20/02/16 Tottenham Hotspur U18s 4-0 Arsenal U18s, Hotspur Way
Alfie Whiteman (17)
Shilow Tracey (17) Christian Maghoma (18) (c) Japhet Tanganga (17) Jaden Brown (17)
Charlie Owens (18) Zenon Stylianides (18)
Marcus Edwards (17) Dylan Duncan (17) Sam Shashoua (16)
Kazaiah Sterling (17)
Keanan Bennetts (16) for Shashoua, 78.
Ryan Loft (17) for Sterling, 78.
George Marsh (17) for Stylianides, 84.
Sub not used:
Brandon Austin (17)
Aremide Oteh (17)
Jack Roles (16)
Some pictures of the warm-up…#THFC #COYS pic.twitter.com/kyA6P8wY3h
— Chris Miller (@WindyCOYS) February 20, 2016
When I saw last night that rain was forecast for the whole of this match, I had second thoughts — did I want to make a 70-mile round trip to be stood in the rain for two hours? Thankfully another look this morning gave a more optimistic outlook, and I turned up for what was a phenomenal performance from Spurs’ youngsters. I was joined by Dan Kilpatrick of the Tottenham Way podcast, as podcasts collided! Listen out for Dan on my youth update for The Fighting Cock this week.
The team was a strong one, and the only surprise was that Shilow Tracey — an attacking midfielder who recently signed from Ebbsfleet United — was playing at right-back. I am not sure whether Joe Muscatt (who has played at right-back recently) was injured, but he was not included amongst the substitutes.
Arsenal made a fast start to the match, imposing themselves physically on a smaller Spurs side, and forcing a succession of early corners, the first coming when Jordi Osei-Tutu ran past Sam Shashoua and forced Jaden Brown to come across to see it out. Arsenal immediately won a corner on the opposite side, which Christian Maghoma headed clear.
Tall Arsenal midfielder Ben Sheaf got into a good area in the left corner of the box and it was Stylianides this time who saw him out. Japhet Tanganga rose to clear the subsequent corner, before Arsenal put together a spell of possession on the edge of the box, but had too many touches, and eventually forced themselves to go back to Sheaf, who had his shot saved by Alfie Whiteman.
Captain Maghoma was organising makeshift right-back Tracey well, calling him across when he was too wide.
Arsenal’s Donyell Malen got one-on-one with Brown, but slashed at the ball and put his shot well wide.
Kaylen Hinds’ shot from the edge of the box took a deflection and the corner, taken by the tall midfielder Josh Da Silva, was headed behind for another by Brown. The next one was taken by Sheaf, and a challenge by Kazaiah Sterling was required on the edge of the box to stop a free header.
Shilow Tracey then made a terrific challenge to stop the rampaging Sheaf again, and the resultant Arsenal corner came to nothing as it was looped in too deep.
Tanganga made a crucial intervention at the near post, before Spurs got out of their own half. Sterling went on a fantastic mazy run and got his head up to find Sam Shashoua. Osei-Tutut forced Shashoua back and the move petered out, but it was a sign that Spurs could do damage on the break.
John McDermott tends to stand slightly away from the dug-out — presumably to allow Under-18 Head Coach Kieran McKenna to have the match-day authority — and McDermott was joined today by Nigel Gibbs (Assistant Head of Coach & Player Development), who was pretty vocal throughout. At this point in the match McDermott called for more aggression from our team.
Spurs began to get a foothold in the game, and Shashoua had a good strike from the edge of the box after some nice hold-up play from Dylan Duncan. Charlie Owens played a good pass to Marcus Edwards, who went back to Zenon Stylianides, but the midfielder passed the ball straight out of play. Stylianides was then caught in possession after good work from Duncan.
Sterling chased down the keeper and went to ground to block his kick, but the ball rebounded to safety.
Arsenal put together a slick piece of play to get Hinds in behind, but Jaden Brown had tracked him from across the penalty box and did a great job of shepherding him out.
Edwards over hit a pass as Spurs worked the ball into a good area, and then the same player showed lovely quick feet but played a through-ball that was just too heavy for Sterling.
Edwards then nipped in to intercept as Sheaf slipped, and he carried the ball forward and curled in a right-footed shot which was deflected just wide for a corner.
At the other end, Tanganga made a terrific headed clearance from an Arsenal corner, and Owens got a ticking off from the referee having taken down France Under-17 player, Yassin Fortune.
Spurs put together another nice piece of play when Tracey found Shashoua who found Stylianides, but again Stylianides was guilty of a poor pass.
Whiteman made a good two-handed save to keep the busy Hinds’ effort out, and Spurs went up the other end to win a corner; Edwards found Sterling and, though his pass was scuffed, Brown showed good tenacity to go up the line and force the set piece.
A couple of poor passes from Owens (an under-hit square ball) and Tracey (an easily blocked attempted cross-field) drew slight groans from the crowd. Sheaf had another effort on goal which went over, and Fortune had a good chance when he got down the line beyond Tracey but missed the target when aiming for the near post.
As the first half came to a close, Stylianides scooped a ball forward, and Sterling won a free-kick, but Edwards’ kick was dealt with, albeit at the expense of an injury to goalkeeper Ryan Huddart, which kept him down for a minute or so.
