Spurs under 23’s 4-2 Derby County: (match report)
Our under 23’s took a significant step in securing their division one status for next season with a thrilling 4-2 victory over Derby County at Hotspur Way on Saturday afternoon. It was a thrilling end to end game with chances a plenty at both ends, but it was Burnett’s resilient side who deserved all three points. After an excellent start which saw Spurs get two early goals, Burnett’s side suffered a lack of concentration and soon afterwards they allowed Derby to pull a goal back. The rams drew level moments later making it all to play for once again. This is when the technically better Spurs side took their chance, knowing that they needed all three points, and a thunderbolt by Anthony Georgiou went along way to securing that on the half hour mark. An equally as thrilling and captivating second half ensued, but it was the battle like nature of Spurs who were led by players such as Pritchard and Maghoma (captain) that saw out the game. A late penalty kick for Kazaiah Sterling managing to secure all three points for Spurs in what was a precious victory for Burnett’s men. That win sees Spurs move above Derby and into ninth place in the table, but most importantly of all it puts Spurs four points clear of the relegation zone. Meaning that a win against Chelsea in our next PL2 fixture would ensure our division 1 status. For the second consecutive game Spurs defender TJ Eyoma would come up against his older brother Aaron who is on trial with Derby from Arsenal who we faced last time round. Soon after walking on to the pitch both sets of players posed for a team photograph in front of a kick it out flag. Burnett’s side got the game underway at a blustery Hotspur Way for the lunchtime PL2 fixture.
After a fast paced start to proceedings there was one player who would be heavily involved in the opening stages of the game. Moments after almost getting Spurs into trouble with a misplaced pass across the Spurs defence, Joe Pritchard was almost the hero at the other end with a sublime solo effort. It was so nearly a sumptuous goal for the midfielder, who with shades of Gazza 96 saw him knock the ball over the head of Aaron Eyoma before connecting with a low volley on the edge of the Derby penalty area. His well executed effort came bouncing off the bottom of the post. The fast pace of the game continued to develop, some impressive aerial goalkeeping from Alfie Whiteman in the Spurs goal caught the eye. But it was the lilywhites who were creating the more potent chances in front of goal, and with just nine minutes on the clock it was Burnett’s side who took the lead, albeit with a little help from the Derby goalkeeper. The goal came via a huge slice of luck for Burnett’s side, Lee Buchanan’s seemingly routine back pass to the rams goalkeeper Barnes caught him by surprise. Sterling’s aggressive pressing influenced Barnes, who completely missed the ball as it rolled towards the goal line. The Derby goalkeeper tried frantically to get to the ball but just as it was about to squirm over the line he took a wild swing in an attempt to clear the ball, but it ended up flying right into to the back of the Spurs net, 1-0. Spurs capitalised on the rams absolute howler of an own goal and managed to double their lead a mere three minutes afterwards. A fast attacking foray from the lively Keanan Bennetts down the left flank saw the wide man slip Pritchard in down the left side of the penalty area. Still with all to do, Pritchard managed to do extremely well to clip the ball inside the far corner of Barnes’ goal from such an acute angle, 2-0. The Spurs players rushed over to congratulate the attacking midfielder.
A far too common theme in Spurs’ season had been conceding straight after taking the lead, and unfortunately that trend continued when the rams pulled a goal back through Cameron Cresswell less than four minutes after Pritchard’s goal. It was a sloppy goal to concede from Burnett’s side who allowed captain Alex Babos to drive the ball into the Spurs box. It was like pinball inside the area, Maghoma went to clear but ended up steering the ball into the feet of Cresswell who calmly slotted the ball past Whiteman from close range. Spurs were now the team who found themselves under pressure. Things then got even worse for Spurs when Cresswell found the net for the second time in the space of two minutes. Spurs had been caught napping at the back, the tricky Aaron Eyoma managing to jink forward before threading a nice through ball to Cresswell down the right side of the penalty area. The Derby striker clinically drove the ball home to make it 2-2. It was hard to believe that Spurs had been leading 2-0 just a couple of minutes before hands, in total control of the game. Now they appeared to be like a totally different side who were simply unable to contain the rams. More chances came Derby’s way, left back Louie Sibley was allowed to advance forward unchallenged down the left hand side. Before squaring the ball for Jason Knight inside the box, the Irishman’s first time effort was blocked on the line by Anthony Georgiou. Despite allowing Derby to have a way back into the game, Spurs seemed to have regained their composure on the ball and were looking to play fluid attacking football once more. A further slice of luck came Spurs’ way when they regained the lead through Anthony Georgiou’s 25 yard thunderbolt shortly after the half hour mark.
