Spurs under 23’s 1-0 Liverpool: (match report)
On one of the chilliest nights of the year our under 23’s took on high flying Liverpool in a crucial PL2 encounter at the Lamex stadium (Stevenage). Following on from that glorious away victory over Manchester United last Monday which boosted Burnett’s sides chance of survival. He would have surely snapped your hand off if he could get a point against top of the table Liverpool, a side who totally outplayed us earlier on in the season at Anfield. The task was made even more difficult by Liverpool’s decision to include four senior internationals in the squad that travelled down to Hertfordshire. Of those included were England international Adam Lallana (29) and forward Danny Ings (25). Although it was to end in tears for one of them towards the latter part of the game. Liverpool had on paper the far better side and I really feared that our lads were going to be on the end of a spanking. However, Burnett’s side showed maturity beyond their years, they dominated the central areas and were flawless at the back. Whilst being intelligent and diligent in the final third. The imperious defending of Jonathan Dinzeyi and Christian Maghoma at the back managed to snuff out the danger of Solanke and Ings up top. Whilst the excellent work of Roles and Marsh in the middle of the pitch forced the reds creative players into making errors. Jack Roles fourth goal in four games ensured a hugely important win for Spurs in front of a crowd mainly consisting of Liverpool fans. Unfortunately the game had an unsavoury end with two Liverpool players being sent off.
John McDermott and Justin Cochrane were in the dugout for this one as Wayne Burnett sat in the stands (I believe owing to a ban after an incident during the Man United game). The Spurs team included a couple of interesting changes, including an u23 debut for recently signed goalkeeper Luke O’Reilly. Liverpool enjoyed a good start to the game, and were trying to pull off some ambitious passes. Spurs centre half Jonathan Dinzeyi was forced into making a vital last minute interception in the six yard box to stop the advancing Solanke, early on. Before Spurs got let off the hook straight afterwards, when Solanke fluffed an effort from close range. Spurs’ first attempt on goal came after a good turn from Duncan from around 20 yards out, unfortunately he got his effort all wrong and it ended up flying well wide. Spurs were managing to hold their own, Jack Roles’ pass to Bennetts down the left flank resulted in the speedy winger firing an effort across the face of Grabara’s goal. Neither side were in control, though the reds were without doubt the more confident on the ball. And a lovely piece of play from Critchley’s side almost resulted in them taking the lead, after Ben Woodburn picked out Solanke in the area with a nice pass. Fortunately for O’Reilly Dominic Solanke flicked the ball narrowly wide of his goal after a lovely initial turn to outwit the Spurs defence. O’Reilly was forced into making his first save of the game shortly afterwards, when Woodburn’s floated cross was attacked from close range by Solanke. The England internationals header forcing a great save low down by the Spurs man. Who had to be alert once again to keep out Danny Ings clever back heel, moments later.
The heavily involved George Marsh made a brilliant block from a Liverpool free kick to thwart the danger, whilst Ings fired narrowly over O’Reilly’s crossbar. Liverpool were passing the ball around well and with good fluency and attacking intent as the game progressed. But Burnett’s side were not giving them a clear sight of goal, and there high press saw them catch the reds on the break on numerous occasions. A fine Spurs attack almost resulted in the lilywhites taking the lead around the 20 minute mark. Jack Roles done well with the ball in a tight space, opting to fire a low shot which was heading towards the far corner of Grabara’s goal, but for his own player (Kazaiah Sterling) getting in the way. Spurs continued to pressurise the Liverpool defenders, Jack Roles’ lovely lofted through ball set Sterling racing through on goal. Sterling burst forward down the left side of the area before trying to dink the ball over the outrushing Grabara, who managed to get a decisive touch on the ball to steer it wide of goal. The ball was kept in play by Tracey who whipped an inviting low ball into the six yard box. The ball found its way to Bennetts who missed an absolute sitter, after he blazed the ball over from close range. The game was a really even encounter, Spurs had so far managed to cope well with the reds attacking quality through the magnificent tight defending of both Maghoma and Dinzeyi.
Yan Dhanda hit a promising free kick straight at the Spurs wall, whilst Dinzeyi managed to do excellently to prevent a near certain goal for Solanke moments later. There was a really frantic edge to the game, it was impossible to predict which way it would go. The lively Shilow Tracey headed Sterling’s cross straight at Grabara at the back post, whilst O’Reilly had to be alert at the other end to head the ball away from the advancing Solanke. An excellent bit of attacking play from Spurs at the other end resulted in some good chances to open the scoring. An excellent powerful run from Tracey down the right hand side resulted in the winger crossing the ball to Bennetts, who quickly laid it off to Roles on the edge of the penalty area, the midfielders powerful strike being well saved by the diving Grabara. The skilful midfielder managed to work his way into the box a couple of minutes later, only to see his effort blocked, this had been a really good half from Spurs, who looked very assured and comfortable on the ball. The reds got the second half underway, and it was the away team who had to make an important piece of defending straight away. When Herbie Kane got in the way of Jack Roles’ thunderbolt. This had become a game where the defenders took centre stage, the flawless Christian Maghoma made an important block at the other end to stop Adam Lewis’ effort, as the tempo was raised by both sides, as the game intensified. Spurs were continuing to create chances, the influential Roles managed to play Sterling through on goal down the left flank. The Spurs strikers searing run ended after his powerful effort was stopped by Grabara, who made himself big.
