11/01/16 Tottenham Hotspur U21s 4-5 Chelsea U21s, Lamex Stadium
Tom Glover (18)
Luke Amos (18) Cameron Carter-Vickers (18) Milos Veljkovic (20) (c) Anthony Georgiou (18)
Filip Lesniak (19) Harry Winks (19)
Andros Townsend (24) Anton Walkes (18) Will Miller (19)
Shaq Coulthirst (21)
Emmanuel Sonupe for Lesniak, 57.
Joe Pritchard for Walkes, 73.
Cy Goddard for Miller, 82.
Sub not used:
Chelsea: Collins, Dabo, Tomori, Clarke-Salter, Dasilva, Colkett (c), Mitchell, Ali (Kiwomya 45), Abraham, Palmer, Musonda
With Kyle Walker-Peters on trial at Roda JC ahead of a probable loan move, and Connor Ogilvie on loan at Stevenage, Spurs lined up without a natural full-back. Defensive midfielder Luke Amos filled in on the right, and winger Anthony Georgiou started on the left.
With Shayon Harrison missing through injury, Nathan Oduwa, Dominic Ball, Grant Ward, Ogilvie and Walker-Peters on loan, and Josh Onomah recently promoted to the first team, Spurs lacked some of their best talent but still had smatterings of quality throughout the side.
The game began in an open, flowing style with both teams playing balls in behind for their wingers to chase; Chelsea’s winger won a corner off the retreating Georgiou which was easily cleared at the near post.
Charlie Musonda gave Luke Amos a scare when he beat him on the outside and put in a low cross, but Cameron Carter-Vickers was there to clear for a corner (which was overhit).
Georgiou on the other side stuck to his task well to dispossess Mitchell and set up a spell of Spurs possession, led by Winks and ending when Veljkovic’s angled long pass went straight out for a throw-in.
Winks was showing a willingness to take the ball under pressure in central midfield and with Veljkovic happy to step into midfield and switch play, Spurs were looking more than competent in possession, although Chelsea were keeping them at arm’s length.
A long ball from Carter-Vickers was nearly brought down in a great position by Will Miller, but it just got away from him and, although he did well to play the ball off his man for a corner, a goal-kick was awarded.
Luke Amos did well to win a free-kick through beating his man on the outside and being tripped, but Andros Townsend’s set-piece sailed out for a goal-kick. We’ll blame the wind for that one.
A poor pass from Lesniak trickled through a Chelsea man to find Townsend, but as he was dispossessed he looked to the referee, with no free-kick being awarded – he had a case that time.
Georgiou was guilty of a cynical foul out on the left, as Mitchell burst beyond him and Georgiou knocked him off the pitch with a lunge which fortunately went unpunished. Glover claimed the angled free-kick with ease.
Coulthirst made a good run in behind to get on the end of an excellent Veljkovic long-ball and, when he was fouled, Townsend swung in a fantastic right-footed (I really like that he can use both feet) free-kick which Carter-Vickers somehow missed.
Coulthirst then burst through the middle and his battle with Tomori ended in the Chelsea centre-back’s favour, as he made a strong challenge to force Shaq wide.
On 18 minutes it was 0-1 through Tammy Abraham. Tom Glover played a poor pass out from the back, Mitchell pounced on it on the right with Georgiou upfield; he ran forward and put it on a plate for Abraham to tap in.
It took just two minutes for Spurs to equalise. Winks found Miller with a really nice forward pass, Walkes held the ball and played it back for Georgiou. His first-time cross found Coulthirst, who had an awful lot to do, but he guided a looping header over Collins and into the corner.
Veljkovic made a terrific clearing header in his six-yard box, but from the resulting corner Tomori got on the end of a ball helped back in by Clarke-Salter and he headed home – he’d got between Georgiou and Carter-Vickers in doing so. Spurs are very poor at defending set pieces at this level.
Spurs put together a neat move on 24 minutes, with Walkes passing to Miller and the little attacking midfielder finding Georgiou, but he ran into a blind alley and the momentum was lost. From the resulting throw-in, though, Winks went on a driving run and was brought down right on the edge of the box. Townsend stepped up and nearly found the bottom corner of the net with the wall jumping in tandem.
Abraham got on the end of a Palmer pass and went down under pressure from Carter-Vickers – the referee somewhat generously waved play on as the ball ran away from the forward. I felt that our centre-back had clipped him – perhaps there wasn’t enough contact to justify a spot-kick being awarded.
