Spurs under 23’s 1-1 Liverpool: (match report)
It was a performance of great maturity from our under 23’s on Friday evening at Anfield. As Wayne Burnett’s young side battled back from a goal down to grind out an impressive 1-1 draw against Liverpool in the PL2, in front of a crowd of over 3000. To say I was proud of how our lads performed would be an understatement, they were phenomenal throughout the game. A young Spurs side which was missing key players such as Shilow Tracey and Samuel Shashoua through injury. Burnett was forced into fielding some of our under 18’s, with Paris Maghoma (17) and Troy Parrott (16) making the step up for the PL2 encounter with Liverpool. After being reduced to ten men inside the opening two minutes of the game after Japhet Tanganga was dismissed for blocking a goalscoring chance with his hand in the Tottenham box. Spurs looked disheveled as Liverpool’s Adam Lewis prepared to take the resulting spot kick. Fortunately for Spurs the fullback blasted the ball over Alfie Whiteman’s crossbar. Spurs were forced to reshape and quickly dropped significantly deeper, with the likes of Shayon Harrison forced into playing as a defensive midfielder. However, Neil Critchley’s Liverpool side took the lead on 14 minutes through Bobby Adekanye in controversial circumstances. Burnett’s extremely defensive team fought back however, and after weathering the storm for nine minutes they drew level through Marcus Edwards. After the winger had been found by a superb long pass by Parrott who did some great initial work to control the ball in the centre of the park. Critchley’s Liverpool side enjoyed 70% of the possession during the game, managing to have 23 attempts on goal. The most extraordinary and spirited of defensive performance from the young Lilywhites however, managed to somehow prevent Liverpool from regaining the lead despite having them having the advantage of an extra man.
Everyone single one of our lads threw their bodies on the line for the team, defending like veterans. They were mature and resistant to Liverpool’s typically explosive attacking football as Burnett’s excellent young side held on to record a hugely important point up at Anfield, as I watched on with great pride from the Kop. After suffering defeat to West Ham in their opening league game of the season Wayne Burnett opted to stick with the same 4-2-3-1 formation but with a number of changes in the starting eleven. Spurs lined up with Alfie Whiteman in goal, with a back four of Hinds, Eyoma, Tanganga and Brown. In front of them stood the midfield pairing of George Marsh and young Paris Maghoma. Whilst an attacking trio of Marcus Edwards, Shayon Harrison and Anthony Georgiou lined up behind 16 year old centre forward Troy Parrott who made his first start at this level. Spurs got the game underway on a cool summers evening at Anfield, but it was Critchley’s side who started the better. Immediately putting our defence under pressure with their high pressing, the lively Glen McAuley forced Whiteman into making a sloppy pass early on. After aggressively pressing the Tottenham keeper as he attempted to play it out from the back, Whiteman ended up passing the ball straight into the feet of Liverpool’s Curtis Jones on the edge of the penalty area. The wide man picked the ball up before surging forwards and hitting a powerful low effort at goal, which was well saved by Whiteman who got down at his near post to tip the ball behind for a corner kick. The resulting corner kick was whipped dangerously into the box as Parrott cleared it out to Jones on the left wing. The winger whipped the ball back into the danger zone as Whiteman came out to claim the ball. Unfortunately, the 19 year old spilled the ball as McAuley pounced to fire the ball towards the empty net, with Tanganga blocking it on the line. Unfortunately for Tanganga the referee was already reaching for his back pocket as he sent the young defender off for an adjudged handball on the line as he awarded the reds an early penalty.
After a devastating opening couple of minutes Alfie Whiteman had to try and prevent the penalty taker Adrian Lewis from opening the scoring. Fortunately for Burnett’s side the fullbacks wild effort went high and wide of the goal as Spurs survived a chaotic opening three minutes. Burnett’s lads were forced into reshaping, with the team reverting to an ultra defensive 4-4-1 formation as the skipper George Marsh filled in at centre half alongside Eyoma. Whilst Georgiou and Edwards were now effectively wingbacks who’s job was to protect the fullbacks. Attacking midfielder Shayon Harrison dropped into the centre of the park with Maghoma where he would effectively hold a defensive midfield role for the remainder of the game. After an awful start to the game Spurs then found themselves on the back of a dangerous Liverpool counter attack as Christie-Davies fed a lovely through ball into Adekanye out on the right wing. The Dutchman sprinted all the way into the Tottenham penalty area before firing his low effort inches wide of Whiteman’s goal. We looked vulnerable every time the home team went on the offensive. It had been a tough start to the game for our goalkeeper Alfie Whiteman who was continuing to put his defence under pressure with sloppy passes out from the back. Passing the ball about with ease as they attempted to break the deadlock, Neil Critchley’s side were looking increasingly dangerous by each passing minute. A well worked move from the reds saw McAuley and Adekanye combine well inside the box before the latter curled the ball narrowly over the top of the Spurs goal. Zipping the ball about with an air of confidence about their game it always seemed only a matter of time before our defence would crumble. And Critchley’s side made that all important breakthrough on 14 minutes when the potent Bobby Adekanye gave Liverpool the lead.
