Spurs under 18’s 3-5 Norwich City: (match report)
A much changed Spurs under 18 side fell to a 5-3 defeat to bottom of the table Norwich on Wednesday afternoon, in a thrilling affair at the clubs Colney training centre. Despite Parker fielding a second string side with bit of experimentation across the park, it was a game in which Spurs should have won. For large periods of the game we were the better and more resourceful side who managed to use the ball well. Despite the fact that we were the far more threatening side going forwards, we still managed to let in five Norwich goals against a canaries team whose only real attacking threat came from striker Adam Idah (who ended up scoring a hat-trick). A major factor behind this, was the poor and sloppy defending from the defence along with a few goalkeeping errors from Charlie Freeman on his first appearance of the season. Interestingly Parker opted to play winger Mukendi in the centre of midfield alongside u16 Harvey White. Whilst deciding to put Bowden and Statham in the centre of defence. All three of Tottenham’s goals came from top scorer and captain Reo Griffiths, who was once again simply unplayable both on and off the ball. Griffiths also managed to score two absolute howitzers past the Norwich keeper Sam Blair. The 17 year olds stock continues to rise by each game. Norwich got the game underway, in what were foggy conditions in the Norfolk countryside. It took the canaries less than a minute before getting their first attempt on goal of the game, through forward Adam Idah. The strikers quick fire attempt from the edge of the area ended up smashing into the side netting of Freeman’s net. Soon afterwards, Spurs came within an inch of opening the scoring after catching Norwich on the counter. After going forward down the left flank, Rayan Clarke managed to set Griffiths charging down the same side with a clever little pass. Griffiths continued into the penalty area before squeezing an effort narrowly wide of the post.
Harvey White had an effort blocked soon afterwards as Spurs began to assert their authority on the game. However, some bad defending at the other end allowed Norwich to take an underserved lead following a costly error from Maxwell Statham at the back. Despite not being under pressure the centre half sloppily passed the ball straight to Idah. After picking up the ball, the Irishman sprinted towards goal before rifling the ball into the bottom left hand corner of Freeman’s net. Such was the venom on Idah’s shot, that Freeman’s hand on the ball couldn’t stop it from heading in, 0-1. A couple of moments later, Statham did exactly the same thing after gifting the ball straight to Idah. But this time the Cork man fired wide of the mark. The canaries were enjoying a good spell of possession, Alfie Payne managed to pick out Saul Milovanovic inside the danger zone with a whipped free kick. Thankfully Freeman was aware to the danger, and managed to collapse his body to stop Milovanovic’s header from close range. Parker’s side needed to find a break through. After Bilal Kamal lashed over for the home team, Spurs went on a promising attack down the left channel. Reynolds nicely threaded pass to Griffiths, resulted in the Spurs striker bursting forward. Managing to hold his man off with ease as he strode into the opposition box, Griffiths squared for Mukendi in front of the centre of the goal. But the makeshift midfielder couldn’t quite make contact with the ball as Max Aarons got in front of him to make a timely intervention. Spurs were struggling to carve open the deep lying canaries defence despite their best efforts, Rob Burch knew of the importance of not conceding the next goal, as he rallied to the players the need to ”Stay in the game!” from the touchline.
Our 30 minute leveller through Reo Griffiths came as no surprise however, it had been coming for a while. Shortly after volleying the ball over the crossbar, Griffiths had managed to totally catch out the Norwich goalkeeper. It was a goal out of nothing, Richards had won the ball out left before passing to Griffiths. Who continued forwards with the ball before unleashing a howitzer of an effort, which flew into the bottom right hand corner of Blair’s goal. No sooner had the Norwich keeper been able to register Griffiths’ shot than he was picking it out of the net. It was a stunning strike, 1-1. Such was the end to end nature of the game, that Norwich responded with a clever piece of play from Alfie Payne. Payne threaded a deceptive pass through the Spurs defence, but Jamie Bowden managed to get a vital foot on the ball to prevent a golden chance for Adam Idah inside the area. We continued to improve and we were looking the far better side on the ball. Rodel Richards had a promising effort blocked by a Norwich defender, before Reo Griffiths won a penalty on the stroke of half time. After seeing his scooped ball into the danger zone handled by Jordan Thomas, the referee immediately pointed to the spot. Tottenham’s top scorer stood up confidently before calmly tucking the ball the wrong way of Blair, giving Spurs a deserved lead. This was fast becoming a thrilling and unpredictable encounter, one in which you couldn’t take your eye off. It was also fast becoming a game to forget for young centre back Maxwell Statham. Whose second costly error of the game would allow Norwich with an opportunity to equalise, straight from the restart. It was a silly cross field pass from Statham towards Bowden which allowed Norwich with a clean route through to goal. His undercooked pass was intercepted by Payne who quickly played the ball in to Rosaire Longelo, who drove the ball into the bottom right corner of the Spurs goal, straight through the hands of the diving Freeman. The game could have and should been out of sight by the time the Spurs players had made their way of the pitch for half time.
