19/09/09 Tottenham Hotspur U18s 6-1 Fulham U18s, Spurs Lodge

A small crowd turned up for Spurs U18s’ 5th FA Premier Academy League match of the season against Fulham. Remembering that the mysterious Omar had told us that Fulham’s Academy were “much better” than ours, but also having noted that Fulham had lost three out of their four games so far, I was quietly confident that Spurs would make it three wins in a row.

Presumably the first team were in for a training session, as Clive Allen and Tony Parks were present at the game. Also worth nothing that Bostock was there, crutches and cast now gone – he was doing some sprints on one of the other pitches, and also kicking a ball again.

Inglethorpe made a slight change to the formation for this one, switching from a 4-4-1-1 to a 4-1-4-1, with Harry Kane’s starting position noticeably deeper. Kane again took the armband, and we included three “overage” players in Smith, Butcher and Blackwood.

Butler (17)
Smith (18) Butcher (18) Byrne (17) Francis-Angol (16)
Nicholson (17)
Fredericks (16) Kane © (16) M’Poku (17) McBride (17)
Oyenuga (16)


Durojaiye (16) for Butcher (18), 46.
Waller-Lassen (16) for McBride, 66.
Blackwood (18) for Francis-Angol, 72.

Not used:
Ranieri (17)
Lancaster (16)

The opening was frantic with both sides playing at a high tempo and, therefore, it took a while for things to settle down. Spurs’ first meaningful attack came when “Pablo” (previously Polo!) M’Poku took a quick free-kick, exchanged passes with Francis-Angol, and set Fredericks away on the right. He beat his man and put in a low cross which was easily cut out at the near post.

On 7 minutes, Nicholson set his stall out – Spurs had committed a lot of players forward in an attack and, when the move broke down and Fulham broke forward, it looked as though we might find ourselves in a spot of bother. Nicholson, through good positioning and reading of the game, came across and saw out the danger.

Fulham had the first reasonable chance to score 10 minutes in – Keanu (that was never going to get old…) Marsh-Brown forcing a decent save from Butler. Francis-Angol then committed himself in a dangerous area, his man going round him, before the young full-back showed great responsibility and commitment by getting back and clearing the danger.

With 18 minutes gone, Spurs were having plenty of possession without finding the cutting edge – although a couple of borderline offside decisions didn’t help the cause. Minutes later, Spurs had their best move of the match. Skipper Harry Kane decided to go direct and, from the centre circle, fired a brilliant ball right-footed down the left flank for Oyenuga. Kudus showed a good touch and found space for a cross. Unfortunately McBride was stretching slightly, and couldn’t bring it under control, although a first time finish may have been the better option.

Oyenuga was involved again, this time cutting in and having his shot blocked after a similar long ball from Kane. The ball came back out to Kane, but his shot dribbled wide. Oyenuga was, by this point, really giving Fulham the run around. He received the ball wide on the left, found room for a shot, and his near-post effort rattled the goal frame. Reacting quicker than any of the Fulham players, he charged off after the rebound, stopping it going out for a throw, before laying off a pass to Francis-Angol. Eventually the ball found its way to Nathan Byrne, but his pass was intercepted. Kudos to Oyenuga (groan) for the effort though.

Spurs opened the scoring on 26 minutes – a cross from Fredericks was not dealt with by Fulham’s huge centre backs, and M’Poku intelligently headed the ball down to Kane. With two men behind him, he turned and fired in a low shot, which found the bottom corner. A well-deserved lead.

Virtually immediately after this, Spurs should have made it two. Nicholson turned his man in the middle of midfield, and lofted an excellent pass wide to Fredericks. He beat the full-back again and laid off to M’Poku, who picked out Harry Kane in the box – his initial shot hit Oyenuga, and Fulham tried to clear the ball. It came back to Kane and, as he controlled, the Fulham players appealed for handball. Play continued, and he drew a good save from Bettinelli in the Fulham goal – the ball rebounding out again and, this time, it looked like McBride would score, but his volley hit the bar! A real goalmouth scramble.