The ball was worked out to the winger on the right side of the penalty area, but just as Adekanye received the ball the linesman on the near side raised his flag. Many of the Spurs defenders froze thinking that Adekanye had been ruled offside. This caused great confusion in the Spurs team as Adekanye cut inside Eyoma in the box before rifling an effort at goal. The wingers low effort ended up outwitting Whiteman as it took a heavy deflection off of Marsh before nestling inside the bottom left hand corner of the Tottenham keepers goal, 0-1. Lead by the captain George Marsh the Spurs players crowed around the referee as he went to consult the linesman about the goal. Marsh was furious with the referee as he preceded to award the goal and the Tottenham captain was right to feel aggrieved with the referee. It had been a disastrous start all round for Burnett’s side. The reorganised Spurs defence now had to deal with an attacking onslaught from the reds. Centre half TJ Eyoma was forced into making a vital headed clearance inside the penalty area as Critchley’s side went in search of their second goal of the game. 20 minutes had past and as expected Liverpool were enjoying the lions share of possession, passing the ball around for fun as every Spurs player stayed back in their own half to try and prevent the home team from extending their advantage. Despite a few decent attacking forays from Marcus Edwards down the right wing, Spurs had offered nothing going forward and had yet to register a single attempt on goal. Our defence was under great pressure every time Liverpool entered our final third. Critchley’s side came close to doubling their advantage when Christie-Davies slipped the ball through to Adekanye inside the Tottenham penalty area. However, the alert Jaden Brown managed to read the situation well and was able to get in front of the Dutchman before making a superb sliding challenge to put the ball out for a corner kick.
We were defending superbly under the circumstances but our passing it out from the back was putting unnecessary pressure on the defenders as Whiteman’s distribution was often sloppy and inaccurate. A moment of magic from the centre forward Troy Parrott managed to create a totally unexpected leveller for Spurs on 23 minutes. Our equaliser which was against the run of play had managed to catch the Liverpool defence by total surprise. Brown’s long pass up to Parrott on the halfway line was excellently contested by the Irishman who was able to hold off two Liverpool defenders before controlling the ball with a sublime first touch. The centre forward immediately looked up to spot Edwards galavanting down the right flank, as Parrott managed to curl a lovely pass out to Edwards. The winger took on the Liverpool fullback Adam Lewis as he continued into the penalty area before turning Lewis as he rolled the ball away from him effortlessly and onto his right foot, before firing the ball past Kelleher who did manage to make contact with the ball, and into the far corner of the goal, 1-1. It was an excellently taken goal by Edwards and an absolute peach of a pass from Parrott to pick him out in the first place. Shortly after the restart the impressive Anthony Georgiou gave away a dangerous free kick on the edge of the penalty area after holding back Virtue-Thick. However, the referee felt it was necessary to take it further by handing out a harsh yellow card to the Cypriot international. Virtue-Thick’s powerful delivery into the box was headed away by Brown who recovered before making another important block to stop Adekanye’s cross a couple of moments later. Liverpool were continuing to pile on the pressure as the half progressed with the makeshift Spurs defence continuing to work their socks off in order to make it as difficult as possible for the Liverpool forwards.
