Spurs under 18’s 4-1 Arsenal: (match report)
Our under 18’s took on Arsenal at the training centre on Saturday morning in the semi-finals of the inaugural under 18 premier league cup. After suffering a 2-0 defeat to Chelsea in the FA youth cup in midweek, I always had the feeling that Scott Parker’s side would be up for the game against the gunners. And I was right, Spurs came out on top from a thrilling and fiercely contested derby which was played on a glorious sunny morning at Hotspur Way. A game consisting of high quality attacking football, it was always going to be a thriller. After an end to end first half which saw Spurs draw level after conceding so early on, Parker’s side managed to weather an early Arsenal storm. The unpredictably of the game made it such a thrilling affair, there were large periods in the game where it looked like Arsenal would coast to victory. But the resilience and creativity of Parker’s side proved to be the game changer, we were the far more intelligent side and were also the far more clinical in front of goal. A fantastic 4-1 win for the young lilywhites has booked their place in the final of the competition (dates and rules are so far unclear) the bad news is that it will be against Chelsea. There were a couple of changes for the game, notably the involvement of Oliver Skipp at centre half. It was a fast start to the game, Arsenal looked the sharpest in the opening couple of minutes and after some good passing the gunners took the lead with just three minutes on the clock. It was an incisive attacking move from the away team, former Spur Jordan McEneff brought the ball forwards towards the edge of the penalty area. Before threading a lovely pass through to Fol Balogun, the forward showed good feet before dinking the ball past De Bie to open the scoring, 0-1.
Spurs looked to respond and Paris Maghoma managed to win a free kick in a dangerous area for Spurs soon afterwards, but the midfielders effort went straight into the Arsenal wall. After the early pressure applied by Arsenal, Spurs were now enjoying a bright spell and Parker’s lads almost drew level. When Paris Maghoma volleyed Phoenix Patterson’s cross a couple of inches over Virginia’s crossbar. Spurs were dominating the central areas, moving the ball around with a real zip and attacking intent. Maghoma tried another testing effort from range which was tipped over by the Arsenal goalkeeper. And it was from the resulting corner kick that Spurs drew level. Jamie Reynolds corner kick managed to bounce all the way to Maghoma in the centre of the penalty area, his header was clawed away by Virginia but the 16 year old made no mistakes on the follow up as he calmly tapped the ball home, 1-1. Played at such a fast pace this game was never going to have any quiet spells, and soon after the restart we almost gifted Arsenal the lead once more. It would have been a really silly goal to concede, Jonathan De Bie in the Spurs goal was caught out after playing around with the ball at his feet. Put under pressure by Arsenal striker Fol Balogun De Bie tried to clear the ball. But in a panic the ball hit the back of Balogun and went just over the Belgians goal to spare his blushes. This was a real thriller of a tie, end to end and with little Indications as to which way it would go.
Reo Griffiths did really well to steer wide a dangerous Arsenal free kick, whilst Jordan McEneff managed to connect well with Zak Swanson’s delivery. But the Irishman’s scruffy effort squirmed just wide of the Spurs goal. The efforts kept on coming at the Spurs goal, defender Matthew Smith forced a save albeit it a comfortable one out of De Bie after an ambitious shot from range. Some good work from the prominent McEneff resulted in him winning the ball in the centre of the park before feeding the ball through to Balogun, who managed to work the ball around a couple of Arsenal defenders before forcing a fine save out of De Bie from close range. After being under the cosh for quite a while Spurs managed to get back on the offensive, the lively Bennett forced a save out of Virginia after a nice run and cut inside. The frantic end to the half continued, substitute Bukayo Saka’s effort stung the palms of De Bie. Before producing another good save moments later to stop the same man again. The second half had barely begun when the gunners almost retook the lead. Straight from the restart that man again Saka, provided the danger. His powerful effort which was heading towards the far corner of De Bie’s goal was superbly blocked at the last moment by Skipp, Swanson then whipped a dangerous ball across the face of the goal as the away team continued to be the better side. That’s why it came as a bit of surprise to me when we took the lead on 51 minutes.
