Spurs under 18’s 2-1 Southampton: (match report)

Spurs under 18’s 2-1 Southampton: (match report)

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“As much as we’re developing players here, of course we are, I wanted to give them some understanding that in first team football, after two back-to-back defeats there’s pressure on you to go and win the game. As much as we want to do the right things, develop and play the right way, I said that we needed to win the game and first and foremost, we did that.“(Scott Parker)

Southampton’s state of the art training facility (Staplewood) was the stage for our under 18’s match against the saints earlier today, as Scott Parker’s lads fought out a narrow 2-1 victory over the Saints, to get some vital points on the board. It was really a game of two halves, Spurs’ attacking intensity and non stop pressure ensured a deserved two goal lead at the interval, whilst the second half saw an attacking onslaught from the home side, as the saints pushed us to the wire, and in all honestly the game probably deserved to be a draw. Such was their dominance in the second half. It was a quick start as Spurs got the action going (in their navy blue away kit). Spurs striker Reo Griffiths got Spurs off to a promising start, when he tested the saints keeper Alex Cull from close range, Cull parried his effort away. The saints then tested our resolve at the other end, when their striker Michael Obafemi caught Spurs kipping at the back, through on goal his effort was shot straight at Austin who thwarted clear. After a close knit opening ten minutes, Parker’s lads got off to a great start when they took an early lead. A Southampton defender gave away possession to Griffiths, who darted forward to the edge of the penalty area, before hitting a low effort into the far bottom corner of Cull’s net, 1-0. It was an entertaining start to the game, which saw chances at either end, both sides were really up for it!

Spurs started to cement some authority on the game following their opener, Markanday went on a great jinking run as he cut in from the right, before angling an effort inches wide of Cull’s post. Southampton almost caught Spurs out at the other end, when left back Jake Vokins’s deceptive cross went just wide of Austin’s far post, much to the 18 year olds relief. However, Parker’s side went on to extend their lead on 26 minutes after right back Matt Lock embarked on a fruitful run. Before slipping in Patterson down the right side, his powerful low drive squirmed inside Cull’s near post to send Spurs into a perfect two goal lead. It was a highly energetic, high tempo performance from our lads as they looked to maintain their lead. Prominent Irish youth international Jonathan Afolabi powered wide from 25 yards out, as a frustrated saints side looked to get back into the game. Soon after Afolabi’s effort, front man Obafemi got the wrong side of Statham before testing Austin from close range, the Spurs man comfortably gathered. Southampton’s resurgent performance towards the end of the first half continued, when Afolabi teed the ball off to Will Smallbone on the edge of Spurs box, the 17 year old forcing a fine finger tip save from Austin, as his well curled effort was tipped onto the post. Phoenix Patterson created something out of nothing for Spurs near the end of the half, when he swivelled round onto his left foot on the edge of the box, only to see his curling effort land right in the hands of Cull.

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Spurs could count themselves a tad lucky to have their two goal cushion when the saints threatened again in the dying minutes of the half, Obafemi robbing Lock of possession. Before sprinting forward down the left side, and slicing an effort fortunately wide of Austin’s goal, a fine start to the first 45 from Parker’s lads. The second half started off with a chance down the Spurs end, Paris Maghoma hitting a dangerous cross from the left side of the penalty area to cap off a fine piece of play, but his cross was blocked by a Southampton defender. A dangerous attack from the home side followed, as the pacy Afolabi ran at the Spurs defence before clipping a cross into Obafemi, who fortunately for Austin, sliced wide of the Spurs goal. The saints were looking by far the better side as the half continued, Afolabi again creating Spurs problems down the left with his searing pace, the Irishman whipping a ball across the face of the Spurs goal. The resulting corner for Craig Flemings side was headed on to the cross bar by a Spurs player, Griffiths. It was all Southampton as Spurs’ concentration seemed to dip, a finger tip save from Austin denying Flemings side a route back into the game. Following an attack from the lilywhites at the other end, Southampton counter attacked us, Obafmei finding Afolabi down the left flank as he powered forward before unleashing a stunning long range strike, which cannoned off of Austin’s crossbar, Spurs were lucky to still have their clean sheet.

A rare Spurs attack saw Spurs fight back at the other end, Patterson cut inside down the left, as he advanced down the byline, some great work from the Spurs man who layed the ball off to Griffiths. But disappointingly for him he’s close range effort went over the crossbar. To the home sides credit it was a miracle that they hadn’t got a goal back on us during the second half, they were running rampant and were playing some great football. Another fantastic effort from Afolabi (who was by far the saints best player) saw him cut in from his left before having a pop at goal from 20 odd yards out, his excellently struck effort again crashing off the crossbar! Spurs tried to put the game to bed at the other end, the impressive Markanday testing Cull with a low drive. However, our resistance was broken on 80 minutes when Southampton’s attacking might was rewarded with a goal, Kornelius Hansen received the ball in the box, the youngster firing home his effort into the far corner of Austin’s net, 2-1. Despite a shaky last few minutes, Spurs held on to record an important three points against a talented and more physical Southampton side. It was certainly a game of two halves. COYS

My man of the match: Spurs striker Reo Griffiths has started the season on fire and today was no exception, he lead the line extremely well. He was strong powerful and clinical, it wasn’t just his goal that impressed me. It was his all round attacking play, his hold up play and positioning. Griffiths now has four goals from four games.

Player reviews:
– Brandon Austin: A little surprised to see the under 23 mainstay, step down for the under 18’s for today’s game. But Austin (who was the skipper) continued his great start to the season with a top performance in between the sticks. Made some fine saves, was dominant in the air and lead the lads out well form the back, (good leadership).
– Matt Lock: Fine performance at right back from the 17 year old, defensively sound and potent going forward, assisted Patterson’s goal.
– Jamie Reynolds: The central midfielder slotted in well at the unfamiliar left back role, solid and composed.
– Jamie Bowden: Yet another impressive performance from the Carrickesque Bowden, very tidy throughout and made some good challenges. He filled in at centre half later on in the game, and done a fine job.
– Max Statham: The first time I’ve seen him play since that Ipswich under 15 game a few seasons back, and he was just as solid and composed today as he was then. For a youngster of only 16, he demonstrated a great understanding of the game, he was one of our best players on the day.
– Tariq Hinds: The versatile left back who today filled in at centre half before later reverting to his favoured position. Hinds defended well and formed a good centre half partnership with Statham in the first half.
– Dilan Markanday: Really impressive showing from the skilful winger, was a real threat down the right.
– Paris Maghoma: A strong part of the team, he was influential from the midfield with his forward runs, and strong defending, a very skilful player.
– Reo Griffiths: My man of the match (see above).
– Armando Shashoua: A really influential player in the team, he was so versatile in his play. Composed and showed good passing, but it was his ability to fill in for other players which impressed me yet again, whilst operating as a 10, I saw him fill in down the flank and in the centre of midfield, tireless performer.
– Phoenix Patterson: Another fine display on the left flank, good going forward and getting into good positions, took his goal well.

Spurs U18s: Austin (c), Lock (Mukendi 68), Reynolds, Bowden, Statham, Hinds, Markanday (Pochettino 89), P Maghoma, Griffiths, A Shashoua, Patterson (Richards 81).

Substitutes (not used): Thorpe, Oluwayemi (GK).

Goals: 1st half: Griffiths, Patterson. 2nd half: Hansen.

Referee: J.Pike

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