TJ Eyoma had really stepped up since Tanganga’s early dismissal and the young centre half was demonstrating his aerial prowess as shown when he managed to divert Lewis’ dangerous cross away from danger. Continuing to press us aggressively Liverpool were coming closer and closer to regaining the lead. After makeshift midfielder Shayon Harrison gave the ball away to Adekanye the Dutchman quickly passed the ball to McAuley who laid it off to Christie-Davies, but the midfielders powerful low effort was held well by Whiteman in the Spurs goal. A flurry of chances continued to come Liverpool’s way. After Eyoma gave away a free kick on the edge of the penalty area, Adam Lewis’s resulting curler flew a whisker wide of Whiteman’s left hand post. A rare attacking move from Spurs at the other end ended in Jaden Brown seeing his cross into the danger zone cleared to safety by a Liverpool defender. A player who was holding his own in the centre of the park was the young Paris Maghoma and the midfielder did well to try and break down a dangerous looking attacking by the reds as he pulled back Jones who was sprinting dangerously through the middle. The referee waived play on as Jones shifted the ball out to Adekanye on the left side of the penalty area. The former Barcelona youngsters effort across goal flew narrowly wide of the mark as Spurs escaped once more. The referee then went back to Maghoma to give him a yellow card for his pull on Jones. An overhit back pass from Eyoma a couple of minutes later was the last thing Whiteman wanted to deal with, as the young goalkeeper stuck out a leg to make a vital block to steer the ball away from goal. An excellent block from Marsh on Adekanye in the box followed as Spurs continued to defend well. Burnett’s sides heroic first half performance ensured that Spurs went into the break level. The likes of Parrott whose defensive contribution was immense, Edwards and Harrison had all had unbelievable half’s.
Liverpool got the second half underway as they attacked the Kop end and it didn’t take Critchley’s side long before they found their feet again. Adekanye’s menacing cross into the danger zone was bravely defended by Brown who had managed to get to the ball in front of McAuley at the back post to head it clear. We were effectively playing with ten men behind the ball as the likes of Parrott and Harrison took it upon themselves to be combative defensive players as Liverpool upped their pace. After Georgiou had conceded a free kick on the edge of the penalty area after a foul on Adekanye. Adam Lewis’s resulting curling effort was well headed away by Brown inside the danger zone. Liverpool almost regained their lead a couple of minutes later through the ever threatening Bobby Adekanye. After bringing the ball forwards Jones laid the ball off to Adekanye down the right side of the penalty area. Adekanye managed to trick his way around Brown before firing the ball across goal, with Marsh there to get a vital flick on it to divert it out for a Liverpool corner. It was a heroic block from the skipper! The game was incredibly fast paced and one had to wonder how long our lads could keep up this most heroic of defensive performances for. Curtis Jones curled an effort well wide of goal from long range whilst Paris Maghoma won a free kick in a promising position at the other end of the pitch. Electing to take it himself Maghoma’s resulting delivery into the box went out for a goal kick. Anthony Georgiou had been exceptional throughout the second half and his excellent last ditch defending and searing pace was protecting Jaden Brown who stood behind him. The left wing back made a crucial block to prevent Whelan from whipping the ball into the danger zone. TJ Eyoma made a similarly important block when he was able to get in front of Whelan’s cross a couple of moments later.
The lively Curtis Jones was then gifted the ball by Maghoma before the winger tested Whiteman with a low drive from range which was easily gathered by the Tottenham goalkeeper, it was all Liverpool! Despite being under the cosh for the entirety of the second half Spurs had a rare golden chance which presented them with the opportunity to take the lead for the first time in the game. After Whiteman’s long kick up field was chased down by the tigerish Troy Parrott, what should have been a routine piece of defending for Johnston ended up being anything but that. As the Irishman pressed his man aggressively forcing the Liverpool defender into making an error. With Parrott managing to win the ball off of him before poking it out to Edwards who remained free out on the right wing. Edwards picked up the loose ball before surging into the penalty area. One on one with Kelleher you would have have expected Edwards to add to his account. However, the 19 year old tried to be to fancy with the ball and his eventual effort was low and weak, and was saved comfortably by the feet of Kelleher. It should have been 2-1 to Spurs. The ever impressive impressive Anthony Georgiou had helped to quell the threat of the speedy Bobby Adekanye in the second half. The Londoner was there again to make a brilliant interception off the Dutchman inside the penalty area. Troy Parrott then made a vital headed clearance at the back post as Liverpool upped their intensity as we reached the final stages of the game. Maghoma blazed over from range at the other end in a rare attempt at goal for Spurs. A well worked move from the Lilywhites followed as Harrison picked out Parrott with a long pass. The Dubliner controlled the ball before rolling it into the feet of Georgiou who zoomed across the penalty area before passing the ball to Edwards out on the right wing.
