Tom Carroll (21)
Yago Falque (23) Harry Kane (20) Shaq Coulthirst (19)
Ruben Lameiras (18) for Kevin Stewart, 66.
Grant Ward (18) for Alex McQueen, 74.
Darren McQueen (18) for Shaq Coulthirst, 77.
Substitutes not used:
Jon Miles (20)
Aaron McEneff (17)
Chelsea’s team was a very young (their team’s average age was two years younger than ours) one for this level, but mostly made up of physically strong players.
Christensen (17) Chalobah (18) Aké (18) Wright (17)
Loftus-Cheek (17) Swift (18)
Kiwomya (17) McEachran (20) Boga (16)
The game was delayed by 45 minutes after the Spurs team coach was late arriving, presumably due to the problems on the M25. A similar thing happened against Kingstonian, so I think they need to consider a new driver… or at least a new Sat Nav.
Spurs started quickly, and immediately worked a shooting opportunity; Nabil Bentaleb created space around the edge of the box, but dragged his shot wide.
Tom Carroll then showed his intentions as he clipped a lovely pass into the space ahead of Fredericks, but it skipped off the freshly-watered surface and out for a throw-in.
Spurs probably should have gone ahead when Harry Kane rushed and then robbed goalkeeper Beeney and laid off to the supporting Falque, who dallied before blasting over from close range as defenders converged.
Alex McQueen showed good recovery pace to stop Kiwomya making progress, before Archer made his first save of the night – Brown really should have done better when he was played in between Ball and Stewart, but Archer parried his powerful effort.
The two teams were very organised early on in the match, and it was interesting to hear a Chelsea player shout “you’re in my zone” to a teammate; such was the structure of the two sides, there was little room in the midfield and so it was hard work finding space. So congested was the midfield, in fact, that Carroll twice dropped out to the right back area in an attempt to receive the ball.
Carroll showed his defensive awareness, timing a tackle wonderfully as Brown was about to pull the trigger, before the ball was put out for a corner. Bentaleb cleared at the near post – a job he did consistently well throughout the match.
At the other end, Coulthirst showed neat control on the left, beat his man, but his intended pass was blocked.
Dominic Ball made a timely challenge on the slide, taking the ball cleanly and retaining possession. This won a good cheer and, whilst the flag was up, the referee allowed play to continue.
Minutes later Gallifuoco couldn’t replicate Ball’s perfect tackle. Boga went on a weaving run, fed Loftus-Cheek and, as Gallifuoco charged back in an attempt to intercept, he mis-timed his toe-poked challenge and clearly tripped Loftus-Cheek just inside the penalty area. McEachran stepped up to take the penalty kick and sent Archer the wrong way, side-footing to the goalkeeper’s left.
Spurs responded well to the goal, though, and could have immediately been level. Bentaleb surged through the centre and was cynically tripped as he executed his pass (although there was no yellow card shown). Kane stepped up to take the free-kick and his sweet, dipping effort was only narrowly over from at least 25 yards.
Nice interplay from Bentaleb and Coulthirst saw the forward work a one-on-one on the left. He tried to cut inside onto his preferred right foot, but had no route through. Instead, he went down the outside and crossed with his left foot, but the delay gave the defender time to get back at him and his cross was blocked. The resulting corner came to Falque at the far post, who slammed a vicious rising shot against the crossbar from close range.
Falque then cut in and had a cross easily blocked before Gallifuoco rode a challenge, breaking forward, and nearly fed Kane. The tall Australian then over hit a lofted pass to Fredericks which ran out for a goal kick.
Dominic Ball beat Brown in the air, giving Spurs a platform to build again. As Spurs probed for an opening, Carroll took on a shot from outside the penalty area which was blocked.
Stewart made a well-timed intervention, before Kane won a free kick which was taken quickly, and worked into a crossing opportunity which Falque over hit.
Fredericks drew a round of applause with a fine lunging challenge, showing extraordinary recovery pace and athleticism when it looked like Chelsea might counter.
