15/02/14 Tottenham Hotspur U18s 3-0 Leicester City U18s, Hotspur Way
Harry Voss (17)
Kane Vincent-Young (17) Cameron Carter-Vickers (16) Connor Ogilvie (18) Joe Pritchard (17)
Harry Winks (c) (18) Filip Lesniak (17) Will Miller (17)
Emmanuel Sonupe (17) Daniel Akindayini (18) Nathan Oduwa (17)
Anthony Georgiou (16) for Emmanuel Sonupe, 71.
Lloyd Ross (17) for Will Miller, 75.
Anton Walkes (17) Harry Winks, 75.
Liam Priestley (18)
Spurs were not far off full-strength for this match against the team second from bottom in the South group of the Barclays Under-18 Premier League. We were missing Joshua Onomah, Kyle Walker-Peters, Luke McGee and Christian Maghoma from the first choice XI. Lesniak played as the deepest midfield player, with Winks and Miller given more license to push forward – much like the formation that the first team played against Newcastle.
Leicester lined up in a 4-2-3-1, with the very tall Elliott Moore in the middle of midfield, and wingers Kyle Bailey and Andre Olukanmi supporting lanky forward, Simone Stankevicius. Danny Rowe, who scored the opener in the reverse fixture, schemed behind the striker.
The conditions for this match were exceptionally difficult – the wind was strong throughout, with occasional bursts of driving rain. The pitch was in good condition considering the amount of rainfall, and remained as such for the whole game.
The match started in what might have been a frenetic fashion, were it not for the regular whistle blows from the referee. Both teams were keen to establish themselves, but it was stop-start from the off due to some overzealous officiating.
John McDermott shouted ‘higher’ from the stands early on, presumably urging his defence to push forward and for the midfield to follow suit by pressing further up the pitch – a key tactic implemented by Spurs at this level.
The first action of note saw Ogilvie carry the ball forward and find Winks with a crisp pass. He played first time to Miller, but Akindayini got in Miller’s way and the momentum was lost.
Both teams were guilty of giving the ball away in the opening few minutes as they sized one another up. Spurs did manage to finally get the ball out wide to Sonupe in space, but his cross was over hit and cleared. The first shot of the game came from Harry Winks, but it was a somewhat tame effort from the edge of the box.
The referee spoke to Moore after a poor challenge on Lesniak in the middle of midfield. Leicester launched an attack down their left, but Carter-Vickers read the danger and beat Olukanmi to the ball. Not only that, but the strong centre-back held the winger off with ease, and played out from the back – immediately making himself available to receive the ball back in space. A little cameo showing what Carter-Vickers is all about.
Winks played a lovely ball into Sonupe but left-back Ben Chilwell did excellently and Sonupe couldn’t get round him. It was notable though, that Spurs’ high energy pressing – led by Akindayini from the front – was forcing Leicester to rush their passing and surrender possession.
An Ogilvie clearance was blocked and looped up – it seemed to land perfectly into the path of Bailey, but his touch was heavy and the chance was lost. Then Elliott Moore was late on Lesniak again, and the referee showed him a yellow card this time.
Nathan Oduwa ghosted past Dylan Casey at right-back, before cutting a cross back to Akindayini; he was unable to turn on it in a crowded area, though, and after he passed back out the opportunity was gone.
Oduwa picked the ball up on the left again, and this time ran across the edge of the box. He back-heeled perfectly into the path of Winks, whose sweetly struck effort was blocked by a defender.
Some good link-up between Kane Vincent-Young and Emmanuel Sonupe saw Sonupe win a corner which Winks took. Ogilvie came off his man at the near post and met the kick with a right-footed effort which the goalkeeper saved relatively comfortably on the line.
Akindayini managed to bring a ball down, turn, and get down the right, but his drilled cut-back wasn’t quite precise enough and was hacked clear.
Having struggled to make inroads at all, Leicester hit the woodwork twice in quick succession. First, Bailey ran clear on the counter and picked out a perfect cross which Stankevicius cushioned first time onto the post. Then, a free-kick form Chilwell was caught by the wind and changed direction almost at a right angle. Voss was back-pedalling but fortunately the ball came back off the bar.
The referee failed to show a yellow card for Sonupe when he ran the ball out for a throw and showed his frustration by booting it back towards his own goal.
A weak Voss kick caused us problems, but Lesniak dropped into centre-back and nicked the ball, shepherding it away from danger and playing out from the back.
Miller then got Sonupe in down the right but he couldn’t beat Moore, who tracked back responsibly and showed good strength.
Vincent-Young was penalised for a foul throw, which the referee followed up by offering advice on how to throw the ball.
Sonupe won another corner (taken by Winks) which Ogilvie attacked again at the near post; this time his header was just over the angle.
At the other end, Carter-Vickers’ excellent positioning resulted in a vital interception after an industrious run from Rowe.
Winks showed quick feet to beat a man in deep midfield which drew some cheers, before Sonupe nutmegged Chilwell on the right.
Spurs took the lead on 40 minutes after Oduwa and Sonupe had switched wings. Sonupe had struggled to beat Chilwell, and Oduwa was quite lucky to do so too – initially it seemed like Chilwell had done well to stop his mazy run, but the ball squirmed past the defender and the ever-tricky Oduwa did really well to pick out Akindayini to slot home.
There was a little more action before half-time – first, Oduwa took on three men on the right and won a corner. This time Ogilvie made a dart to the back-post, with Carter-Vickers coming to the near, but he fouled his man as Winks’ kick came in. Then, at the other end, Voss palmed a Leicester corner away before Carter-Vickers blocked a firmly struck shot from Bailey and then also cleared the resultant corner kick.