Spurs were playing well and dominating against a poor Fulham side, and M’Poku was getting increasingly involved. He showed some brilliant skill in the middle of the pitch, turning his man with ease before striding forward and hitting a firm effort down the keeper’s throat. M’poku and Fredericks than played a lovely one-two which ended with Fredericks intelligently attempting to pick out McBride at the far post. Unfortunately the cross was slightly overhit.

It wasn’t until the 40th minute that Spurs doubled their lead. Adam Smith, ever the willing runner, charged up the right before cutting in and drilling a left-footed shot from 20 yards into the keeper’s bottom left corner. A fine finish, and some breathing room. The next goal came more quickly! Oyenuga had again pulled to the left and, when he received the ball, he managed to cut in and get the ball on to his right foot. This time he went across the keeper, curling the ball into the far corner – a great finish and certainly a well-deserved goal. He celebrated with a dance, before thanking Kane for the assist – “cheers for the ball H!”

The half ended with a slight annoyance – Jake Nicholson went into a 50/50 strongly but, in my opinion, fairly. He won the ball but was deemed to have been showing his studs and the referee booked him.

At half-time, Inglethorpe brought on Olumide Durojaiye for Calum Butcher, as he had in the previous home game against West Ham. Valuable experience for Durojaiye, who is one of the first year group. He will almost certainly have a role to play later in the season when the likes of Smith and Butcher go out on loan.

The start of the half was quite competitive and, one of Fulham’s better players, Christian Marquez, had a decent chance which Butler saved. McBride was cynically brought down on the edge of the box (no yellow shown), and M’Poku’s free quick was firmly struck just wide. Minutes later, we probably should have scored again. A corner was headed down by M’Poku, but a defender cleared off the line, and the rebound was harmlessly put wide.

On 60 minutes Jamie Butler was forced to rush out and make an excellent save with his legs as Fulham broke our offside trap. The game became a little more scrappy, and a few tackles started going in. McBride was hacked down over on the left – a clear yellow card offence from where I was stood – but the referee didn’t even give a free-kick. Kane went down heavily moments later and received fairly lengthy treatment. Minutes later he had another heavy fall which knocked the wind out of his sales.

With 65 minutes gone, Adam Smith went on yet another marauding run, and put in a superb cross, which M’Poku put wide on the half volley. At this point, Jesse Waller-Lassen was brought on for McBride, who had received some rough treatment from the Fulham defenders all game. With one of his first touches, Jesse buried a simple header at the back post after an excellent run and cross from Ryan Fredericks.

Fulham had a couple more chances, one of which fell to Keanu (!), before Spurs made their final change – the impressive Francis-Angol withdrawn, Blackwood coming on at left-back. Fulham did eventually get a goal back – Blackwood didn’t deal with the ball, and eventually it was crossed for one of the subs to head the ball against the bar, having not been picked up by Smith and Durojaiye. The rebound fell to another substitute, who finished past Butler. Smith seemed to be explaining to Durojaiye that it was his man who had headed on to the bar.

It didn’t take long for Spurs to go 5-1 up, with Adam Smith again causing problems. This time he drew a free-kick (and this time the offending player was booked), and Kane’s set piece was palmed out by the keeper to Waller-Lassen, who scored his second. The icing was put on the cake by Fredericks, who deserved a goal for some good wing play throughout. M’Poku slid him in with a well weighted pass and, with the Fulham defender backing away from him, he had plenty of space to plant the ball across the goalkeeper.

There was just time for another great Spurs chance, a perfect set up for Kane after good play from Waller-Lassen on the left flank. He blazed well wide first time, when in reality he had as much time as he wanted.

Butler – my first time seeing him, and he was called upon to make a few stops, none better than the save with his feet. Did everything expected of him, but I didn’t really get to see a range of goalkeeping skills, so it’s hard to really judge him on this performance. 7/10

Smith – looked useful going forward, and clearly needs a full season out on loan now. A few lapses defensively, but it’s a bit of a mish-mash defence at the moment, so I think these moments can probably be forgiven. 7/10

Butcher – marshalled the back four well, winning headers and often taking the safety first approach. Job done for him at half time, and he didn’t re-appear. 7/10