Spurs started the second half on the front foot; Tanganga played a terrific diagonal to Edwards, but it unfortunately ran through his legs.
Sterling’s rising shot from the edge of the box was saved but Spurs made the breakthrough when Edwards gave Sterling the ball one-on-one with his man. He shot across goal from a tight angle, and when Huddart could only palm it out, the industrious Sam Shashoua was there to tap in.
Tanganga made a brilliant run forward and was brought down by Sheaf, who was given a few stern words by the referee.
Edwards received the ball wide on the right, surrounded by three Arsenal players, and all they could think to repeatedly say was ‘no foul’, so concerned they were about Edwards’ quick feet.
Owens showed a lovely bit of poise in the middle of midfield to turn away from two Arsenal players and ping a pass out to Edwards, but it was a tiny bit too long for him and he was unable to take advantage.
Tracey showed his defensive skills once again, standing up well to his man on the byline.
Hinds was taken off for Arsenal (replaced by Romanian Under-16 captain, Vlad Dragomir) and he passed the captain’s armband to Sheaf.
Malen had Arsenal’s first effort on goal of the second half when he blazed over, before Spurs won a free-kick in a great position. Edwards found Sterling, who slid Shashoua in with a clever pass with the outside of his right foot — Shashoua was pulled back right on the edge of the box. As Edwards stepped up, John McDermott called for him to keep it low. Edwards’ free-kick hit the wall, wrong-footed Huddart and found the bottom right corner for 2-0.
Maghoma’s excellent slide-rule pass found Shashoua but his first touch was too heavy and the ball got away from him.
Sterling had a good chance to make it three when he isolated and then beat his man, but he lost his balance at the vital moment and went to ground.
Maghoma burst forward onto a Dylan Duncan pass but hit the side netting, and Malen steered a chance wide for Arsenal from substitute Aaron Eyoma’s cross.
Spurs were 3-0 up just a few seconds later, and what a good goal it was. Sterling showed a lovely touch to make a yard of space in midfield. He slid Edwards in on the right side and, as ever, he cut in onto his favoured left foot. Edwards curled a delicious low finish into the corner, Huddart unable to keep it out despite getting his fingertips to it.
Ryan Loft and Keanan Bennetts replaced Sterling and Shashoua, and Spurs carried on as they had been all half, as Edwards got in — this time from a Dylan Duncan pass — and whilst he successfully cut in to create space again, his near-post effort went narrowly wide on this occasion.
Edwards played Loft in to fire over the bar, and Spurs made their final change – George Marsh replacing Stylianides. I believe Marsh has been injured, and it was good to see him back – a player I like.
Spurs wrapped up the win with a stylish fourth — Duncan playing Loft in with a pass which pierced the Arsenal defence, and Loft finished calmly.
This was a really enjoyable performance from Spurs — weathering the storm in the first half, before growing into the game and dominating in the second half. Having not seen so many games this year, I presume this was the best of the season for this group. It was the final game of the first stage of the Barclays Under-18 Premier League campaign, and we finished in eighth place.
#BU18PL | Almost there in the regional programme; the South section has been finalised, one game left in the North.. pic.twitter.com/UryT8B71HW
— youthhawk (@youthhawk) February 20, 2016
Having gained a place in the second tier for the next stage, we will play Aston Villa, Leicester City and Arsenal from the south division, along with Wolverhampton Wanderers, West Bromwich Albion, Middlesbrough, and either Blackburn Rovers or Sunderland from the north division, depending on results.
Alfie Whiteman 7 – he made two decent saves, and read the game well on occasion too. His distribution was a bit unpredictable.
Shilow Tracey 7 – did an excellent job defensively, using his physical prowess (strength and speed) to get the better of his man on several occasions. I was surprised he didn’t bomb on too often, but that was probably the right decision as it was his first game at right-back
Christian Maghoma 8 – a really dominant performance from the captain. Strong in the tackle, showed leadership by talking Tracey through the game, and used the ball intelligently, bursting forward a few times.
Japhet Tanganga 8 – terrific display from an exciting young talent — read the game brilliantly and made some good clearing headers. His run forward in the second half was — as Dan said during the game — Jan-esque.
Jaden Brown 7 – a polished performance at left-back.
Charlie Owens 7 – struggled a little early on, but grew into the game well and played some nice passes.
Zenon Stylianides 5 – worked hard throughout but unfortunately did give the ball away quite a lot.
Marcus Edwards 9 – a terrific performance in which he show-cased all of the skill that we’ve come to know him for – brilliant dribbling, dynamic passing and movement, and a top quality finish to boot. I was delighted to see him track back to right-back in the last minute too.
Dylan Duncan 7 – hard-working display and got a good assist at the end.
Sam Shashoua 6 – worked hard but did at times struggle against a more physical opponent. Did well to follow in to open the scoring.
Kazaiah Sterling 8 – some lovely link-up play with Edwards, and showed plenty of ability with his mazy runs too. The only thing missing was a goal.
Keanan Bennetts – didn’t see much of the ball but made good counter-attacking runs.
Ryan Loft – took his goal terrifically.
George Marsh – did not have time to make an impact, but good to see him back.
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