Spurs under 19’s 1-1 Barcelona: (match report)

Spurs under 19’s 1-1 Barcelona: (match report)

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Our under 19’s put in a highly commendable performance against the holders of the UEFA youth league Barcelona, on Wednesday afternoon at Hotspur Way, as Matt Wells under 19 side earned their second point of the campaign. It was important that Spurs got something out of their second group stage game of the competition after drawing their opener against Inter Milan by the same score line in game week one. Not only did our talented pool of players hold their own against one of the planets finest youth side but they were also the much better side. Wells lads were sharper and showed a lot more of attacking intent with the ball. Enjoying 53% of the possession Spurs managed four attempts on goal in what was a fiercely contested game of European football against a compact Barça side. Wells side included the likes of TJ Eyoma, Tashan Oakley-Boothe whilst the visitors also had their fair share of hot prospects. Most notable of which was the inclusion of Spain under 19 international Abel Ruiz who led the line for Denis Silva Puig’s side. Whilst it could be argued that we weren’t clinical enough in front of goal for all the chances that we created, I felt extremely proud and unsurprised by the fact that our lads had essentially outplayed one of the best sides in this competition, in front of the many thousands of those who were watching on television. We controlled the game in both half’s and injected an energy into the the game which the Catalans couldn’t match. After conceding a slightly disappointing goal from a set piece after Joan Rojas Castilla headed home in the 24th minute. The young Lilywhites responded well to going a goal down and after putting pressure on the Barcelona defence, Wells side drew level on the stroke of half time, courtesy of an excellent turn and finish from 18 year old centre forward Rodel Richards. Both sides pushed for a winner in the second half but both sets of players lacked that cutting edge as Spurs ended the game with a highly respectable point, to ensure that they are still in a great position to qualify from the group ahead of their next game against PSV later this month. I would like to thank Spurs for allowing me to report on yesterday’s game from the press area, it was a most enjoyable experience.

Played only a couple of hours before our first teams mouth watering champions league game against Barcelona at Wembley, Matt Wells side took on Barça in front of a fairly big crowd at Hotspur Way. With many thousands more watching the game on television. Unsurprisingly Matt Wells fielded a strong but much changed side to the one which drew with Inter Milan in game week one. Opting to go for the 4-3-3 formation, Wells side included Brandon Austin in goal as the skipper. Whilst a back four of Hinds, Eyoma, Lyons-Foster and Brown sat in front of him. Three Spurs players started in the centre of the park, they were Maghoma, Bowden and Oakley-Boothe as the attacking trio of Markanday, Richards and Bennett led the line for Spurs. Meanwhile, the visitors lined up in the same attacking way as Spurs. The Lilywhites got the game underway against a compact Barcelona outfit at Hotspur Way and it was the home side who looked the sharper of the two sides during the opening stages. After Maghoma embarked on a promising early run through the middle, wide man J’Neil Bennett cleverly tricked his way past Jaime down the left wing (Jaime was wearing a particularly distinctive protective face mask). However, Bennett couldn’t get his cross in as Comas made the block. Spurs were seeing a lot more of the ball during the opening minutes. Right winger Dilan Markanday went on a jinking run across the face of the Barcelona box before shifting the ball out to Bennett on the left. The 16 year old tested Arnau Urena Tenas with a powerful low effort which the Barcelona keeper spilled. Rodel Richards pounced on the loose ball before tapping home, but he was adjudged to have been offside by the linesman on the far side. Jamie Bowden then had a shot blocked by Comas after receiving a pass from Markanday on the edge of the penalty area as Spurs continued to hog possession. Jaden Brown then made an important interception at the other end to prevent De La Fuente from going  through on goal.