Spurs put together a tidy move around the edge of the box, but Kane was forced to take his shot quickly and, whilst he did very well to keep it down, it was straight at Beeney.
The equaliser came when Coulthirst took advantage of a mistake, passed inside to Kane whose cross found Falque. He danced inside his man and finished low and hard, left footed. It had been coming.
Kevin Stewart was booked for a slightly two-footed challenge on Kiwomya on the Chelsea right – Archer claimed the free kick, and immediately found Falque. He linked up nicely with Fredericks on the overlap, before Tom Carroll took over. He passed to Coulthirst on the other side, but Chelsea were quick with their defensive transition, and stopped the counter.
McEachran had taken a knock earlier in the half and departed, replaced by 18-year old Lewis Baker. It seemed that this change coincided with Chelsea falling apart but, in fairness to Baker, Spurs had already shown plenty of signs of growing into the game, and were establishing a pattern prior to his introduction.
Harry Kane pulled a shot wide on the turn, before Fredericks stepped up just in the nick of time to play Baker offside, as a neat move nearly caught Spurs napping.
Swift drew a save low down from Archer after being played in by Brown, but Spurs soon took control. Dominic Ball carried the ball forward (as he did well all evening) and played a pass into Carroll, who slid in Coulthirst between the centre backs. Coulthirst opted to dink an effort over the keeper; Beeney’s excellent save rebounded kindly for Falque, who still had a bit to do, but scored with a firmly struck, controlled finish.
Barely a minute later, Kane pounced on a loose pass (possibly from Brown), and expertly beat Beeney one-on-one; a fine finish into the far corner.
Brown created an opening for himself on the right, but he took an extra touch as defenders got back at him, ruining the angle for his shot which was harmlessly wide.
Carroll was blossoming in midfield, and his pass and move style and clever footwork created an opportunity for Coulthirst to advance – unfortunately his touch was a little heavy.
Fredericks and Falque linked well again, Fredericks beat Wright (who didn’t look a natural fullback) and stood up a cross which was blocked and cleared.
Dominic Ball was booked for a tug back on Boga, as he broke through centrally. Archer saved Boga’s free kick well, though, as the half-time whistle was blown.
Swift, who struggled a little, was replaced by Feruz, signed for a six-figure fee from Celtic in 2011; this prompted a reshuffle. Feruz went to the left, with Boga stepping inside, and Baker dropping back to partner Loftus-Cheek deeper in midfield.
Chelsea started the half with a bit of urgency, and Fredericks had to turn on the burners to clear a loose ball, before Ball made another calm challenge on Brown and carried the ball forward. As he rode a tackle, he went to ground fairly dramatically (in trying to avoid getting hurt) and was told to get up by the referee.
Gallifuoco committed a foul in midfield to break up another attack, leading to Brown’s ambitious effort from 35 yards being easily blocked.
Kane fed Carroll, whose arrowed shot took a slight deflection, making it easier for the goalkeeper to save.
Bentaleb cleared another Boga corner at the near post, before Spurs had an opportunity to break when Carroll found Bentleb, but he got the weight of his pass to Coulthirst wrong and the chance was lost.
Spurs made in 4-2 when Chelsea failed to clear, and Gallifuoco found Kane with an excellent pass. He hit the inside of the post with his measured effort, but Coulthirst was on hand to bury the rebound.
Feruz had the ball in the net for Chelsea soon after, latching on to Baker’s pass, but the flag went up.
Carroll uncharacteristically gave the ball away, but made up for it by cutting off an angle, taking a firm ball right into his stomach.
Substitutions then led to the game becoming patchy – Lameiras replaced Stewart, with Gallifuoco dropping to centre-back, whilst Chelsea brought on Ssewankambo for the injured Wright, with Aké switching to left back.
Alex McQueen picked up a knock and was replaced by Grant Ward and, shortly afterwards, Darren McQueen took the place of Coulthirst on the left.