Byrne – the first time I’d seen him play at centre back, and he did a good job. Not the tallest, but he’s fast and quite strong, so has enough of the necessary skills. Reads the game well, and broke forward a couple of times. I don’t think this position is going to be a long-term thing for Nathan, and he may well end up at right-back if Smith goes back out on loan. 7/10

Francis-Angol – looked a different player compared the United game, and he really impressed me. Some good, no-nonsense defending, and looked much more useful going forward. Never likely to carry the ball 50 yards like Smith can, but he got up in support, and was sensible in possession. Encouraging! 7/10

Nicholson – he has made this role his own, and he looked very comfortable. Good reader of the game, and generally useful in possession. Sometimes his range of passing can let him down, but he picked out Fredericks with a cracking long pass in the first half. Made plenty of interceptions, but also wasn’t scared of a tackle, despite being a real bean-pole. I thought he was very unlucky to be booked at the end of the first half. 8/10

Fredericks – impressive performance from Ryan, who has quick feet, and generally delivers dangerous crosses. Mixes it up by firing in low crosses once in a while. Clearly a player who likes to get to the by-line, and I think he would benefit from keeping defenders guessing by coming inside more. 7/10

Kane – generally I’ve seen him used in the Mason role, but he was even deeper today. Kane is more of a passer, whereas Mason is probably more of a Modric-esque schemer. He still looks quite clumsy at times, but he is very effective, and he took his goal really well. Good all-round performance. 8/10

M’Poku – he was less involved this week than he had been in the previous three games, but looks a real class act. One of the few players in this squad who has a bag of tricks, and is not afraid to use them. He’s a strong runner, and has clearly also improved on his defensive game this year. The brightest prospect in the current side IMO. 7/10

McBride – he impressed me again. He’s quite unfussy – I get the impression that he likes to work a yard, and deliver a cross where possible. Has a very neat touch with his left, and also showed the occasional burst of acceleration, although he doesn’t have blistering pace. 7/10

Oyenuga – he battled very hard, which I felt was lacking from his game against United. He must have given up 3 or 4 inches to the two Fulham centre halves, but he won a very high percentage of aerial challenges, to the extent where the Fulham goalkeeper bellowed “how many more d’you wanna let him win?” at one point in the second half. Willing runner, great workrate, and plenty of quality too. Probably our MOTM. 8/10

Durojaiye – we looked a little uncertain with the Durojaiye/Byrne combination at the back, and he was probably at fault for the goal. 6/10

A drastic improvement from the last time I saw this team, and I’m pleased that Inglethorpe now has the balance right in the middle of midfield. I have a few concerns about the defence, as there doesn’t seem to be a natural partnership that can take over from the Caulker/Butcher combination.

Spurs Odyssey report.
Official Site report.

Tactics for Chelsea

Yesterday was a little disappointing, but I expected 0 points or 1 point from these two games, so it wasn’t as earth shattering to me as it seems it has been to some. United were well worth the 3 points – Vidic, Fletcher and Rooney in particular were excellent, and Berbatov in the first half was majestic at times.

Next week we play Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. They will probably line up something like this:

Bosingwa Carvalho Terry Cole
Essien Ballack Malouda

Lampard and Drogba have been quite exceptional so far (I struggle to see how Defoe took PotM ahead of either of them), and in my opinion our focus must be to contain these two if we are to get anything from the game.

How do we contain them?

  1. Sit Huddlestone just in front of Drogba, so when competing for any high balls, he has King behind and Huddlestone in front. We tried this with King against Kevin Davies last season, and it seemed to work well.
  2. Have Palacios man-mark Lampard. Everything comes through Lampard, so nullifying that threat will mean they have to take chances in other areas of the pitch, which could leave them open to the counter.

Chelsea’s other huge attribute is their height; they are so dangerous from set pieces. In Terry, Ballack and Drogba, they have three of the best in the league at attacking the ball. For this reason, playing both Gomes and Crouch could prove vital. Gomes, whilst being capable of blunders, will compete for crosses, whereas Cudicini hugs his line like Robinson used to, inviting pressure on to us. A decisive goalkeeper against a strong set-piece side is crucial.

My full line up would be:

Corluka King Bassong Assou-Ekotto
Lennon Jenas Huddlestone Kranjcar

NB: If Dawson is fit, he would also be in my side ahead of Bassong/Woodgate, as he has played well against Drogba in the past.