It was a really smart move from Parker’s side, some excellent work from the potent Bennett down the left hand side, saw the pacy winger work the ball down towards the byline. Before sending in a lovely cross towards Griffiths inside the danger zone, the Spurs striker connected with his cross perfectly. Placing a lovely dipping header past the helpless Virginia and into the top left hand corner of the goal, Griffiths ran towards the nearest corner flag joined by his team mates. They performed there frequent celebration, pointing and shouting “no time” (I’m still trying to work out what it means!). Another brilliantly worked moved from the lilywhites took place a couple of minutes later. A sublime flick on by Richards set Hinds through down the right hand side, the fullbacks cross came to Patterson inside the six yard box, but he got his effort all wrong and totally fluffed the chance. The impressive Saka almost drew level in what was a becoming a crazy tie, the wingers effort cannoned off of De Bie’s crossbar after some excellent foot work by the Arsenal youngster to outwit Reynolds down the right flank. A cynical foul by Swanson to stop the advancing Bennett then denied a dangerous Spurs counter attack. The resulting free kick was cleverly curled towards the bottom corner by Patterson, forcing Virginia into palming it away. The intricate and slick attacking football from Parker’s team was so easy on the eye and whilst it continued to be a fairly even tie, we looked far more dangerous and productive in the final third of the pitch.
This dominant attacking spell from the lilywhites continued as Paris Maghoma lashed an effort wide from distance. But danger was never far away, and after a lunging challenge by Skipp from just outside the penalty area we were left defending for our lives. Fortunately for us Saka’s low free effort from the resulting free kick was saved low down by the Spurs goalkeeper. A clever tactical change followed as Parker introduced the high pressing and energetic Shashoua to the scene in place of Patterson in the cam role. The game was breathless, like a game of pinball it was end to end, from counter attack to counter attack. A vital block from the superb Lyons-Foster kept out a dangerous effort at the Spurs goal before De Bie then had to make an important reflex save to stop Balogun’s attempt at goal. Something I remember well from last seasons home game against the gunners was the erratic kicking of their goalkeeper Virginia. And the memories came flooding back after the 18 year olds goal kick was launched straight into the back of the substitute Shashoua. Both players fiercely contested the loose ball inside the penalty area but the Arsenal keeper managed to fight of the eager Spurs man, much to his relief. Arsenal almost found an equaliser after Swanson picked out Balogun with a pin point delivery into the Spurs box. The Arsenal striker sliced the ball on to the roof of De Bie’s goal. As a fan of football you just didn’t want this game to end it had everything. The enigmatic Reo Griffiths urged his team mates not to lose the tie as Arsenal continued to up there tempo.
The newly introduced Dilan Markanday made an almost instantaneous impact after coming onto the pitch. The tricky forward managed to work the ball passed Thompson down the right hand side, his excellent balance and low centre of gravity saw him travel to the byline before squaring the ball across goal, to Griffiths who cooly tapped home to put the game to bed for Spurs with nine minutes remaining, 3-1. De Bie managed to deal with substitute Alfie Matthews effort with relative ease as Spurs looked to see out the final minutes of the game. Parker’s side were in full control they were assured and confident as they continued to get the ball forwards towards the likes of Bennett and Griffiths in the final third. Dead ball specialist Paris Maghoma curled just over from a free kick. Things managed to get even better for Parker’s side who in the dying moments of stoppage time managed to make it 4-1. After some great initial work from Paris Maghoma to carry the ball forwards, the ball came to Markanday down the right hand side.
The forward managed to cut inside onto his left before having an effort blocked by an Arsenal defender. The loose ball was picked up by Griffiths inside the penalty area, the Spurs striker managed to turn his man before powering a low effort beyond Virginia to secure his hat trick. An excellent day for Spurs who will now face Chelsea in the final of the competition, the information regarding that final will be announced in due course. It was probably the most thrilling game of football I’ve seen this season it was an absolute thriller of a tie and one that the Spurs players won’t forget in a hurry. Whilst it finished 4-1 after an excellent second half performance by Spurs, the pattern of the game and the chances created pointed more towards a 4-3 victory for the lilywhites. Either way I’m not going to argue. COYS
Player reviews: -Jonathan De Bie: A top performance from Spurs’ goalkeeper who was incredibly busy throughout the tie. Must have made around 13-15 saves, some of which were top quality.
