Spurs under 23’s 1-4 Swansea City: (match report)

Spurs under 23’s 1-4 Swansea City: (match report)

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Hoping to bounce back from their 1-0 defeat to Derby County last Sunday, our under 23’s encounter with bottom of the table Swansea City at Hotspur Way on Friday lunchtime would have been viewed as a very winnable game for Wayne Burnett’s side. However, Spurs lacked that cutting edge needed to overcome the ‘Swans’ who were winless in all competitions this season going into this game. Burnett’s side albeit without a trio of important and experienced players, lacked in creativity as well as craft. Like the Derby game, it was another flat performance. We were missing a certain sharpness and awareness to our game and we didn’t press anywhere near aggressively as we normally do. Yes it was disappointing to lose to what was quite frankly a poor Swansea side by such a score line. However, as in every game at this level it is important to look at individual performances. And once again a number of our players most notably Paris Maghoma and Japhet Tanganga had really good games, despite the poor performance of the team as a whole. The ‘Swans’ who are co managed by Gary Richards and Cameron Toshack didn’t include a single overage player in their squad for the trip to Enfield. On paper we had the far better players, that’s why it came as a great surprise to me that Burnett’s side were on the second foot for the majority of the first half. Constantly being put under pressure by the visitors, Spurs struggled to play their brand of attacking football. Despite this Spurs took the lead towards the end of the half through the inform Paris Maghoma, courtesy of some dodgy goalkeeping from Swansea goalkeeper Steven Benda. However, Spurs’ bright finish to the half didn’t continue into the second half, and some particularly poor defending from our wingbacks who were often too high up the field, ultimately cost us. Swansea hit us where it hurt and the South Wales club managed to score   three goals inside the opening 19 minutes of the second half. This resulted in Burnett’s side falling apart, and despite a couple of nice passages of play, his lads were unable to mount a fight back. And to make matters worse for Spurs, Swansea got a fourth goal in the 84th minute of time through Scottish centre forward Botti Biabi.

Indeed it was a poor performance from the young Spurs lads, who on their day were lacking the intensity, vision and awareness needed in order to carve open the Swansea defence. I think the game will be viewed as a disappointment in the sense that they couldn’t push further up the table with what should have been a routine win for the young Lilywhites. However, results are not always paramount at this level, and the individual performances of some our players on the day is something which we should all draw positives from. The sun was shining down on Hotspur Way on Friday afternoon ahead of our PL2 encounter with Swansea. Burnett went for a a similar team to the one that he picked against Derby in the previous game. Opting for a 4-2-3-1 formation Brandon Austin started in goal for Spurs, whilst a back four of George Marsh (the skipper), TJ Eyoma, Japhet Tanganga and Jaden Brown sat in front of him. Young Jamie Bowden and Tashan Oakley-Boothe manned the centre of the park, as Bennett, Roles and Maghoma lined up behind frontman Kazaiah Sterling who led the line. It’s worth noting that we changed shape on numerous occasions through the second half. Bennett and Maghoma in particular changed positions a number of times throughout the game. Both sets of players and spectators observed an impeccable minutes silence for the victims of the tragic Leicester helicopter crash prior to kick off. In addition, both sets of players wore black armbands. Spurs got the game underway at the training centre and it was Tottenham’s TJ Eyoma who had to be on hand to make an important early clearance from Liam Cullen’s low cross into the penalty area. The lively Paris Maghoma attempted to pick out Sterling with an ambitious ball through the middle shortly afterwards. And the 17 year old midfielder drew the first save of the game a couple of moments later after he saw his effort on goal take a heavy deflection off of Brandon Cooper, before it was gathered comfortably by goalkeeper Steven Benda. Cullen then came desperately close to meeting Tyler Reid’s header at the back post after the Welshman hadn’t been picked up by a Spurs defender.