I noticed that Scott Parker was giving left winger Rayan Clarke a talking to as the two sets of players came out for the second half. Clarke had rarely taken on any Norwich players during the first half, something which would change dramatically in this half. The second half started in just the same fashion as the first. After powering forwards through the middle, Griffiths slipped the ball out to Clarke on the left hand side. Clarke cut inside on to his right before seeing his curling effort blocked wide for a corner kick. The canaries responded at the other end through substitute Connor Parsons, who managed to weave around Tainio inside the Tottenham box, before squaring for Kamal. Thankfully for Freeman, the midfielders effort from close range was completely scuffed and resulted in an easy save for the 18 year old. After a decent start to proceedings, Parker’s side got caught completely by surprise by the home side when Adam Idah made it 3-2 to City. It was a really fast and well worked move from the canaries, Payne managed to pick out Idah down the right hand side. The Irishman advanced forward before firing an effort towards the Tottenham goal which wasn’t dealt with accordingly by Freeman, as it went through his
legs and into the back of the net. The impressive Jamie Reynolds had managed to pick up a bad looking injury in the aftermath to the that goal, Reynolds was swiftly replaced by Tariq Hinds. But before that substitution could be made Spurs had spectacularly drawn level through a Reo Griffiths thunderbolt. Straight from the restart Spurs had managed to knock the ball forward, Tainio did well to cushion the ball down to Griffiths who managed to get the ball out of his feet before smashing an excellent arching effort into the top left hand corner of Blair’s goal from 25 yards out, leaving him absolutely motionless in the process. It was a goal of the highest quality from Griffiths whose latest goal proved to be his 29th of this season, 3-3!
Substitute Tariq Hinds fired an effort narrowly wide soon afterwards, as the frantic pace of the game continued to cause problems for both teams. This crazy game of football took another significant turn after Parsons regained the lead for Norwich soon afterwards with a slightly fortuitous effort on goal. The substitute had tried his luck from the edge of the area with a decent low attempt on goal, but it lacked power and was seemingly not going to trouble the diving Freeman. Unfortunately, that wasn’t to be the case as the young goalkeeper misjudged the pace on the ball, as he palmed into his own net. Leaving Spurs coach John McDermott with his head in his hands. There wasn’t to be a quick fire response for Tottenham this time, Rodel Richards wayward effort was the only goal attempt they could muster before Norwich made it 5-3! Shortly after Parsons fired inches wide of Freeman’s goal from the left hand side. Freeman did well to deal with Adam Idah’s menacing cross, but he could do nothing to prevent their fifth of the game. Idah had secured the points for Norwich with an unstoppable strike from an acute angle. After receiving the ball out on the right flank, Idah decided to run at Statham. Off balancing him as he surged forward towards the danger zone, before rifling the ball into the left corner of Freeman’s goal with a superb strike from so little to aim at. If anyone remembers Robbie Keane’s memorable goal against Bolton, well it was like that but without the sublime piece of skill, 3-5. Spurs were trying desperately hard to respond, Griffiths hit an excellent thumping effort towards goal which was well parried from the surprised looking Blair.
Parker brought on late substitutions by the names of Maghoma and Thorpe, the former managed to go close soon after entering the fray. After firing over the bar following some good build up play from the Spurs players. You could tell that Spurs were really pushing for the game as it entered its final stages. After receiving Clarke’s cross field pass from about 25 yards out from goal, Griffiths almost got his fourth with a promising low effort on the turn, which flew inches wide of the goal. The two tried to combine again moments later but Clarke’s pacy cross managed to just deceive the attention of Griffiths at the back post. For the neutrals it was a really entertaining game of football with plenty of attempts on goal, even as we reached the final moments of the game. Chances came and went for the hosts to extend their lead, first through former Spur Anis Mehmeti who ran at the Spurs back line before dragging an effort wide of goal. Mehmeti came close to scoring again, after getting on the end of Thomas’ through ball on the right flank. Mehmeti cut inside before attempting to tuck the ball inside Freeman’s near post, somehow Statham got there to make a magnificent goal line block. Mehmeti was making some impact on the game and he fired another effort wide just a couple of minutes later. Following the introduction of Maghoma, Spurs had pushed Bowden up to CM whilst dropping White back at centre half alongside Statham. Despite their best late efforts, Spurs were unable to salvage anything from the game, Kamal curled an effort narrowly wide for the home side. Before Tariq Hinds tried his luck at the other end with a good effort on goal which was duly saved by Blair after he cut inside from the left. It was a day to forget for Spurs in the Norfolk countryside, despite being the better side they let defensive errors allow Norwich a way into the game and they were punished for it. On a different note it was great to see some different players on the team sheet, I think it’s fair to say that it was a game of experimentation from Parker, whose sides next game is away to Chelsea on Wednesday. COYS
Player reviews: – Charlie Freeman: First of all, for those unaware of Freeman’s situation, he has been absent for most the campaign with a broken arm. A long rehabilitation process coupled in with the fact that he has only featured two times previously for the u18’s. This was still relatively uncharted territory for the 18 year old. As you may have gathered from my report, he did make some costly errors, ones that he’ll be bitterly disappointed with. But he was also on hand to make some good saves and managed to be alert to danger. Freeman is an excellent young keeper who has had a very tough two years as a scholar. I will accept no criticisms of his performance against the canaries. I look forward of seeing more of him during the remainder of the campaign, I rate him highly!