Edwards managed to trick his way into the penalty area before being brought down by Johnston who made an excellent crunching challenge to break up the attack. Roared on by the Kop, Liverpool were trying desperately hard to breakthrough the brick wall that was the Tottenham defence. Paris Maghoma made a hugely important block to stop Curtis Jones’s powerful shot on the edge of the penalty area. Burnett then made defensive reinforcements when he brought on Jonathan Dinzeyi for Jaden Brown four minutes before the end as Spurs continued to defend impeccably. However, a late pass over the top of Dinzeyi temporarily paralysed the Spurs defence as it allowed Adekanye to run through on goal with only Alfie Whiteman to beat. Fortunately for Spurs Whiteman had closed the winger down well and was able to make an important save to stop Adekanye’s low effort as Paris Maghoma applauded the Tottenham goalkeeper. Tottenham had to deal with another dangerous Liverpool attack a couple of moments later, as some brilliant goal line defending by Marsh saw him snuff out Adekanye’s dangerous effort across the face of goal. Marsh had managing to clear the ball just before McAuley could convert from close range. Burnett’s side were given another scare a couple of minutes later as Johnston fired the ball narrowly over the crossbar, after picking up the ball inside the Tottenham penalty area. Burnett brought Dylan Duncan on for Marcus Edwards as we entered stoppage time. It would take the 19 year old less then a minute to go into the referees book after committing a cynical foul on a Liverpool player. A late defensive blunder from Dinzeyi after he failed to deal with Jones’s cross into the box, allowed Virtue-Thick with an opportunity to get a shot away from close range. Fortunately for Dinzeyi the midfielders poorly struck effort ended up going straight down the throat of Whiteman who easily gathered it. Corey Whelan’s menacing cross drew a late gasp from the Kop as it flew agonisingly across the Spurs goal in the dying seconds of the game.
Thankfully the referee blew for the final whistle immediately after that chance and almost every Spurs players collapsed to the floor. They were exhausted, and after putting in the performance that they did it was unsurprising. To have to deal with having a man sent off at Anfield in the opening minutes of a game against a fast attacking team almost certainly spells defeat. However, Burnett’s young side were resilient and mature. They didn’t panic, they reorganised themselves well and were disciplined in defence. I was immensely proud of the whole teams performance against Liverpool on Friday. They fought like warriors under such difficult circumstances, the likes of Parrott, Marsh and Georgiou were excellent but for me the whole team was just superb. Hopefully Burnett’s side can go a step further in our next league game against Brighton on Friday by registering their first win of the campaign.
Player reviews: – Alfie Whiteman: After a difficult start to the game for Whiteman, which saw him contribute to Spurs giving away an early penalty after committing a bit of a blunder inside the box. Whiteman responded well and apart from his nervy looking distribution in the early stages of the game the 19 year old put in an excellent performance in the second half. Making a string of crucial saves in front of the Kop end, the one that stood out the most was his stop to deny Adekanye one on one towards the end of the game. Whiteman showed great character throughout the game.
– Tariq Hinds: It was another really mature performance from the 18 year old fullback on Friday. Following Tanganga’s sending off, Hinds never looked out of place whilst defending against Curtis Jones out on the right wing. He stayed deep and protected that side of the pitch with some really effective and tidy defending.
– Japhet Tanganga: After his early dismissal it would be unfair to review Tanganga’s short time on the pitch. He will miss our next game against Brighton on Friday.
– TJ Eyoma: Eyoma rose to the occasion following the dismissal of his fellow centre back in the second minute of the game. Forming a tenacious partnership with makeshift centre half George Marsh. Eyoma was flawless against Liverpool, he was excellent in the air and tight in his defending of the Liverpool forwards. He was astute and cautious, but not once did he allow the likes of McAuley to get into space inside the danger zone. Eyoma was also composed under pressure.
– Jaden Brown: It was Brown’s first appearance of the season for Burnett’s side following his unsuccessful trial with Dutch club NEC Nijmegen earlier on in the summer. I thought Brown had an excellent game at left back on Friday evening. He was up against a really tricky customer in Adekanye, and whilst he was helped out by Georgiou on that side. Brown defended superbly, making many important last ditch challenges, blocks and clearances in the box. He put in an extremely brave performance against the reds. Brown also played his part in our goal, with a long pass upfield to Parrott.
– George Marsh: A leader of men. George Marsh started off in the centre of the park alongside Maghoma, but Tanganga’s early sending off saw the skipper take Tanganga’s place at centre back. Marsh marshalled the backline to perfection, it was a really heroic performance from the 19 year old. Marsh threw himself in front of danger, I lost count at the amount of blocks and superb goal line clearances that he made. He was terrific!