Tough choice to not select Defoe or Keane, but I think both have been poor in the last two games (despite Defoe’s cracking finish against United), and I don’t think we can go with two many small players against a side as big and strong as Chelsea.

Harry was out-thought by Old Whiskey Face this weekend – let’s hope he comes back strongly.

Academy round-up

With thanks to the brilliant Spurs Odyssey.

Sat 25 Jul (Spurs Lodge) Tottenham U-18s 3-2 West Ham U-18s
Our scorers: Kane (2), M’Poku

Ranieri (17)
Waller-Lassen (16) Durojaiye (16) Francis-Angol (??) Nicholson (17)
Fredericks (16) Ekim (17) Carroll (17) McBride (16)
Oyenuga (16) Kane(16)

Butler (17) for Ranieri, 46
M’Poku(17) for McBride, 46
Lancaster (16) for Francis-Angol, 46
O’Neill (17) for Fredericks, 46
Pritchard (16?) for Ekim, 52
Byrne (17) for Carroll, 62
Fredericks (16) for Oyenuga, 83

NB: Rolling subs were allowed, hence Fredericks coming off and back on!

Match report from Spurs Od.


Sat 08 Aug (London Colney) Tottenham U-18s 0-2 Arsenal U-18s

Butler (17)
Byrne (17) Durojaiye (16) Blackwood (17) Carroll (17)
Waller-Lassen (16) Mokotjo (??) Parrett (17) Zongo (??)
Kane (16) M’Poku (17)


Nicholson (17) for Byrne, 26
Byrne (17) for Blackwood, 46
Ekim (17) for Parrett, 46
Oyenuga (16) for Waller-Lassen, 56
Lancaster (16) for Zongo, 63
McBride (16) for M’Poku, 76
Ranieri (17) for Butler, 76

NB: Rolling subs were allowed again.

The South African pair of Masibusane Zongo and Kamohelo Mokotjo played on trial.

Match report from Young Guns.


FA Premier Academy League
Sat 25 Jul (Rockcliffe Park, Hurworth Place, Darlington) Middlesboro U18 3-2 Tottenham U-18s
Our scorers – Durojaiye, M’Poku

Butler (17)
Nicholson (17) Durojaiye (16) Blackwood (18) Byrne 917)
Fredericks (16) Cox (18) Ekim (17) M’Poku (17)
Kane © (16)
Oyenuga (16)

Parrett (17) for Ekim, 39.
Lancaster (16?) for Fredericks, 58.
Carroll (17) for Durojaiye, 68 (at this point, Harry Kane moved to centre back!)

Spurs Odyssey report.


FA Premier Academy League
Sat 29 Aug (Spurs Lodge) Tottenham Hotspur U18s 1-3 Manchester United U18s
Our scorer – Oyenuga

Jansson (18)
Durojaiye (16) Blackwood (18) Cox (18) Francis-Angol (16?)
Byrne (17) Parrett (17) M’Poku (17) McBride (16)
Kane © (16)
Oyenuga (16)


Fredericks (16) for M’Poku, 55.
Ekim (17) for Francis-Angol, 70.
O’Neill (17) for McBride, 75.

Not used:
Nicholson (17)
Butler (17)

My report.
Official Site report.
Spurs Odyssey report.


FA Premier Academy League
Sat 05 Sep (Spurs Lodge) Tottenham Hotspur U18s vs West Ham U18s
Our scorers – M’Poku 3, Oyenuga 2

Butler (17)
Smith (18) Butcher (18) Byrne (17) Francis-Angol (16?)
Fredericks (16) Nicholson (17) M’Poku (17) McBride (16)
Kane © (16)
Oyenuga (16)


Durojaiye (16) for Butcher (18), 46.
Lancaster (16?) for Fredericks, 60.
O’Neill (17) for M’Poku, 71.

Not used:
Ranieri (17)
Blackwood (18)

Spurs Official Site report.
West Ham Official Site report.