Another golden chance came Spurs’ way after Sterling turned provider to pick out Roles with a nice pass into the six yard box. The Spurs midfielder only managing to fire the ball over Grabara’s goal and into the building site that is currently taking place behind where the old stand was. Spurs had managed to take control of the game and they were rewarded 10 minutes into the half when Jack Roles put them ahead. It was the midfielders fourth goal in consecutive games, it was a good counter attacking move from Spurs. As Keanan Bennetts burst forward from the half way line before playing in Roles down the right side of the Liverpool box. The Cypriot youth international strode forward before unleashing a powerful low effort towards Grabara’s near post. The Polish youth international managed to get a hand to Roles effort but it wasn’t enough to prevent it from flying into the bottom right hand corner of the goal. This was a really good spell for Burnett’s side who were in full control, Shilow Tracey fired over from a tight angle shortly afterwards, as we continued to push forwards. Then came the major talking point of the game, when Adam Lallana received a straight red card after an astonishing assault on George Marsh. It all happened after the Spurs midfielder appeared to clatter the back of the England internationals head after going for a header. Lallana got straight up off the floor and in a fit of rage put his hands round the startled Marsh’s neck, pulling his hair in the process. Lallana knew he was going to get a straight red and was already walking towards the tunnel when the referee brought out his red card. A short skirmish followed after both players were separated, as tempers flared. It’s worth noting that Marsh is by no means a saint on the pitch, and it’s perfectly possible that he could have provoked Lallana before hands.
Spurs continued to dominate possession and played with even more confidence after the sending off. The disgruntled Danny Ings reacted furiously to Spurs defender Dinzeyi after the latter climbed on Ings to win a header, the Liverpool forward screaming right in the face of the Spurs man. Neil Critchley’s Liverpool side were not threatening our goal at all. That being said Jonathan Dinzeyi was forced into making some brilliant challenges alongside the commanding Maghoma. Keanan Bennetts had an effort deflected just wide at the other end after a good attack from the lilywhites, as the clock wound down. Things got even better for Spurs when Liverpool received their second red card three minutes from time. George Johnston received his marching orders after making a cynical foul on Eyoma, to receive his second yellow of the game. Roles was then denied a second after some fine defending from the depleted Liverpool defence. It was a thrilling end to end finish to the game, our lads were defending frantically as the reds launched the ball forwards into the danger zone. Kazaiah Sterling was denied a route through on goal after a crunching challenge from the reds goalkeeper Grabara. And there was a late scare for Burnett’s side when Solanke was found at the far post following a long throw in. Fortunately for Spurs, Solanke failed to generate the power needed to trouble O’Reilly. Spurs managed to see out Liverpool’s late attacks, to record a precious and thoroughly well deserved victory. Can Burnett’s side make it 3 wins in 3 when they travel to Dagenham next Monday to face West Ham? COYS
Player reviews: – Luke O’Reilly: Really Impressive debut. Whilst he wasn’t hugely busy, O’Reilly did make some really important stops. Looked very assured, his distribution was impressive, looking forward to seeing more of him.
– TJ Eyoma: Tenacious and flawless as both a right back and in the latter part of the game, as a centre back. No nonsense approach, decisive when it mattered, and kept things simple, no silly passes.
– Jaden Brown: Very assured performance at left back, solid and composed. Was quick to danger.
– George Marsh: Not a night he’ll forget in a hurry. Marsh was Industrious and effective in the centre of the park, worked tirelessly throughout.
– Christian Maghoma: Another superb performance from the DR Congo international. Kept the likes of Solanke and Ings out of the game with his astute defending. Dominant in the air and commanding throughout. Made some vital interceptions and blocks. Formed a really good centre back pairing with Dinzeyi.
– Jonathan Dinzeyi: My motm, see below.
– Shilow Tracey: Another good performance from Tracey down the right flank, was too powerful for Lewis. Ran at players nonstop. Good decision making in the final third, and good at whipping in a cross.
– Dylan Duncan: Dominant and tidy in the central areas. Very strong on the ball, was difficult to shrug off.
– Kazaiah Sterling: Forced the Liverpool defenders into making a string of errors due to his high pressing. Did a good shift up top (i.e: hold up play) despite not getting a great deal of service.
– Jack Roles: Continues his fine goalscoring form. Had a great impact in this game, operating as a number 10. Made brilliant runs towards the edge of the area. Was tidy with the ball. Also Roles was very skilful and effective in the final third. He is playing with great confidence at the moment.
– Keanan Bennetts: Influential out wide, cut inside on numerous occasions. And fed some nice passes into Sterling, Bennetts also set up Roles’ goal, that his fourth assist of the campaign.
– Tashan Oakley Boothe: Good cameo, looked good on the ball and created some nice passages of play.
– Samuel Shashoua: Great to see him return from injury. Nice little cameo, done his defensive duties very well.
My man of the match: Jonathan Dinzeyi. It was a terrific performance from the 18 year old defender on Monday night, Dinzeyi formed a rock solid defensive pairing with Christian Maghoma. Some of his last ditch challenges were top class, but it was also Dinzeyi’s anticipation and decision making which really impressed me. A great all round performance, he was good on the ball and in the air. Dinzeyi is a player who seems to be really kicking on this season after an injury hit 2017.
Spurs: O’Reilly, Eyoma, Brown, Marsh, C Maghoma, Dinzeyi (Skipp 78), Tracey, Duncan (Oakley-Boothe 62), Sterling (S Shashoua 84), Roles, Bennetts. Substitutes (not used): De Bie, Pritchard.
Liverpool: Grabara, Masterson, Lewis, Johnston, Gallacher, Kane (c), Dhanda (Millar 72), Lallana, Ings, Solanke, Woodburn. Substitutes (not used): Kelleher, Camacho, Gomes, Williams.
Goal: Spurs – Roles 55.
Yellow cards: Spurs – Tracey 38, Marsh 46, Brown 84; Liverpool – Johnston 36, 87, Lewis 69.
Red cards: Liverpool – Lallana 63, Johnston 87.
Referee: David Rock.
U23’s 2017/18 statistics: Top scorers: Sterling-8