– Paris Maghoma: I was extremely pleased to see the 17 year old in the starting lineup for the Liverpool game. Favoured by Burnett over the older and more experienced duo of Dylan Duncan and Jack Roles. The second year scholar lined up alongside Marsh in the centre of midfield. A box to box midfielder with a lot of attacking qualities, any license that he had had to go forward was extinguished once Tanganga was sent off. From then on he was essentially a defensive midfielder whose job was to protect the back four alongside Harrison who dropped back. Maghoma was extremely well disciplined and played his part in helping Spurs to come away with a point, making some important blocks in the process. There was one moment in the game where his maturity really showed. Whilst Spurs were defending a dangerous free kick on the edge of the penalty area, Maghoma took it upon him to order the wall as the defenders kept quiet. He was roaring at Whiteman as he barked instructions to his teammates. Hopefully Maghoma will start our next game against Brighton on Friday.
– Marcus Edwards: Another player who had an excellent game, the skilful Marcus Edwards put in a superb shift out on the right wing. Whilst his attacking freedom was limited from early on in the game, he provided Spurs with their main attacking outlet. As he went on some really impressive attacking forays down that side of the pitch. Edwards hard work at tracking back was equally as impressive. Everything about his excellently taken goal was just sublime, and the 19 year old may feel that he should have scored another in the second half after receiving the ball in a similar position.
– Shayon Harrison: Starting off as a number ten, Harrison was quickly reassigned to the unfamiliar role of central midfield. I was extremely impressed with the way that Harrison adapted to that defensive midfield role. He worked ridiculously hard throughout the entirety of the game, he worked as a shield to the defence and broke up play so effectively. Harrison’s numerous interceptions and blocks in and around the six yard box didn’t go unnoticed either.
– Anthony Georgiou: To say that Georgiou had an excellent game would be an understatement. The Cypriot internationals performance against Liverpool on Friday was immense. Despite starting out on the left wing, Anthony was soon forced into playing as a left wing back in front of Brown. He embraced that role with both hands and put in a heroic defensive performance. He helped Brown out massively whilst defending against the speedy Adekanye. He made some excellent tackles in and around the danger zone and was able to read the game and anticipate danger to perfection throughout the PL2 contest. Georgiou helped Spurs to counter attack Liverpool with some excellent lung bursting runs down that left hand side. He didn’t put a foot wrong and he demonstrated to the Tottenham coaching staff just how brilliant and effective a wing back he is. I was extremely proud with the 21 year olds performance.
– Troy Parrott: My motm, see below.
– Jonathan Dinzeyi: Fleeting eleven minute cameo from Dinzeyi who added steel to the Tottenham defence for the closing minutes of the game.
– Dylan Duncan: Fleeting cameo.
My man of the match: Troy Parrott. Most 16 year olds could only ever dream of playing at Anfield, but not young Troy. He not only lead the line for Spurs on his first PL2 appearance but he put in a performance which spoke volumes as to how ridiculously talented a centre forward the young Irishman is. The Dubliner put in a phenomenal performance against Liverpool, he lead the line to perfection and created Spurs’ only two key chances out of nothing. He held up the ball really well and moved around the park like a young Robbie Keane. However, it was the tigerish Parrott’s hunger and determination which stood out above all else. His ability to make such mature decisions was mightily impressive as was his combative defending in front of the back four. The strikers high pressing unsettled the Liverpool defence and forced them into making errors. However, the many blocks and clearances he made inside his own penalty area spoke volumes about what kind of player he is. Think Harry Kane!
Liverpool: Kelleher, Whelan (c), Lewis, Phillips, Johnston, Chirivella, Adekanye, Christie-Davies (Coyle 75), McAuley (Millar 65), Virtue, Jones. Substitutes (not used): Atherton, Gallacher, Masterson.
Spurs: Whiteman, Hinds, Brown (Dinzeyi 86), Marsh (c), Eyoma, Tanganga, Edwards (Duncan 90+1), Maghoma, Parrott, Harrison, Georgiou. Substitutes (not used): De Bie, Roles.
Goals: Liverpool – Adekanye 14; Spurs – Edwards 23.
Yellow cards: Spurs – Georgiou 26, Maghoma 39, Duncan 90+2.
Red card: Spurs – Tanganga 2.
Referee: J Johnson.
Venue: Anfield, Liverpool.
Spurs under 21/23’s statistics 2018/19:
Goals scored: Samuel Shashoua – 1
Marcus Edwards – 1
Assists: Troy Parrott – 1