Next up is a tough game at Southampton, who beat United a fortnight ago…

29/08/09 Tottenham Hotspur U18s 1-3 Manchester United U18s, Spurs Lodge

A sunny but chill morning for Spurs U18’s first home game of the season against Manchester United. Last week Spurs lost 3-2 at Boro, whereas United lost 3-1 to Southampton.

Nice to see Tim Sherwood again watching the Academy side (and giving the ref some stick!), and Dawson and Woodgate, presumably in for some treatment, giving the young lads some support too.

Note: my timing’s may be slightly off, I was trying to keep track on my phone.

Still experimenting with the new intake and coping without the best players from last season, Inglethorpe set up his team in a 4-4-2, with M’Poku in an unusual role for him – central midfield. In these games, clubs are allowed to name three “overage” players, and so Spurs were able to include Janssen, Cox, and our summer acquisition from Arsenal, Blackwood.

Jansson (18)
Durojaiye (16) Blackwood (18) Cox (18) Francis-Angol (16?)
Byrne (17) Parrett (17) M’Poku (17) McBride (16)
Oyenuga (16) Kane © (16)


Fredericks (16) for M’Poku, 55.
Ekim (17) for Francis-Angol, 70.
O’Neill (17) for McBride, 75.

Not used:
Nicholson (17)
Butler (17)

The game started with Spurs kicking from right to left, and it didn’t take long for United to settle, playing crisp passes (often first time) and moving the ball across the pitch with ease, rather like Spurs managed to do last season. With only 2 minutes on the clock, Anton Blackwood totally misread a pass and, in trying to recover, was beaten for pace and strength by the United forward, John Cofie, who finished low through Oscar Jansson’s legs.

On 7 minutes Spurs had their most encouraging attack so far, with McBride breaking well, but firing a rather tame cross-come-shot safely into the arms of Conor Devlin, the United goalkeeper. Unfortunately on 13 minutes, another Blackwood error was punished by a superb finish from the left side of the box by their skipper, Robbie Brady.

Parrett, for the second time in the match, showed some responsible defending in the corner, tracking a runner before taking control of the ball and winning a throw.

United’s Norweigian striker, Josh King was absolutely dominant in the air and, in fact, dominant on the ground too. Cox obviously isn’t the biggest, but Blackwood must be close to 6 foot, and King seemed to be a foot above him in the air at times – he had the ability to get up early and just hang. His first touch was generally imamculate too, and he was really giving our lads the runaround.

With just over 20 minutes gone, Jansson came out to smother a through ball, but ended up handling just outside the box – although we felt that he released the ball in time. The referee decided that a free-kick was punishment enough (with covering players around), and so no further action was taken. The free-kick led to a corner, and at this point M’Poku absolutely bellowed at the Spurs boys to get organised, using the phrase “flipping heck”, which tickled me.

Spurs had 5 or so minutes of better possession, but nothing really came off any of our attacking moves. We did win a free kick, which Kane rather weakly curled into the keeper’s hands but, shortly after, the game was effectively over as a contest. United sprang a Spurs off-side trap and, with Blackwood effectively stood with his hand in the air waiting for the whistle, Josh King rounded Jansson calmly and slid home.

Spurs nearly responded immediately – Harry Kane pulled away from the United centre backs and curled a beauty of a shot on to the angle of post and bar.

On 37 minutes, Paul-Jose M’Poku, to this point by far our most effective player, went down under a heavy challenge, screaming in agony. He came back on and limped heavily through the rest of the half.

There followed a fairly even passage, and McBride showed signs of getting the better of the huge full back, Reece Brown (brother of Wes). He beat his man, and was brought down on the left of the box. Dean Parrett whipped a free kick into the near post, but it was well defended.

Spurs ended the first half with Blackwood moving to right-back, and Durojaiye partnering Sam Cox at centre back.

Inglethorpe didn’t make any changes at half time, meaning that, amazingly, M’Poku returned for the second half, still limping heavily, and Blackwood continued at right back, where he could do less damage. Straight from kick-off, United’s industrious midfield player Ryan Tunnicliffe, burst forward powerfully, running to the edge of the box where he was brought down. The free kick was struck low and hard and, when it took a deflection, it was fortunately straight at Jansson.