The second half started well for Spurs. Inside a minute, Bailey sold midfielder Matt Miles short with a pass – Oduwa nipped in and charged forward. He waited until the perfect moment before finding Akindayini who had the simple task of tapping home for 2-0.
Spurs slowed the game down a bit and took control, playing some nice football. Winks found Sonupe, who flicked on first time for Vincent-Young. His persistence got him into a crossing position, but his cross-cum-shot flew wide – it was always moving away from goal.
Stankevicius was put through on the hour, but his shot went well over the bar and, shortly afterwards, Ogilvie made a solid block from Rowe’s effort. The ball looped up, and Voss fumbled it, but Spurs managed to clear the loose ball.
Miller had a fairly quiet first half, but was far more lively in the second. He was playing some nice pass and move football, and a move that he instigated resulted in his own shot being dragged just wide from the edge of the box. Miller then played a delightful pass in behind for Sonupe but Akindayini mis-controlled his cut back and a defender came across and saw him off.
Akindayini had the first of four opportunities to complete his hat-trick when Miller – at the heart of everything now – slipped him in, but he weakly hit his shot straight at the goalkeeper, Sharpe.
Winks was booked for a foul on halfway, before Leicester City brought on Chris Dusabe for Stankevicius.
Ogilvie’s shot after a fine run caught the wind and gave Sharpe a few issues, before Spurs made their own change – with Georgiou coming on for Sonupe, and Oduwa switching over to the left.
Miller couldn’t quite angle Oduwa’s cross goalwards, before both he and Winks came off to be replaced by Anton Walkes and Lloyd Ross.
Spurs sealed the win when Georgiou slid a pass into the advancing Ogilvie, he cut back onto his weaker right foot, and found the bottom corner with a neat finish.
Ogilvie launched yet another charge forward from the back, and was fouled outside the box. Oduwa stepped up, but the wind caught his effort and it zipped over the angle.
Leicester won a soft penalty when Vincent-Young pulled Olukanmi back right on the edge of the box, but Voss went the right way, and his strong hand saved the spot kick. Spurs immediately countered and Lloyd Ross picked out Akindayini, only for the striker to hit the post.
Georgiou and Akindayini linked up well, but Georgiou’s right-footed effort was straight at the goalkeeper.
Another fine pass from Lloyd Ross found Akindayini again but, as he looked to seal his hat-trick, he scuffed his shot horribly wide.
The match ball clearly wasn’t meant to go home with him today – when the goalkeeper kicked the ball weakly straight to him, he seemed sure to finally grab a third. However, his second touch saw the ball bounce up off his knee, and straight back to the grateful Sharpe.
Harry Voss 7 – a cracking penalty save and a couple of pro-active punches from corners were positives; his kicking was the negative.
Kane Vincent-Young 6 – let himself down by giving away a penalty on a day when he was otherwise pretty solid.
Cameron Carter-Vickers 8 – every time I watch this colossus of a player, I’m more and more excited. Not only does he swat strikers off the ball with ease, but he constantly pushes up into midfield to get involved. So impressive.
Connor Ogilvie 9 – the biggest compliment I can give to Ogilvie is that I don’t think this level is appropriate for him anymore. He is dominant defensively, but his *constant* charges forward mean that he’s a genuine attacking weapon too – from left or centre back. Took his goal well to boot, hence I make him my man of the match.
Joe Pritchard 5 – was ‘filling in’ at left back, it’s clearly not a position he’s too comfortable in.
Harry Winks 7 – buzzed around with intent, particularly in the first half. Plays mostly one and two touch football, and has a real maturity to his game. His set pieces were good today.
Filip Lesniak 7 – gave the ball away so seldom that I actually noted the one time I noticed him doing so, early in the second half. I like the way that he takes responsibility and drops into the back line when one of the centre-backs goes forward (as they do frequently)
Will Miller 7 – had a fairly quiet first half, but in the second half he was top class, very creative.
Emmanuel Sonupe 6 – not his best game, mostly due to being up against a decent full-back in Chilwell and not having his partner in crime, Walker-Peters, behind him.
Daniel Akindayini 7 – scored two, missed another four. Worked hard, but does lack quality with his back to goal.
Nathan Oduwa 7 – two assists and could have had more. Like Ogilvie, he now needs Under-21 football or a loan to test him, as this level can sometimes look too easy for him.
Anthony Georgiou – got the assist for Ogilvie’s goal and was a good outlet with his pace.
Lloyd Ross – played some very intelligent passes.
Anton Walkes – lots of positive runs forward without the ball, but lacked a bit of patience in possession.
This week Will Miller, Nathan Oduwa, Emmanuel Sonupe and Harry Winks will be linking up with the England Under-18s, while Josh Onomah is in the Under-17 squad. I’m very surprised that the superb Connor Ogilvie is not in the squad, as well as right-back Kyle Walker-Peters.
As a slight aside, it was announced in the week that the Under-21 league will be restructured, and made into an Under-23 league. This decision has been made in order to bridge the gap between Academies and first teams, and is a positive move in my opinion.
For me, too many clubs don’t take the Under-21 league too seriously – arguably ourselves included (particularly this year). These changes should result in more experienced professionals being involved, and a higher quality of football being played.
One of the problems I have with the Under-21 league is that there aren’t regular enough matches – players are often looking to impress to get loan moves, but don’t get the opportunities to show what they can do. This is because matches get postponed frequently (often due to poor quality pitches) ending in lots of fixtures played in quick succession once loan windows have closed. Moving the matches to better stadia can only help with this.