After picking up Pritchard’s pass Georgiou decided to try his luck from range and unleashed a fizzing effort at Barnes’ goal. The ball took a significant deflection off a Derby player before flying into the bottom right hand corner of the goal, it was a howitzer nonetheless, 3-2. Sterling had a penalty claim waived away soon afterwards as Spurs looked to reestablish their authority on the game. Yet danger was never far away and the Spurs players would have been incredibly relieved that referee Sam Purkiss didn’t spot George Marsh’s blatant handball after trying but eventually failing to head clear Max Birds corner kick. Wassall’s side managed to cause the Spurs defence some problems in the final stages of the half. Anthony Georgiou was forced into making a terrific interception on the edge of the Tottenham box. Whilst soon afterwards Alfie Whiteman was called into action. It was a long ball upfield which caused problems for Spurs, Tanganga ended up slipping in the area after attempting to clear. The ball came the way of Knight whose instinctive outside of the boot effort was stopped spectacularly by Whiteman from close range, with an important diving save to tip it wide of the mark. The visitors got the second half back underway and it started pretty evenly. And it was the visitors who would have the first meaningful chance of the half, the dangerous Eyoma was once again allowed to surge down the right hand channel. Eyoma travelled towards the byline before whipping a dangerous ball across the face of Whiteman’s goal, but somehow Babos couldn’t connect with it at the far post. Once again Spurs were let off the hook.
Derby had started the half well and were keeping up their high tempo, the decisive Japhet Tanganga made an important sliding challenge to prevent an opening for Cresswell a couple of minutes later. It was evident that the rams were really going for the game and they didn’t care about leaving gaps at the back in order to do so. Bird fired an effort well wide as Burnett’s side struggled to get a foothold on the game. Keanan Bennetts saw his free kick go straight down the throat of Barnes, I was growing anxious at the amount of times Derby were managing to break past our defence. The bombardment of Whiteman’s goal continued, Babos volleyed the ball across goal at the back post. Pritchard had blocked the same man’s effort a couple of moments later, after Maghoma had conceded a free kick on the edge of the box. Whiteman was then forced in to saving Jason Knight’s well struck volley. After a spell of great pressure, Burnett’s side managed to find it in them to respond, and respond they did! Spurs had come a fraction away from extending their lead courtesy of a terrific long range effort from the tireless Shilow Tracey. Tracey had the audacity to cut in on to his right foot from over 25 yards out from goal. Before unleashing a powerful curler of an effort which had totally deceived Barnes, as it dipped on to the inside of his near post before bouncing wide. so, so close! Tracey came desperately close to opening his account once more, after he tested Barnes for the second time in under two minutes.
After receiving the ball on the right wing Tracey decided to sprint forward, managing to skin his man before powering an effort at the Derby goal which managed to squirm under Barnes. Before being cleared on the line by the Derby goalkeeper who somehow managed to sprint back. Aaron Eyoma was causing more problems inside the Spurs half, after squaring agonisingly across the face of the goal. And the Derby trialist was gifted a chance a couple of moments later, when Tanganga sloppily gave the ball straight to the winger. Eyoma powered forward before firing a low deflected effort inches wide of the Spurs goal. Reo Griffiths came on in place of Bennetts as Burnett looked to add fresh legs to his side as a frantic final ten minutes ensued. Chances came and went at both ends, Bird sent his header straight in to the arms of Whiteman. Spurs made another replacement when they brought key man Joe Pritchard off in place of Duncan, Spurs coach Paul Bracewell tapped the influential Spurs man on the shoulder as he made his way across to the bench. The temporary assistant (I think?) John McDermott cried to Shilow ”we need a fourth goal from you” as Spurs fought desperately hard to see out the remainder of the game. It was evident that Burnett had ordered his side to close down the rams who were not giving up of a late goal but it just wasn’t in Spurs’ attacking style to play that way. Whiteman produced another decent save after he clutched substitute Lewis Walkers volley, after connecting sweetly with Birds cross. Then there was a heart in mouth moment for Burnett’s side after a late corner kick found its way to Knight at the far post. The Irishman’s resulting volley flew narrowly wide much to the relief of the Spurs defence.
