Spurs under 23’s 2-1 Chelsea: (match report)
After being reduced to ten men inside the opening 40 minutes, Wayne Burnett could never have predicted his sides heroic response to what was an unfair dismissal of the Spurs skipper Christian Maghoma inside the first half. Our lads have endured a difficult campaign, a campaign where results don’t tell the whole story of how well they have played and gelled as a team. Last nights victory over London rivals Chelsea was testament to that fighting spirit and quality that they have in their ranks. A defensive performance of seismic proportions, not only did we manage to keep Chelsea at bay following the dismissal of Maghoma, but we also managed to time our counter attacks to perfection. Two excellent free kicks from Keanan Bennetts managing to secure a rare win at the bridge for Spurs, who responded to Jordan Grants opener for the blues on 66 minutes. It might just have been our finest performance of the season. Burnett’s side got the London derby underway from a floodlit Stamford Bridge, for Spurs’ penultimate PL2 fixture of the season. And they enjoyed a dominant opening few minutes. As they knocked the ball about with ease, some good tracking back from left winger Bennetts saw him get back to make an important challenge on the byline. Tottenham skipper Christian Maghoma conceded a dangerous free kick a couple of minutes later after being adjudged to have brought down Jacob Maddox, who clearly dived. Charlie Colkett sent the resulting free kick well over Austin’s crossbar. The referee Adrian Quelch wasn’t giving the Tottenham players the benefit of the doubt in the opening 20 minutes, and he was more than happy to book Eyoma on 16 minutes.
There was very little between both sides as we reached the 20 minute mark, it was becoming a very cagey game. Spurs continued to look solid at the back, the impressive Tanganga managed to deal accordingly with Dujon Sterling’s menacing cross. The blues then had a good chance, after Maddox slipped the ball in to Sterling down the right hand side. The Chelsea fullback cut inside Georgiou before squaring the ball to McCormick inside the box. However, the Chelsea midfielder squandered the chance as his miscued effort flew well wide of the mark. Brandon Austin had to make his first save of the game when he dealt comfortably with Colkett’s effort shortly afterwards. Spurs then picked up their second yellow card of the game after Maghoma was penalised for pulling back the advancing Redan on the edge of the Spurs box. Harvey St.Clair’s resulting free kick flew straight into Eyoma in the Spurs wall, winding him in the process. The only criticism of Spurs in the opening stages was their tendency to let the Chelsea wingbacks bomb forwards down the flanks far too easily, giving them lots of space. Spurs managed their first attempt on goal of the game through Kazaiah Sterling after he picked up Tracey’s cross on the edge of the Chelsea box. The Spurs striker fired just over Bulka’s crossbar on the turn. Dutchman Daishawn Redan was being allowed too much space to run at the Spurs defence, the former Ajax mans pace was continuing to cause us problems, once such attacking foray forced Tanganga into making an important block inside the danger zone. Then in the 38th minute the referee made a bold and significant decision when he sent off the Spurs captain Christian Maghoma, after he picked up his second yellow card of the game.
Redan had gotten Maghoma sent off after he had managed to get in front of the Spurs defender after latching on to a through ball. Maghoma kept up with Redan well, before the Dutchman fell emphatically to the floor after Maghoma had made the most minimal if any contact on his man (I was sat right behind the goal!). Quelch produced his red card almost immediately afterwards and to Maghoma’s credit he didn’t even make a major fuss of what was a terrible refereeing decision. Maghoma had been our best player up until his sending off. Chelsea were looking to make the extra man count and soon after the dismissal of Spurs’ skipper they threatened the Spurs goal through St.Clair. The Scotsman cut inside before firing an effort straight at Austin in the Spurs goal, before whipping a delightful cross into the danger zone moments later, which was only narrowly missed by the outstretched boot of Redan. Chelsea hogged possession for the remainder of the half, McCormick’s overly ambitious bicycle kick would be the last significant action of the half. Spurs had the first chance of the second half when Keanan Bennetts cut inside from the left before curling a low effort towards goal, which was only just kept out by the diving Bulka. McCormick had two attempts on goal for Chelsea at the other end, the first being a speculative effort from long range. The second being a sliced effort which he hit following St.Clair’s lay off. Chelsea were continuing to threaten, Redan had an effort deflected narrowly wide after getting on the end of Castillo’s cross. Substitute Reece James then whipped a dangerous ball across the face of the Spurs goal, before St.Clair threatened once again when he bent an effort inches wide of the mark.