George Marsh blocked Botti Biabi’s shot on goal a couple of minutes later as Burnett’s side struggled to find their feet. TJ Eyoma made a vital defensive intervention on Biabi moments later, as the ‘Swans’ continued to test the Spurs defence. The former Falkirk man then fired over with an effort from the right hand side of the penalty area. Swansea continued to push for an opener, Jordan Garrick caused a bit of panic amongst the Spurs defenders after he darted past Eyoma in the penalty area, before slipping at the vital moment. Tanganga then did well to clear Garrick’s pacy low cross a couple of moments later. Spurs were really struggling to deal with the pressure that Swansea were putting on them during the opening stages of the game. Left back Jaden Brown  headed a promising free kick from Keiran Evans clear at the back post before a pacy dangerous cross from Reid somehow managed to evade every Swansea player inside the six yard box, the game was lacking any sort of spark from either side. The only Spurs player to offer any sort of attacking threat had been young Paris Maghoma. And after the midfielder advanced on a powerful run through the middle of pitch, Maghoma blazed an effort well wide of Benda’s goal from over 20 yards out. The tenacious Japhet Tanganga then made a crucial sliding block at the other end of the pitch to thwart Evans shot from the edge of the penalty area, after he latched onto Aaron Lewis’s corner kick. Jack Roles picked up a yellow card shortly afterwards, before Spurs surprised the sharper and more impressive Swansea side by taking a surprise lead in the 36th minute of time through Paris Maghoma. It was a really good move from Spurs which started with Kazaiah Sterling who shifted the ball out to Bennett on the right wing. The 16 year old took on the physically imposing Tyler Reid who managed make contact with the teenagers cross which found Maghoma who was just inside the box. The midfielder had managed to find space before striking a sweet low effort on the half volley, which ended up slipping straight through the hands of Swansea goalkeeper Steven Benda before hitting the back of the net, 1-0. 

Eyoma managed to thread a pass through to Sterling down the left side of the penalty area shortly after the restart. However, the centre forward was closed down well by Swansea’s Tyler Reid. Paris Maghoma then fired an effort over the Swansea crossbar after he received Oakley-Boothe’s pass on the edge of the penalty area. Before the ever solid Tanganga made an important defensive intervention on the edge of the Tottenham penalty area. Maghoma continued to be the shining light for Burnett, and the teenager almost slotted Sterling through on goal with a well measured pass however, Cooper managed to intercept the pass at the vital moment. Tyler Reid blazed an effort well wide of the mark for the visitors a couple of minutes later before Evans forced a comfortable save out of Austin with a curler from the edge of the penalty area. Spurs were extremely fortunate to find themselves 1-0 up going into the half time interval. Swansea got the second half underway and Richards and Toshack’s side couldn’t have made a better start to the half if they had wanted to. Less than two minutes into the half the visitors drew level through winger Liam Cullen. The goal came from a Swansea set piece. A free kick out on the right wing was whipped into the box by Reid whose delivery came out to the unmarked Liam Cullen at the back post. Cullen got the ball under control before managing to bundle it past Austin who despite his best efforts on the line couldn’t prevent it from crossing the line, 1-1. Then less than three minutes later the ‘Swans’ took the lead after they caught Spurs out down the wing. The prominent Tyler Reid got the better of Brown out on the left as he darted past the Spurs defender with ease before picking out Cullen with a cross towards the back post. Unopposed and unmarked, Cullen volleyed the ball home much to the frustration of the Spurs goalkeeper Brandon Austin, 1-2. Burnett’s side tried to respond with a well worked move from a free kick after Maghoma had won it in a promising area on the edge of the penalty area. Roles played the free kick out to Marsh on the right and the makeshift right back squared it into Roles who had made a good run into the box. However, the 19 year old was unable to make sufficient contact with the ball and it was eventually smothered by Benda, before the German was clattered by Roles as he attempted to get to the ball. 