However, it was all Spurs and the one player who was really asking questions of the Barcelona defence was J’Neil Bennett. After latching onto TJ Eyoma’s pass down the left flank the forward sped past Jaime before seeing his shot blocked by Barcelona centre half Feixas Comas inside the box. Brooklyn Lyons-Foster glanced Paris Maghoma’s resulting corner kick across the face of the goal as Bennett raced to pick it up on the left wing before being fouled out wide. Paris Maghoma elected to take the following free kick however, his over hit delivery went out for a goal kick for Barcelona. Spurs continued to threaten Silva Puig’s side and they were dominating possession. After Jamie Bowden had cleared a Barcelona corner kick away from danger, Bennett picked up the ball out on the left wing before racing past Jaime before squaring the ball for Richards who had made a run into the box. The centre forward took a touch before he turned his man inside the penalty area before bending an effort a fraction wide of Tenas’ goal. J’Neil Bennett couldn’t believe that his team mate hadn’t put away the chance. Jaden Brown made an excellent block on Ruiz’s shot at the other end after Barça had caught us on the break. The Catalans were starting to grow into the game and it didn’t take them long before they managed to catch Wells side out. It was a frustrating goal to concede from Spurs’ point of view and a needless one at that. After Jaden Brown had given away a free kick on the right flank for a foul on Alex Collado, Jaime whipped an inviting ball into the penalty area as Austin opted not to come out to punch. Rojas Castilla rose the highest of anybody in the box to power the ball past Austin and into the back of the net, 0-1. Lyons-Foster produced a good block to thwart Alex Collado’s effort shortly after the restart, before Bennett blazed an effort wide at the other end after he had received Maghoma’s pass down the left before cutting inside on his right and firing over. The 16 year old winger was evidently frustrated out on that left hand side, Bennett was often finding himself in acres of space.

The tricky Dilan Markanday won a free kick in a dangerous position on the edge of the Barcelona penalty area a couple of moments later after he had been kicked by Sanz Catalan. Paris Maghoma fired the resulting free kick straight into the Barcelona wall as the ball came back out to the midfielder who then fired a low effort just wide on his left. Spurs had won a corner from Maghoma’s effort and the 17 year old had elected to take it. His ball into the danger zone was spilt by the slightly shaky looking Tenas. Eyoma was quickest to the loose ball but he couldn’t sort his feet out quick enough as he scuffed his effort wide of the goal. A comical exchange between Bennett and the linesman over water bottles followed after there had been a brief pause to play. The impressive TJ Eyoma managed to block Alex Collado’s dangerous through ball shortly after the restart. Spurs continued to push for an equaliser before the first half came to a close, a good exchange of passes between Markanday, Maghoma and Bennett resulted in Maghoma receiving the ball on the edge of the penalty area. However, the midfielder curled an effort over Tenas’ crossbar as Spurs let another chance go to waste.Then in the first minute of stoppage time came Wells sides well deserved equaliser, courtesy of an excellent finish from Rodel Richards. It was a well worked move from Spurs which had started out on the right wing after Hinds over hit cross had come out to Brown on the opposite flank. Brown passed the ball into the feet of Bowden who was on the edge of the penalty area, he looked up before feeding the ball into Richards inside the box. The tricky forward received the ball with his back to goal, he quickly turned his man before curing an excellent effort into top right hand corner of the goal, 1-1. It was a lovely finish from the 18 year old who had showed off his excellent movement in tight spaces to bring to an end a good half of football from Wells side.

The visitors got the second half underway as a new face entered the field for Wells side in Armando Shashoua, who had replaced the injured Oakley-Boothe on half time. Jaime picked up an early yellow card after he took one for the team when he tripped the surging De Vega through the middle of the pitch to break up a dangerous Barcelona attack. De Vega had made the most of Bowden’s foul and could be seen rolling about on the ground. Spurs had to deal with a bit of an attacking onslaught from Barça in the following minutes as Silva Puig’s side started to up their tempo. Dilan Markanday’s back pass had put Austin under pressure in the Spurs goal which had forced the 19 year old into making a rushed clearance. Austin then had to make a save albeit a comfortable one, from Abel Ruiz’s header after the forward had gone to meet Martinez Marsa‘s cross inside the box. Spurs went on a promising attack at the other end after Austin found Markanday out on the right flank, Markanday then passed to Richards who quickly switched the ball to Maghoma inside the penalty area. Maghoma showed good feet as he tried to travel with the ball, but Barcelona defender Rojas Castilla came sliding in to bring Maghoma to the floor. The referee ignored Maghoma’s penalty claims however, as far as I could see it was a stone wall penalty as Rojas Castilla had gotten absolutely nothing on the ball. The ever attentive TJ Eyoma cleared De La Fuente’s dangerous looking cross at the other end before the ever potent J’Neil Bennett skipped past Jaime down the left wing before seeing his cross cleared. And Spurs came desperately close to taking the lead a couple of minutes later after going on a wonderful move. Maghoma’s crisp pass found Richards on the edge of the Barcelona penalty area, Richards spotted the run of Markanday into the box before finding Markanday with a lovely lofted pass. The 17 year old went to attack the ball but his headed attempt was deflected off of Martinez Marsa before Tenas gathered the ball.