What turned out to be a consolation goal for Spurs came about when a Parrett corner was easily cleared. McBride quickly gave it back to Dean, he beat two men between the corner flag and the goal, before his shot crept over the line, seemingly helped in by Oyenuga.

Spurs were living dangerously, though, and United slipped a great chance wide 8 minutes into the second half, with just Janssen to beat – not the first clear cut chance that they’d failed to get on target. Fredericks came on for M’Poku, clearly still struggling with the injury he’d picked up earlier. Kane moved into central midfield, with Fredericks partnering Kudus Oyenuga up front.

Spurs were playing better at the start of the second half. Parrett showed some terrific skill – having been bundled to the floor, he carried on, beating a player with quick feet before getting back up and eventually shooting on goal, the shot deflected straight into the keeper’s hands. McBride had a useful run and cross down the left, and Oyenuga also had a run and shot which came to nothing.

Unfortunately for Spurs, they didn’t manage to score again whilst they were on top, and the game became fairly scrappy as we let it peter out. Ekim came on for Francis-Angol and, at this point, Kane moved back up front, with Byrne moving to left back, and Fredericks coming over to the right hand side. The final change saw O’Neill come on for the tiring McBride.

Overall a poor performance from a much-changed Spurs team. Last season’s best performers have gone out on loan, and Inglethorpe is still experimenting with team shape, and with the positions of one or two players. I think it’s important to remember how different this team is to the last one that played at Spurs Lodge back on the 2nd May – a 4-1 win over West Ham. Strange that Calum Butcher, who is one who hasn’t gone on loan, didn’t play as an overage player – we could have done with his commanding presence at centre back.

Jansson – wasn’t as busy in goal as he perhaps should have been (United put a lot of chances off target) but when he was called upon he was slightly clumsy. His kicking was poor – one was smashed straight up in the air, one sliced behind him for example. He charged out a couple of times to clear his lines, and this was successful once, but on the other occasion he gave away a dangerous free-kick for handball (although to us this looked a little harsh). 5/10

Durojaiye – he struggled to get forward from right-back (which I gather is his natural position), but looked OK at centre back. Didn’t win too many aerial battles but, against two strong players like John Cofie and Josh King, I don’t think he stood much chance. Interesting that at 16 he was the one offering instructions to Blackwood for periods of the second half. 4/10

Blackwood – it was a nightmare of a game for him but, most worryingly, it wasn’t the first time I’d seen him perform like this. I hope there’s more to come from him and that he wasn’t just signed to make up the numbers. 2/10

Cox – slightly odd seeing Cox play at centre back, but he did OK, particularly on the cover. He was also one of the most vocal Spurs players, giving plenty of encouragement. Naturally he struggled to compete in the air, but he was a lot more solid than either of his defensive partners. 6/10

Francis-Angol – again, it’s important to remember how young he is but, given that he’s a natural left back and so was playing in a familiar position, I didn’t see much to fill me with hope. Always willing to receive the ball, but often he’d just pass it straight back to where it had come from. Struggled defensively to cope with Nicky Ajose on United’s right, and also didn’t get foward to support Paul McBride. 3/10

Byrne – I was really disappointed with Byrne, probably more than any other player, since I’d seen him play so well against West Ham in May. He actually looked weaker than he did last year, and a less willing runner. Yes, he didn’t get much support from either Blackwood or Durojaiye, but he pretty much offered nothing all game. 3/10

Parrett – if he had showed the guts, drive, and ability that he showed in a twenty-minute spell in the second half for the rest of the game, I would have been delighted with his performance. As it is, I’m still left wondering what his best position is, and what his exceptional qualities are. As I say, for those twenty minutes, he really stamped his authority on the game and looked like one of the best players on the pitch. I was also pleased to see him track back twice in the first half to good effect. 6/10

M’Poku – easily Spurs’ best player going forward, and it was a shame that he picked up a knock, as he looked our most likely route to a goal. I’d not seen him play centrally before, and I don’t think the balance was at all right with him and Parrett in there, but he looked (physically and technically) our best player by a margin. 7/10