– Tariq Hinds: Very solid performance stayed deep and put in a fine defensive display.
– Jamie Reynolds: Had a very good first half, particularly whilst going forward, his curling corner on 18 minutes managed to set up Maghoma for the opener. Reynolds was also decent at defending but he did have a tough second half up against the electric Saka who beat him for pace and skill on numerous occasions.
– Jamie Bowden: Whilst many will applaud the attacking flare of those in the final third it’s easy to forget about those players who do the bread and butter side of the game. Playing in the holding midfield role, Bowden had a big influence on the game, he was tidy and involved in play. Skilful and intelligent, managing to wriggle his way out of tricky situations. But most importantly of all he was decisive and had a no nonsense approach to the tie, making countless interceptions. I was also impressed with his off the ball movement. A very classy performance.
– Oliver Skipp: Due to the importance of the tie, u23 starlet Oliver Skipp dropped down for this game, playing at centre half for a change. And once again he was immense, he defended like a seasoned pro. His positioning and decision making were of the highest order, and he certainly wasn’t afraid to get stuck in. Skipp made many crunching challenges, he was aggressive and dominant in the air.
– Brooklyn Lyons-Foster: I couldn’t be a bigger fan of the centre half if I tried, he has everything a defender needs. And his performance against the gunners on Saturday was testament to the great and rather unique ability that he has. He formed an excellent defensive partnership with Skipp, his immaculate reading of the game, athleticism and key challenges were just some of the qualities that he showcased, from yet another terrific performance at the back.
– Rodel Richards: Enjoyed a decent game, worked hard as usual. Went on some tricky runs down the right and had plenty of flare about his game.
– Paris Maghoma: My motm, see below.
– Reo Griffiths: The hat-trick hero was superb as you might have gathered, Griffiths was a real handful for the Arsenal defence, his off the ball work was almost as good as his finishing and positioning. Made key runs and was clinical in front of goal. Took all three of his goals with great composure, the header for the second was top draw.
– Phoenix Patterson: Decent performance in the cam role, quiet for periods of the game. Patterson was good in tight spaces, created a couple of magical moments.
– J’neill Bennett: The 16 year old was electric down the left wing,his searing pace and excellent ball control in tight spaces. Saw him work his way round the Arsenal defence. He was unstoppable on occasions, he mixed things up with some lung bursting sprints and intelligent cutting in on to his left. Produced a wonderful assist to set up Griffiths for the second.
– Armando Shashoua: Really good performance from the substitute, Shashoua was aggressive and involved. Put the Arsenal players under pressure hounding them with his high pressing and eagerness to get back and defend, sheer passion. Also showed great skill on occasions, one such moment was after a long De Bie goal kick. With a tall Arsenal defender breathing down his neck, the midfielder calmly took the ball down like Maradona with the ball glued to his boot, he calmly wriggled away and passed to a team mate.
– Dilan Markanday: Exciting cameo, caused the Arsenal defenders a lot of trouble. With his low centre of gravity and mesmeric skill, Markanday did excellently to set up Griffiths for our third of the game.
My man of the match: Paris Maghoma. Our most influential player on the day, the powerful central midfielder was so key to the way we played. Yes he was tenacious and tidy in the central areas, but his influence on the game came from those trademark driving runs of which he embarked on so regularly. His silky skills and sharp turn of pace outdone the Arsenal midfield on many occasions, his ability to pick out a nice pass and to test the keeper from distance also giving his performance a well rounded edge. Also, managed to score the leveller which was his third of the campaign. Maghoma is one of those players who get the fans excited every time he is on the ball.
Spurs U18s: De Bie (c), Hinds, Reynolds, Bowden, Skipp, Lyons-Foster, Richards (Markanday 75), P Maghoma, Griffiths, Patterson (A Shashoua 66), Bennett. Substitutes (not used): Kurylowicz, Statham.
Under 18 Goals scored this season: Reo Griffiths- 20
Phoenix Patterson -8
Dilan Markanday- 5
Jamie Bowden- 1
- Assists: Phoenix Patterson-9
Matt Lock- 2
Oliver Skipp- 1
Tariq Hinds- 1