Tariq Hinds then made a good clearance to prevent De Vega from latching onto the ball inside the Spurs penalty area. Then came a bit of a nervy moment for the Spurs goalkeeper Brandon Austin after he flapped and missed a corner kick from Alex Collado. Collado then came a matter of inches away from being able to nod De Vega’s resulting corner kick home at the back post. Collado was causing Spurs quite a few problems. An effort from 20-25 yards out by De La Fuente stung the palms of Austin as Barcelona continued their resurgence. J’Neil Bennett won a free kick for Spurs out on the left wing a couple of minutes later as Maghoma’s resulting but what somewhat over hit delivery was headed out for a goal kick by Brown. Meanwhile Barça were continuing to threaten the Tottenham defence and they came desperately close to regaining their lead through Abel Ruiz. After the Spanish centre forward had gotten on the end of Jaime’s cross inside the penalty area, Ruiz managed to get to the ball before Eyoma and he prodded the ball against the base of Austin’s left hand post. Both sides were really going for the game as we reached the final stages. Young Harvey White was brought on to replace Bowden with 23 minutes remaining as he slotted into the midfield anchor man position as the sun started to come out. Barcelona forced a good stop out of Austin after a good move from the Catalans resulted in Mortimer passing the ball to Ruiz down the left side of the penalty area before forcing a good stop out of Austin at his near post from close range. Phoenix Patterson replaced Dilan Markanday shortly afterwards as Wells looked to introduce fresh legs into the game. De La Fuente had a massively deflected effort at goal comfortably saved by Austin. Before the quietly influential Harvey White almost managed to play Patterson through with an inch perfect lofted pass over the top of the Barcelona defence, a couple of moments later. 

Brandon Austin produced a vital stop with his feet as the clock ticked down, only a couple of moments after Eyoma had cleared Jaime’s free kick. Austin had to be alert to Alex Collado’s pacy corner kick which would have crept into the Spurs goal but for a clever block with Austin’s feet to divert the ball away from danger. The energetic Armando Shashoua played a clever pass through to Patterson in the Barcelona penalty area moments later however, Patterson was intercepted by substitute Gonzalez Iglesias who had managed to get across him in time. The game had developed into quite a frantic and end to end affair as both sides went in search of a winner. Lyons-Foster headed J’Neil Bennett’s free kick straight at the goalkeeper before the same player found himself making a good block to divert Ruiz’s shot out for a corner kick a mere minute or so later. But Barcelona were showing no signs of lowering their tempo and they went very close to netting a late winner through the newly introduced Anssumane Fati after a typically well worked move from the visitors. The move started with Jaime’s long ball up to Ruiz on the left wing, the nimble footed centre forward squared the ball for Fati who was in the centre of the penalty area. However, the winger connected poorly with the ball and his scuffed effort was easily gathered by the much relieved Brandon Austin. The Spurs goalkeeper then made a similarly comfortable save from Jaime’s ambitious effort from long range. I’m sure that Spurs would have been happy to take the point but to their great credit they were constantly looking to find a winner. Another intricate move from the young Lilywhites saw Shashoua play a quick one-two with Maghoma on the edge of the penalty before the former attempted to latch onto Maghoma’s clever pass inside the area, but Tenas came out to smother the ball.