McBride – the most impressive of the players I’d not seen before. He needs time to fill out and develop, but he was keen to try to beat his man, and looked to have a few tricks up his sleeve. Without much pace and strength, it’s hard to know whether he’ll ever make it as a genuine winger, and perhaps he’ll end up playing centrally, but I look forward to following his progress over the course of the season. 5/10

Oyenuga – it’s hard to know what to say about his performance. Whilst he, at times, looked like he may get the better of the United defence with some physical play, he never actually managed it. His first touch is not yet good enough to allow him to hold the ball up successfully, nor does he really have the burst of pace to get in behind. 4/10

Kane – Harry’s been given the armband this year, but he doesn’t seem particularly vocal. Another one where I’m really not sure what type of player he is – he seemed to drop off a lot today, almost as if he’s been asked to play the Mason role but, to me, he looks better pulling wide, or playing further up the pitch so that he can get into the box and get on the end of things. When moved into central midfield he looked cumbersome and uncomfortable. 4/10

Fredericks – in fairness to him, he didn’t see much of the ball. He showed a couple of nice touches, but didn’t create anything or trouble the United backline.

Ekim – again, it’s important to remember how young these lads are but, at the moment, I think he has a long, long way to go. Doesn’t seem quick enough in terms of thought and feet.

O’Neill – didn’t really influence the game in any meaningful way but, like Fredericks, showed some neat touches. Wanted to drop his shoulder and come inside but, the way the United central midfield players played, that was a mistake.

So plenty of room for improvement for our lads and, given that they are so young, they could learn a few more tough lessons this year. I have faith in Inglethorpe to find more balance – I don’t think Parrett and M’Poku in the middle is right but, without the physical presence of Kasim, it’s easy to understand why he maybe wanted the more physical M’Poku in there to combat the power of Tunnicliffe. Oyenuga and Kane need time to gel, and we have plenty more first year players to come in where necessary.

A quick word on the United side. Really accomplished performance from them overall – Josh King was the star of the show, and I imagine he may make the bench this year. Looks a really talented player, and has a bit of everything. Ryan Tunncliffe is a hard-working, driving midfield player, with a strong upper body and a good attitude. His midfield partner, Etzaz Hussain, who is only 16, played the game the way I like to see it played – did the simple things well, worked hard defensively, andshowed a decent range of passing. With Reece Brown very strong and quick at right back behind Nicky Ajose, very much a flair player, they look a team capable of beating anyone on their day. Worth noting that, like us, United have a few players who started elsewhere elsewhere, and also interesting to note their ages:

Devlin – 17
Brown – 17
Fryers – 16
Wootton – 17
McGinty – 15, signed from Charlton this summer.
Hussain – 16, signed from Langhus IL in January.
Ajose – 17
Tunnicliffe – 16
King – 17, signed from Valerenga a year ago.
Cofie – 16, signed from Burnley two years ago.
Brady – 17, signed 18-months ago from St Kevins Boys in Dublin.

After the game, we got talking to a confident young guy called Omar, who told us that he had been on trial at Spurs for three weeks – he said that he’d scored two and made five in a high-scoring win against Stevenage in the week, but that due to “politics”, he wasn’t playing today and, instead, that he would be taking up the offer of a trial at Chelsea on Monday.
I asked him if he knew the two South African players, Masibusane Zongo and Kamohelo Mokotjo, who had been on trial with us. It turned out that he knows them, and he recommended Zongo in particular as a direct winger with an eye for goal (actually he said, “he gets the ball and BANG! goal”!), but said that they didn’t like it here, and therefore won’t be signing. He said that Dean Parrett was the most impressive of the Spurs players and that Fulham, his old club, had a better Academy side than Spurs.

Official Site report.
Spurs Odyssey report to follow here.
United perspective – I’m quite encouraged that they picked out the same star men for United as me!

NB: Forgot to mention that Bostock was there, on crutches, and with his foot/ankle in a cast.

Hypocritical Wenger?

It was interesting to hear Wenger’s take on Eduardo’s dive last night, especially when he’d previously made rather different comments when Eboue dived to win them a free kick (from which they scored) in the Champions League final in 2006:

“It is clear there was no foul. I condemn and regret the attitude of Eboue.”

“I have always risen up against cheating.”

“Eboue cheated by simulating the foul. I detest simulation.”