Spurs were unable to get out of their own half, they were reluctant to run at the Chelsea defence and were also struggling to stop the blues down the channels. Something which Burnett wanted to address when he brought off Georgiou for Brown on the hour mark. In a rare Spurs attack, Tanganga powered a diving header towards the Chelsea goal after meeting Pritchard’s corner, but his effort was diverted wide by a Chelsea defender. Adrian Viveash’s side broke straight down the other end, but to Spurs’ rescue came makeshift centre half Oliver Skipp who made a key interception at the decisive moment. Tracey conceded a free kick in a dangerous position soon afterwards, but once again the Spurs wall was on hand to stop the ball. The Chelsea onslaught would continue through St.Clair who sent a dangerous corner kick into the penalty area. Despite Tottenham’s resilience the net would finally bulge, as Jordan Grant rose the highest to plant a header inside the far corner of Austin’s goal, 0-1. Burnett’s side had been excellent up until this point, now they had to get body’s forward to try and salvage something from the game. Keanan Bennetts seized the initiative as he burst forward straight from the restart, managing to win a promising free kick in the process. The dead ball specialist managed to curl the ball over the Chelsea wall and into the left hand corner of Bulka’s goal to give Spurs an unexpected leveller, 1-1. It was an excellent effort from Bennetts who did so well to get the ball over the Chelsea wall from just 20 yards out, it had been a brilliant response.
With the game back in the balance Chelsea looked to regain the lead, substitute Reece James’ attacking advance into the penalty area could well have achieved this, were it not for another decisive interception by Tanganga. A couple of moments later Spurs had another go at the Chelsea, Bennetts once again ran straight at the Chelsea defence and in doing so he managed to win a free kick in an identical position to the first. Unbelievably the 19 year old took the resulting free kick with aplomb and managed to outwit Bulka for the second time in the space of just five minutes, with another excellent attempt. Curling a deceptive effort around the Chelsea wall and into the bottom left hand corner of the Poles goal to send the away end into dream land! Now Spurs had to guard their lead against a potent and aggressive Chelsea front line, for the remaining 16 minutes. Brandon Austin had to be alert to make a good stop soon afterwards, as Chelsea began to really pile the pressure on the Spurs defence. The dangerous St.Clair bent another dangerous effort narrowly wide, as the blues continued to push for a late leveller. Spurs were staying deep but the pressure was mounting from the home side, St.Clair’s brilliant cross field pass managed to pick out McCormick whose first time delivery into the danger zone was met by Redan. The Dutchman smashing an effort inches over the Spurs crossbar, the Chelsea players fervently claimed a touch from Austin on the way over. Burnett had instructed his side to wind down the clock, and they were doing a great job of it. Some good hold up play was coming from the potent Bennetts whose skill and athleticism made it hard to for the Chelsea players to win the ball back, on one such occasion he was hacked viciously by a Chelsea player as he guarded the ball.
Spurs did tremendously well to see out what was an anxious remaining ten minutes, to record one of their finest wins of the campaign. They defended magnificently, counter attacked Chelsea at the decisive moment and managed to show the maturity of a senior side to see out the game, with just ten men. It was an absolute pleasure to witness such a hearty Spurs display first hand, this means we can well and truly relax when we take on Man City in our final league game of the season next month, with safety rubber stamped for another campaign! COYS
Player reviews : – Brandon Austin: A solid all round performance from the 19 year old in between the sticks. Austin was flawless, excellent at dealing with aerial balls, the US youth international also managed to make a string of fine stops against the club that released him as a youngster.
– TJ Eyoma: Another player who didn’t put a foot wrong. Eyoma was rock solid down the right channel. He defended with class and let little in the way of openings for the Chelsea wingers to exploit, he was also dominant in the air. Fine showing!