Harvey White made an important late headed clearance from Alex Collado’s corner kick before then clearing the ball once again after it had found its way back into the penalty area. Wells made two late substitutions in stoppage time, when he brought off Maghoma and Brown in place of Roles and Binks as we entered four minutes of stoppage time. However, it was Barcelona who came the closest to finding a later winner. After Barça skipper Jaime picked out Alex Collado in the centre of the Spurs penalty area you’d have expected the net to bulge. However, Collado took the sting out of his header by heading it into the ground as Austin gathered the ball with relative ease. And the England and USA youth international could be heard roaring at his defence after Collado whipped a late corner kick dangerously across the face of the Spurs goal in what proved to be the final piece of action, of what was a pulsating game of European football. That draw sees Spurs remain in third place in the group and after putting in two very good performances in this seasons competition, they find themselves only two points off table toppers Barcelona. Next up for Matt Wells side is a trip to the Netherlands to take on highly regarded Dutch side, PSV towards the end of the month.

Player reviews: 

  • Brandon Austin: The Skipper didn’t have an awful lot to do throughout the game however, he did still make five saves in total and showcased his quick feet and good distribution against the Catalan side. The most important stop that Austin made was from Alex Collado’s corner in the second half. Yes, the 19 year old did flap and miss a pacy corner kick from Collado in the second half but so does every other keeper in the game of football! Austin had a really good game and it must be noted that he led by example. He was both encouraging and commanding towards his teammates. He should be very proud of how he played. I certainly was.
  • Tariq Hinds: The 18 year old put in another really strong performance at right back and it came against a very good young player in Mortimer before he was replaced by Fati in the second half. Hinds read the game well and rarely allowed his man to get the better of him down that side of the pitch. He also made a couple of really important defensive interventions.
  • TJ Eyoma: Eyoma was imperious at the back alongside his slightly younger teammate Lyons-Foster. The pair always form a strong defensive partnership and the game against Barcelona proved to be no different. Eyoma’s reading of the game was second to none, as was his positioning and dominance in the air throughout the game. Eyoma made many important blocks and interceptions against Barcelona and he dealt extremely well with Barcelona’s potent and highly rated centre forward Abel Ruiz.
  • Brooklyn Lyons-Foster: My motm, see below.
  • Jaden Brown: The 19 year old put in another strong performance at left back. Brown kept the speedy De La Fuente in check down the left wing, the fullback also went on some decent attacking forays of his own and he demonstrated good link up play with the forwards.
  • Tashan Oakley-Boothe: Oakley-Boothe played on the left side of a midfield three against Barcelona and the 18 year old put in quite a decent performance during his time on the pitch. He looked good on the ball and used it relatively resourcefully however, the England youth international was withdrawn at half time after picking up a knock towards the end of the first half. 
  • Jamie Bowden: This was Bowden’s first start in the UEFA youth league and the Tottenham lad put in another really positive display as he anchored the midfield. It was one of those games where he really provided that all important shield in front of the back four. Bowden scrapped for every ball and covered the pitch with a remarkable intensity and fight about his game. Bowden was ubiquitous across the central areas of the pitch and whilst he wasn’t playing in that creative role as he so usually does. The teenager did the bread and butter side of the game and kept things ticking. He also showed good awareness to pick out Richards for the strikers goal on the stroke of halftime, that was Bowden’s sixth assist of the campaign. In addition he also took one for the team which would ultimately see him come off quite early on in the game when he smartly took out De Vega, to break up a really dangerously looking Barcelona attack. This resulted in him picking up a yellow card but it’s those little things that prove to be so important.
  • Paris Maghoma: It was another strong and heavily involved performance from the ever improving central midfielder who lined up on the right side of the midfield three. Perhaps stifled somewhat by the decision to play three players in the middle of the pitch, I thought Maghoma adapted well to the flow of the game. He carried the ball well and made some nice crisp passes throughout the game. The 17 year old who should have had been awarded a stonewall penalty in the second half also went close to finding the back of the net on a couple of occasions. However, it was his excellent movement and perfectly timed runs towards the edge of the six yard box which impressed me the most. That awareness and understanding of the the game and of how to link up with his teammates is so very impressive.
  • Dilan Markanday: The 17 year old posed a constant threat down the right wing and whilst his lack of physicality made things slightly challenging for him up against Barcelona’s strong left back Martinez Marsa. I thought he did a good a job on the whole and he went on some nice weaving runs.
  • Rodel Richards: His movement and ability to wriggle away from defenders in tight spaces was superb. And the 18 year old centre forward continued his excellent start to the season with his third goal from three matches and he was unlucky not to have added to that tally against Barcelona. Richards put in a typically electric performance and he would often drift out wide to pick up the ball. He took his goal excellently and caused a very good Barcelona defence a whole host of issues with his pace and trickery.
  • J’Neil Bennett: The exciting left winger starred out on the left and he was one of Spurs’ best players on Wednesday. Tricky and unpredictable, the speedy winger caused so many problems for the Barcelona captain Jaime. He worked so hard and was constantly looking to beat his man and pick out players inside the six yard box. Bennett also came to close to finding the back of the net himself on a few occasions.
  • Armando Shashoua: Shashoua replaced Oakley-Boothe at half time when he slotted into the centre of the park, but in a slightly more advanced role than Oakley-Boothe had been playing in. Shashoua brought an energy and intensity which changed the flow of Spurs’ game. It may sound ironic but he played like a typical Barcelona midfielder in so many ways. He was subtly creative and so accurate in the many passes that he made. But it was that almost David Silva-esque moment which helped Spurs to play quicker and create more, he was constantly switching with different players. It was one of those performances where you’ve really got to watch him closely to appreciate how much of an impact he had on the game.
  • Harvey White: White came on in the 67th minute to replace Jamie Bowden in the centre of midfield. This was a big responsibility for one of our youngsters players on the pitch to man the midfield against top class opposition. And White delivered without fail and filled in extremely well for his slightly older teammate. He defended well and made two particularly important clearances during the final moments of the game. He was also assured and did a good job at breaking up play and recycling possession during his short time on the pitch. His excellent inch perfect, lofted pass over the top of the Barcelona defence to pick out Patterson was sublime to say the very least.
  • Phoenix Patterson: He made some good runs and looked lively during his late cameo.
  • Luis Binks: N/A.
  • Jack Roles: N/A.