At the other end, Townsend played in Coulthirst, but he tried to turn and shoot from a difficult angle when some composure was required. Townsend then whipped in a fantastic ball which Miller got on the end of, but it was blocked for a corner. Townsend’s corner was punched clear by Collins before Spurs made more headway through Winks and Miller linking nicely, but Townsend lost it on the right.
There was another terrific clearance again from Veljkovic with Palmer arriving behind him ready to finish a ball from wide, as the game became a little more open.
Winks made inroads don the left and fed Georgiou to cross, but it was a bit behind Coulthirst as he looked to turn. It went all the way through to Townsend though, and he took on two men, beating both and earning a free-kick from Musonda.
He took it himself — short to Amos — who returned it and, after eventually getting a cross in, it came to nothing.
Veljkovic gave the ball away cheaply in the Chelsea half but retreated and intercepted a poor pass form Musonda to win it back.
Coulthirst drove an effort well wide from another good Winks pass, before the forward then dropped off his man to control a Winks pass and find Townsend. His dangerous cross was cleared to Winks but his shot was blocked.
Townsend made another burst down the right and his cross was a good one which Coulthirst perhaps could have done better with – he was caught on his heels a little.
Chelsea won a free-kick just on the stroke of half-time. Colkett whipped it in left-footed and Carter-Vickers met it with a strong header.
The teams went in level at half-time – it was generally a good half from Spurs, who were the better team in open play. Glover made a bad error and then the team let themselves down defending a set piece (again).
The second half began with Kiwomya (nephew of Chris) replacing Ali for Chelsea. He played on the right with Mitchell switching to the left.
Cameron Carter-Vickers made a thundering challenge on Musonda early in he half as the Chelsea man looked to run in behind, before Spurs got into their stride again, Winks heavily involved as he was in the first half.
Chelsea made it 3-1 through a calm finish from Palmer. Abraham rolled Veljkovic too easily from a throw-in, and Carter-Vickers gave Palmer too much space to finish from his cross.
Abraham had another chance when Mitchell got in behind (with three Spurs players left appealing for a free-kick) and his volley at an awkward height was wayward.
Spurs were struggling to get a foothold in the game, but some strong challenges from Winks and then Coulthirst showed that they had not given up just yet.
As the game became a bit more attritional, Ehiogu made his first change, bringing on Emmanuel Sonupe for Lesniak. This saw Winks play at the base of a midfield three (or a 4-1-4-1), flanked by Miller and Walkes.
Twice in quick succession the hard-working but limited Walkes had the ball in good areas on the break but failed to find Coulthirst with through-balls.
Dasilva was defending much better one-on-one agaisnt Townsend in this half, and three times in quick succession he got the better of his man.
Winks lost out to Palmer, who played Abraham through. Glover darted out to pick up the pieces but then tok a touch t get onto his right foot and got a little lucky when toe-poking clear to a teammate.
Townsend whipped in a fantastic right-footed ball after being found by Miller, but Coulthirst, again, couldn’t get on the end of it.
Soon after, Carter-Vickers gave the ball away cheaply, Kiwomya broke down the right but the centre-back threw himself into a challenge and made up for his error. Veljkovic then went to ground in the box to clear the ball.
Townsend got down the right again and played in yet another fine cross but Sonupe got his volley all wrong, possibly put off by Coulthirst’s attempted overhead kick.
Winks showed his quality once more, beating men and carrying the ball forward, but he had few options with Spurs’ final third movement lacking.
Winks then had the ball in midfield and frustratedly raised his hands, asking for movement. At that moment, Veljkovic stepped into midfield and received the ball from Winks. He took his time and played a clever slide-rule pass through to Coulthirst who clipped the ball over the keeper to make it 2-3. A great pass and clever finish.
On 73 minutes Walkes was replaced by Joe Pritchard as Spurs stepped up the pressure.
Abraham got between Georgiou and Veljkovic, brought a ball down and smashed it straight at Glover. Spurs went up the other end and Sonupe played a lovely cross towards Pritchard – it drifted agonisingly beyond him.
Pritchard pinged a lovely ball through to Sonupe who cut inside his man and smashed a wonderful low drive goal-wards. Collins did well to keep it out and Townsend’s corner was cleared well by Abraham.
Sonupe did well to beat Dabo but Collins was equal to his shot again – Sonupe had made a difference though.
Georgiou was booked for tugging back Kiwomya as the Chelsea winger got the better of him on the left – Georgiou being caught up-field as Spurs pressed or a goal.
Colkett’s shot went over as Carter-Vickers and Pritchard battled to stop him scoring.
Winks then played a lovely pass out to Sonupe who ran at Dabo and went down under pressure, but this time Dabo had defended him well.