Spurs took their foot off the gas a little as the game petered out, but Bentaleb nearly got on the score sheet when his weaving run ended with a forceful left-foot drive which went over the angle of post and bar. Bentaleb then made a frustrated challenge and picked up a yellow card at the other end.
Lameiras started having an impact, skipping through a couple of challenges before slipping a pass wide, before Kane curled in a sweetly-struck effort on goal which Beeney saved.
Lameiras played wide to Falque, who played into Fredericks – his cross was awkward for Falque, who tried to crane his neck and angle a header towards goal. Instead it dropped just beyond Kane, who made an acrobatic attempt to meet it but couldn’t quite reach the dropping ball.
There was then a nice piece of link play between Ward, Kane and Carroll, leading to Carroll’s cross being blocked out for a corner. Lameiras and Carroll worked the corner back to Ward, whose deep cross was met by Gallifuoco, but he couldn’t beat Beeney with his back-post header.
Carroll was booked, possibly for an accumulation of minor fouls, before Aké burst forward from left back, fed Brown and this time the 16-year old, signed from West Brom, finished well – low through Archer’s legs – to make it 4-2.
Nabil Bentaleb received a second yellow for a lunging challenge – whilst he did get the ball, it was deemed dangerous. There were some afters with Brown who was not best pleased with the challenge, and it was left up to Kane to coax Bentaleb away and off the pitch.
With Spurs down to ten men, Carroll started to organise. He was quite vocal during this period, and was keeping the ball brilliantly under pressure; as a result, it was Spurs who dominated the final few minutes and created chances.
First, Lameiras’ low, hard cross was cleared. Then Darren McQueen played in the overlapping Ward, who admirably went for goal with his weaker left foot but had his effort cleared.
Falque played in Fredericks, but his deep cross to McQueen found the forward just offside. Falque was then caught offside himself as he looked to latch on to Kane’s delightful slide-rule pass through the middle.
McQueen’s burst of pace through the middle got him on the end of Kane’s clever pass, and took him away from his man, but Beeney did well to save his effort.
There was time for one last long-range, ambitious Kane effort, before the final whistle went.
Jordan Archer 7 – largely untested, but did what he needed to do.
Ryan Fredericks 7 – competent in all areas of his game, and a good outlet.
Dominic Ball 9 – won everything in the air against Brown, timed his tackles and interceptions brilliantly, and was the one constantly carrying the ball out of defence. Top class performance, it’s great to see him developing so well.
Kevin Stewart 7 – a calming presence, as ever.
Alex McQueen 7 – was a useful outlet and, given that he was playing on his wrong side, he didn’t get caught out too often.
Nabil Bentaleb 6 – mostly pretty competent and controlled, but he seems to play better in a slightly deeper role, where there’s less pressure on the ball.
Giancarlo Gallifuoco 6 – some good defensive screening, but generally lacking when in possession, aside from a good pass for the fourth goal.
Tom Carroll 9 – top class attitude and loads of ability – I love the way he plays the game. Showed good leadership qualities after the sending off.
Yago Falque 8 – took his goals really well, and could have had a couple more. A constant threat, and linked well with Fredericks.
Harry Kane 9 – pretty much faultless – good hold-up and link play, some very intelligent through balls, and scored with a great finish. He also nearly scored another with a similar strike which led to the fourth goal. Ideally he’d be playing as a number 10 rather than leading the line, but he played the role really well.
Shaq Coulthirst 6 – worked hard, but didn’t often get round his man. Got a poacher’s goal when following up.
Ruben Lameiras – made an impact and showed good ability to drive forward.
Grant Ward – very competent, and got forward well.
Darren McQueen – lively, could have scored a couple, and could be a useful super-sub throughout the season.
Overall it was a very impressive display from Spurs against an admittedly younger side. Interestingly, we managed this without regular players in Ceballos, Fryers, Veljkovic, Dombaxe and McEvoy, without forward options in Coulibaly and Lancaster, and without the likes of Obika and Dawkins (both expected to leave, either permanently or on loan). Of course we will also had to make do without the loanees (Smith, Hall, Luongo, Mason and Pritchard).