– Maximus Tainio: A competent performance at right back from the young Finn who looked good overall. He did however get done for pace on a couple of occasions down that side.
– Jamie Reynolds: A typically high energy performance from the flying left back. Reynolds was flawless defensively but once again it was his attacking play and surging runs down the left which were so potent. That’s why it was such a shame to see him go off on the hour mark with what looked like a potentially bad injury to his leg, he had to be helped off the pitch by two paramedics.
– Harvey White: An impressive full u18 debut from the schoolboy. White looked very assured in the centre of the park, he kept himself busy and made some crunching and well timed challenges on the Norwich players. His range of passing was also impressive, filled in well at CB for the latter part of the game.
– Maxwell Statham: This wasn’t a game that Statham will have fond memories of, he wasn’t at his best by any means. Despite the fact that he was excellent in the air, Statham had a tough game against the canaries attacking players. Two completely misplaced passes after playing it out from the back proved costly and resulted in two goals. Had a couple of other shaky moments but did make a magnificent goal line block late on. From my observations this season, he strikes me as more of a Shane Duffy type of player than a Lyons-Foster.
– Jamie Bowden: In what was clearly another piece of experimentation from the Tottenham coaches, Bowden played the majority of the game at CB. And he did a good job and looked more than competent in a position that he is more than capable in. It was his exceptional long balls from the back which were his greatest asset, I must have counted about 20 or so perfect launched balls up to the wide men. That was exactly the reason why it was so frustrating not to see him in the centre of the park.
– Maurizio Pochettino: Pochettino Junior was pretty anonymous for this game, rarely took players on and was rarely seen with the ball at his feet, tended to drift away from the action.
– Jeremie Mukendi: A direct winger by trade, it came as a real surprise to see Mukendi start the game from the centre of midfield. Never really managed to impact the game from that position, and was brought off injured on 68 minutes.
– Reo Griffiths: My motm, see below.
– Rodel Richards: Decent performance from the cam, showed good feet and managed to do well on the ball. Assisted Griffiths’ first of the game.
– Rayan Clarke: After a very quiet first half, Parker had a word in his ear at the break and it seemed to really change Clarke’s game. He was taking players on for fun in the second half down the left side. Was direct and tricky, and in doing so he managed to unsettle Max Aarons.
– Paris Maghoma: A nice cameo, gave us an attacking outlet from midfield. Looked good on the ball and showed flashes of creativity, also hit some decent efforts at goal.
– Elliot Thorpe: A fleeting cameo from the Welshman who despite his limited time on the pitch, still managed to get involved in some nice Spurs moves.
My man of the match: Reo Griffiths. Simply unplayable, but that’s nothing unusual from the young lilywhites top scorer this campaign. Griffiths had an immense impact on the game, of course he grabbed out three goals, all of which were taken excellently. But it was his all round game which was so impressive, that ability to combine his ‘fox in the box’ style of play alongside excellent hard work and pressing for the team. He skippered them well, covered a huge amount of distance and was a real creative force whenever he decided to drive forward, he peeled off the defenders well and did a great job at holding up the ball.
Spurs U18s: Freeman, Tainio, Reynolds (Hinds 58), White, Statham, Bowden, Pochettino (P Maghoma 68), Mukendi (Thorpe 80), Griffiths (c), Richards, Clarke. Substitute (not used): Oluwayemi (GK).
Under 18 Goals scored this season: Reo Griffiths-28
Phoenix Patterson -8
Dilan Markanday- 6
Jamie Bowden- 1
Assists: Phoenix Patterson-9
Matt Lock- 2
Maurizio Pochettino -1