It was 2-4 when left-back Jay Dasilva scored the goal of the night. He cut in on his weaker right foot as Pritchard committed himself, and curled a wonderful shot over Glover.
Goddard replaced the tiring Will Miller on 82 minutes.
Carter-Vickers got caught on the ball by Abraham, but managed to recover and pushed him wide.
On 85 minutes Cy Goddard had an almost instant impact as he won a penalty with quick feet to beat Tomori in the box. Andros Townsend found the corner with his kick.
Glover took a chance dribbling past Abraham deep in his box but got away with it.
Spurs equalised when Coulthirst got the ball wide early to Townsend, who went on the outside of Dasilva and drove firm, right-footed shot under Collins – a great goal from Townsend, who was carrying the fight.
Veljkovic did really well to make a solid challenge as Musonda strode through to try to nick it in the 92nd minute. Spurs went up the other end through Townsend and Pritchard had the ball nicked away as he went to strike. The action went straight down the other end again and Glover stood firm to stop Abraham, getting a strong left-hand to a fierce effort.
Chelsea took the lead again when a free-kick was floated into the box. Abraham held off Veljkovic, Carter-Vickers didn’t get close enough to Clarke-Salter, and he finished brilliantly across Glover.
It was a breath-taking match to watch and a gruelling match for both teams, with some naive midfield play leaving both defences exposed. Winks and Townsend both had fantastic matches for Spurs, with the talented centre-back pairing struggling against Chelsea’s excellent forward, Tammy Abraham. Of course, the centre-backs were not helped by having a make-shift full-back either side of them and the holding midfielder being withdrawn as Spurs looked for goals.
The win moved Chelsea up to 7th on 14 points and Spurs stayed 3rd on 18 points, one point off second.
Glover 4 – Young Aussie Tom is having a bit of a rough patch at the moment, occasionally inviting pressure onto himself by taking unnecessary risks in trying to play out from the back. His left-handed save at the end was him at his best, though, and he’ll come back stronger from this performance.
Amos 5 – Luke is very much filling in at right-back, and I am getting increasingly concerned about him playing out of position week in, week out. A talented central midfielder, it’s time he got a run of games there.
Carter-Vickers 5 – this was not a good game for the strong centre-back, who struggled with Abraham throughout and found himself giving players too much space in the box. He was constantly having to react to his own mistakes tonight.
Veljkovic 5 – not his best match and, sadly, possibly his last. However, he played a lovely pass through to Coulthirst for the second goal, and looked good pretty much every time he stepped into midfield – perhaps he should be starting in his alternative position of defensive midfield instead.
Georgiou 5 – did an adequate job of filling in, and provided some attacking impetus. Got caught out a few times – that was inevitable as it is not his normal position. The booking he did get could easily have been his second – he was lucky to get away with a cynical foul early on.
Lesniak 6 – didn’t stand out, but we missed him defensively once he came off. He keeps things simple and takes up useful positions, without ever excelling.
Winks 9 – an excellent performance in which his decision-making, close control and temperament stood out. Can be relied upon to do the right thing nine times out of ten.
Andros Townsend 9 – a constant threat, he whipped in some fantastic crosses and could have had three assists for Coulthirst alone. Took his two goals well, particularly the second.
Walkes 4 – a bit of a struggle for the ever-willing Walkes. I just cannot see the logic of him playing as a ten – he’d be better off covering full-back right now.
Miller 6 – started off really positively and helped to set the tempo. Faded a little and needs more games to build up his match fitnes.
Coulthirst 7 – gets a seven for his two excellent finishes, but really he should have scored more, and he still struggles to create a platform. He has been training with Fleetwood Town, presumably ahead of a permanent move.
Sonupe – nice, positive impact for the wide man.
Pritchard – it’s lovely to see him back, having recovered from a broken leg. Added some attacking thrust but did commit himself for Dasilva’s goal.
Goddard – instant impact in winning the penalty. For me, he’d be starting as a ten in place of Walkes. May not cope physically, but we won’t know until he’s tried.
In closing, I feel that Ugo Ehiogu’s not helping us with a pairing of Walkes and Coulthirt at the sharp end. Both are hard-working players with tenacity, but both lack finesse and ability. In addition, Luke Amos — a talented pivot player — is being held back by filling in at full-back. There will be a clear-out at the end of this season that will see a number of these players leaving. With this in mind, I expect a few of the better Under-18 players to be given games before the season is out (the likes of Bennetts, Sterling, Edwards and perhaps even Shashoua).