– Anthony Georgiou: A more defensive showing from the Cypriot international, who managed to keep up with the speedy Maddox down the left channel. He defended superbly and didn’t allow the Chelsea man with much space to run through.
– Oliver Skipp: The words magnificent and Skipp seem to go together all the time! A domineering figure in the central areas during the first half, the dismissal of Maghoma on half time forced Skipp into reverting to centre half. A position which he mastered throughout the second half. Skipp was so comfortable playing the ball out from the back, but it was his perfect timing and decision making which proved the most effective. I’d lost count at the amount of times that he managed to single handedly thwart the Chelsea attack. If ever there was a player that deserved to be going on the summer tour of the USA, it’s him!
– Christian Maghoma: Our best player of the game up until his wrongful dismissal on the stroke of half time. Maghoma dominated in and around the danger zone, leading the defence by example. He made many crucial interceptions. As for his two bookings which may cost him his place in the side for the Man City game, well I’m not even going to go there!
– Japhet Tanganga: A defensive performance of real stature, Tanganga managed to marshal the Tottenham defence to perfection following the dismissal of Maghoma. He managed to maintain excellent positioning throughout and this led to him making many heroic challenges. Dominant in the air, Tanganga’s performance was not too unlike Vincent Kompany’s majestic performance against our first team on Saturday.
– Shilow Tracey: Despite having his offensive capabilities hampered somewhat by the Chelsea defence, Tracey made up for his lack of openings by tracking back and working exceptionally hard for the team, running back and getting involved with our defence. I desperately hope to see Tracey retained for next season, as he thoroughly deserves it.
– Tashan Oakley-Boothe: A tidy and competent performance from the 18 year old midfielder. Oakley-Boothe managed to keep the ball well and use it resourcefully. It was a well rounded performance from the England youth international.
– Kazaiah Sterling: A workman like performance from the Tottenham striker who despite his limited service up top, still managed to make a positive contribution to the game through his hard work and grit. Sterling was rewarded with a surprise inclusion on the bench for the Manchester City game the next day.
– Joe Pritchard: Dominant and effective midfield showing, maintained a ridiculously high work rate throughout. Helping to break up possession and get forwards whenever possible.
– Keanan Bennetts: My motm, see below.
– Jaden Brown: Good half an hour cameo, he managed to strengthen the Spurs defence.
– Dylan Duncan: N/A.
– Samuel Shashoua: N/A.
My man of the match: Keanan Bennetts. The speedy winger took the game into his own hands, his individual brilliance and attacking initiative changing the outcome of the game. Of the three on target attempts that Spurs managed to muster throughout the game, all three managed to come from Bennetts. The 19 year old won us the game through his attacking prowess. Not once but twice did his hopeful attacking forays lead to us winning free kicks in dangerous positions. Both of which were despatched with real class from the Spurs wide man. He was the only player brave enough to run at the Chelsea defence, his pace and trickery managing to cause the blues problems. His brace makes it seven goals from 21 PL2 performances for the Spurs man this season! I would be surprised not to see him make the bench for the seniors during the last couple of league games!
Chelsea: Bulka, Sterling, Chalobah, Grant, Castillo, Sammut (c, James 54), Maddox (Hudson-Odoi 54), McCormick, Redan, Colkett, St Clair. Substitutes (not used): Cumming, Colley, Nartey.
Spurs: Austin, Eyoma, Georgiou (Brown 61), Skipp, C Maghoma (c), Tanganga, Tracey, Oakley-Boothe, Sterling (S Shashoua 90+2), Pritchard (Duncan 82), Bennetts. Substitutes (not used): Whiteman, Roles.
Goals: Chelsea – Grant 66; Spurs – Bennetts 68, 74.
Yellow cards: Chelsea – Sterling 37, McCormick 67, Grant 73; Spurs – Eyoma 16, C Maghoma 26, 39.
Red card: Spurs – C Maghoma 39.
Referee: Adrian Quelch.
U23’s 2017/18 statistics: Top scorers: Sterling-11