My man of the match: Brooklyn Lyons-Foster. The 17 year old centre half put in a really assured and confident performance alongside TJ Eyoma at centre back. Lyons-Foster read the game to perfection and his cautious but ultimately decisive defending and good positioning really helped Spurs to neutralise the real threat of the highly rated Spanish centre forward Abel Ruiz. The centre half was just so calm and collected in everything that he did, and he didn’t need to make crunching sliding challenges to show that. Like Eyoma he was dominant in the air and rarely allowed Ruiz to enjoy too much space inside the danger zone. Furthermore, Lyons-Foster’s passing was immaculate throughout the game and he posed a real aerial threat from set pieces.

Spurs: Austin (c), Hinds, Brown (Binks 90+1), Bowden (White 67), Eyoma, Lyons-Foster, Markanday (Patterson 71), Oakley-Boothe (A Shashoua 46),  Richards, Maghoma (Roles 90+1), Bennett. Substitutes (not used): Oluwayemi, Cirkin.

Barcelona: Tenas, Jaime (c), Comas (Sola Villalba 76), Rojas Castilla, Martinez Marsa, Sanz Catalan (Gonzalez Iglesias 59), De La Fuente, De Vega (Canton Roman 71), Ruiz, Alex Collado, Mortimer (Fati 71). Substitutes (not used): Tristan Jimenez, Sergi Rosanas, Serrano Bernat.

Spurs under 19’s statistics 2018/19:

Goals scored: Jack Roles – 1

Rodel Richards – 1

Assists: Troy Parrott – 1

Jamie Bowden – 1

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