There was to be a further late twist in the game when Spurs were awarded a penalty in the third minute of additional time. After latching on to George Marsh’s hopeful long ball inside the penalty area, Kazaiah Sterling was taken clean out by Lee Buchanan, who got his sliding challenge all wrong. Sterling kept his composure as he made his way to the spot, giving Barnes the eyes before cooly slotting the other way, 4-2. There was a bit of an altercation on the final whistle between Christian Maghoma and Louie Sibley after the latter had said something. Maghoma told him to walk away, but it wasn’t to matter as it was all smiles again soon afterwards. A precious, precious victory for Wayne Burnett’s side who are now all but safe from the threat of relegation with just two leagues games to go. It was an enthralling game to watch, and one in which demonstrated great resilience and fight from the Spurs players. Elsewhere our under 18’s defeated Fulham 2-1 at Motspur Park on Saturday morning with first goals of the season for Armando Shashoua and Troy Parrott. Up next for Burnett’s side is a visit to Stamford Bridge, to face Chelsea next Friday. COYS
Player reviews: – Alfie Whiteman: Enjoyed a solid game in the Spurs goal, looked assured throughout and had a fine all round game. Made a couple of really important saves, including a stunning one on the stroke of half time. Impressive stuff!
– TJ Eyoma: Not his finest performance in a Spurs shirt, Eyoma got done quite a lot down the left wing and his lack of pace didn’t help matters. I always feel as if he is much better suited to playing at centre half.
– Anthony Georgiou: Really impressive performance from the attacking full back who managed to combine decisive defending with well timed attacking runs down the left hand side. Made some really crucial blocks and interceptions. And not forgetting his excellent 25 yard screamer in the first half, that was his first goal of the campaign.
– George Marsh: Very effective in the centre of the park, bossed the midfield from start to finish and kept things moving. Made some really strong and important challenges. However, I can’t help but notice his unnecessary Bartonesque antics which he produces on a game to game basis, catching players in the face deliberately. Maybe it’s something that the Spurs coaches like, but I don’t see the necessity in winding players up. Great performance nonetheless!
– Christian Maghoma: A force to be reckoned with in the air, the skipper formed a typically solid partnership alongside Tanganga at centre half. He was assured and strong in every aspect of his game, his leadership and advice to team mates proved effective throughout. I greatly admire his attitude and great work ethic. Really helped us see out the game.
– Japhet Tanganga: Impressive performance, was in the right place at the right time and in doing so he managed to make some really important challenges. Like Maghoma he was excellent in the air.
– Shilow Tracey: After a fairly quiet first half, Tracey really came to life in the second half. Impacting the game profoundly with his numerous lung bursting runs down the right. He was direct and made things happen and on another day could easily have bagged a brace. Tracey is a player who has been absolutely exceptional in the second half of this season.
– Tashan Oakley-Boothe: A decent but seemingly ineffective performance in the centre of the park. Despite his obvious talents I can never work out what kind of player Oakley-Boothe is. He isn’t a steely ball winner and despite his great eye for a pass he rarely makes any ambitious passes. He was decent and tidy but nothing more. Possibly played to deep?
– Kazaiah Sterling: Aggressive and high pressing, Sterling lead the line well for Spurs. Despite his lack of chances, Sterling held up the ball well and did a good job in influencing play. Took his penalty really well.
– Joe Pritchard: My motm, see below.
– Keanan Bennetts: Enjoyed a lively game down the left, allowed Georgiou to overlap on occasions. Was skilful on the ball and impacted the game in the first half laying off a nice assist for Pritchard.
– Jade Brown: Good half an hour cameo, stayed deep and looked solid.
– Reo Griffiths: promising 15 minute cameo, got stuck in and went on some fruitful runs. Hopefully he’ll start the Chelsea game.
– Dylan Duncan: N/A
My man of the match: Joe Pritchard. It was a colossal match winning performance from the 21 year old attacking midfielder, Pritchard had an immense influence on proceedings. He provided nonstop energy, his movement across the pitch and particularly in and around the six yard box was top class. Scored an excellently taken goal in the first half and also managed to pick out Georgiou for our third. But it was the midfielders terrific work rate and eagerness to get stuck in and defend deep, but also make pitch perfect runs in and around the six yard box which won us the game. I am a big, big fan of Pritchard and he is a player who I think has been absolutely sensational all season. His versatility has proved invaluable for Burnett.
Spurs: Whiteman, Eyoma, Georgiou (Brown 62), Marsh, C Maghoma (c), Tanganga, Tracey, Oakley-Boothe, Sterling, Pritchard (Duncan 84), Bennetts (Griffiths 77). Substitutes (not used): Austin, Roles.
Derby County: Barnes, Bateman, Sibley, Bird, Wassall, Buchanan, Eyoma (Mitchell-Lawson 84), Babos (c), Cresswell, Wilson (Walker 72), Knight.
Substitutes (not used): Yates, Karic, Taylor.
Goals: Spurs – Buchanan (OG) 9, Pritchard 11, Georgiou 31, Sterling 90+3 (pen); Derby – Cresswell 16, 18.
Yellow cards: Spurs – Marsh 63, Tracey 69; Derby – Eyoma 62.
Referee: Sam Purkiss.
U23’s 2017/18 statistics: Top scorers: Sterling-11