Spurs came close to drawing level a couple of minutes later after another well worked move. Brown passed the ball to Roles from the left, the midfielder then managed to pick out Bennett who went on a surging run towards the edge of the penalty area, before curling an effort narrowly wide of Benda’s goal. George Marsh had a free kick cleared by the head of Brandon Cooper shortly after, as Spurs started to find their feet going forwards. Young Troy Parrott replaced Kazaiah Sterling a couple of moments later as the 19 year old continues his return from injury. Jaden Brown then produced an excellent sliding challenge to prevent Jordan Garrick getting through on goal inside the Spurs box. However, Burnett’s side were dealt a further blow in the 66th minute after Botti Biabi put the ‘Swans’ 3-1 up. Swansea moved the ball around well as Reid passed the ball to Garrick down the left wing. Garrick squared the ball for Biabi in the centre of the box and the Scottish youngster got lucky as Tanganga slipped to the floor just as he received the ball. Biabi finished the move off in style with a clever back heeled finish which nestled into the bottom right hand corner of Austin’s goal, 1-3. Spurs were beginning to fall apart at the back, as they tried to mount a comeback. Japhet Tanganga headed wide from a Paris Maghoma corner kick before the same player sent an inviting cross into Eyoma in the box moments later. However, the 18 year olds header forced a comfortable save out of Benda. Dylan Duncan then replaced Jack Roles in the 76th minute. However, any hopes of a Spurs comeback were extinguished eight minutes later through Botti Biabi who netted his second goal of the game to make it 4-1 to Swansea, after some really poor defending from the young Spurs lads. After Jaden Brown had passed the ball straight to Liam Cullen, the Welshman spotted the run of Biabi through the middle before slotting him through on goal with a well weighted pass. Biabi sprinted down the right side of the penalty area and past Tanganga, before rifling the ball into the far corner of Austin’s goal, 1-4. Spurs responded through Parrott who glanced a header wide of Benda’s goal after meeting Bennett’s cross, following some good work from the wide man.

Swansea then broke down the other end as Biabi slipped in the newly introduced Jordi Govea down the left side of the Spurs penalty area. However, the Ecuadorean’s powerful effort was well blocked by the sliding Tanganga. The last chance of the game also fell to the ‘Swans’ after Aaron Lewis played a corner short to Belgian Simon Paulet, who whipped the ball narrowly over Austin’s crossbar. At the end of the day it was a disjointed team performance from Burnett’s side. Their usual aggressive pressing and energy just wasn’t there, and the lack of creativity within the Spurs side combined with the many defensive errors at the back allowed a poor Swansea team to beat them comfortably on the day. Our development sides next game is against Portsmouth in the Checkatrade trophy during the upcoming international break.  

Player reviews:

  • Brandon Austin: Although it’s hard to believe, Austin didn’t actually have an awful lot to deal with apart from the four Swansea goals, of which he could have done nothing about. He only made one save which was a comfortable one towards the end of the first half. Austin dealt authoritatively with set pieces, and the 19 year old marshalled his defence well throughout the game. I would expect him to play against PSV in the UEFA youth league in midweek.
  • George Marsh: The skipper didn’t have the best game he’s ever had during our 4-1 defeat to Swansea. Operating at right back, Marsh was nowhere to be seen for Swansea’s first two goals which came down his side of the pitch. Marsh was often too high up the pitch and due to his lack of pace he did struggle on occasions. However, he worked extremely hard and did make some important defensive interventions whilst also leading his teammates by example.
  • TJ Eyoma: The 18 year old who operated at left centre back had a decent game on the whole. Eyoma did make some really important headed clearances and defensive interventions throughout the match, he also kept relatively good positioning. However Eyoma did get done for pace by Jordan Garrick inside the penalty area for Swansea’s second goal of the game.
  • Japhet Tanganga: The 19 year old centre back had an excellent game on Friday afternoon and by no means did the score line reflect his performance in any way. Tanganga made four crucial defensive interventions against Swansea, and the England under 20 international was decisive in everything that he did. He was also excellent in the air and he won the vast majority of his aerial duels. However, it was Tanganga’s positioning at the back which showed such maturity and understanding of the game. Without the no nonsense defender present I dread to think what the score might have been. He made so many crucial blocks inside the Spurs penalty area.
  • Jaden Brown: The left back had an ok game but it was by no means his finest performance. Brown made some excellent interceptions and blocks particularly during the first half of the game where he defended solidly. However, a slightly shaky second half resulted in him making a sloppy pass which led to Swansea’s fourth goal of the game.
  • Jamie Bowden: The central midfielder very rarely lost possession against Swansea on what was only his third PL2 appearance. Bowden kept things ticking in the middle of the park with his deftly accurate short passing and impeccable positioning. He snuffed out danger well, and worked hard for the team to provide that midfield barrier in front of the back four. Although he wasn’t as expressive as he is usually within the ball due to the pattern of the game, I thought that Bowden put in a really mature performance. He will likely start against PSV in the UEFA youth league on Tuesday.
  • Tashan Oakley-Boothe: Although the 18 year old worked hard and pressed well in the centre of midfield, Oakley-Boothe struggled to impact the game despite making some decent passes throughout. He was quite anonymous for large periods of the match.
  • J’Neil Bennett: This was the first year scholars first start at this level and the former QPR schoolboy had a good game out on both the right and left flank. Bennett was direct and constantly looking to take players on in the final third. The 16 year old got the assist for Maghoma’s goal after going on a good run down the right wing, and he could have had a goal of his own in the second half after he came desperately close to finding the top right hand corner of the goal with a curler from range.
  • Jack Roles: Operating as a cam the hardworking Jack Roles must have covered more ground than any other player on the pitch. Although he had a  relatively quite game by his standards, the Cyprus under 21 international was often trying to pull things off. An impressively worked free kick by Roles in the second half almost ended in him putting the ball into the back of the net.
  • Paris Maghoma: My motm, see below.
  • Kazaiah Sterling: The 19 year old put in a good shift up top as he continues to make his return from injury. Sterling worked hard and he always tried to influence play by creating his own space. Sterling was replaced by Parrott around the hour mark.
  • Troy Parrott: The 16 year put in a real workmanlike performance up top after he came on for Sterling to play the last 30 or so minutes of the game. He would often drop deep in order to try and influence the game, and Parrott’s sheer strength was impressive in itself on several occasions throughout the second half. The Dubliner managed one goal attempt during his time on the pitch.
  • Dylan Duncan: The 19 year old had a positive late cameo in midfield after replacing Roles. He used the ball intelligently and carried it well. 

My man of the match: Paris Maghoma. The shining light from a poor Spurs performance, the ever impressive 17 year old midfielder was once again the standout player. Maghoma started the game out on the left wing before shifting into a more central role during the second half. The London born midfielder was our most creative and potent attacking player. Instead of playing it sideways or backwards, Maghoma would often try to test the Swansea defence by running at them and having a pop from distance. His clever footwork and many excellently timed runs in and behind the Swansea defence weren’t often picked up by his teammates but they certainly didn’t go unnoticed. Above all else he was positive and resourceful with the ball at his feet. He showed the nous and awareness needed in order to get in a position to score our opener which he took well on the half volley. However, Maghoma also showed ambition and he came close on several occasions to setting players through on goal with some clever defence splitting passes. Our under 23’s best player this campaign again demonstrated that Dele Alli like ability to make those perfectly timed runs into the danger zone, and like Alli he has that positive trait of never treating any ball as a lost cause. Maghoma had more attempts on goal for Spurs than any other player.

Spurs: Austin, Marsh (c), Brown, Bowden, Tanganga, Eyoma, Maghoma, Oakley-Boothe, Sterling (Parrott 63), Roles (Duncan 76), Bennett. Substitute (not used): Glover, Reynolds, Walcott.

Swansea City: Benda, Reid, Lewis, Maric (c), Harries, Cooper, Garrick, Paulet, Biabi, Evans (Govea 76), Cullen. Substitutes (not used): Cooper, Zabret, De Boer, Lewis.

Goals: Spurs – Maghoma 36; Swansea – Cullen 47, 50, Biabi, 66, 84.

Yellow cards: Spurs – Roles 34.

Referee: James Oldham.

Venue: Hotspur Way, Enfield.

Spurs under 21/23’s statistics 2018/19:

Goals scored: Shayon Harrison – 5

Paris Maghoma – 4

Jack Roles – 2

Jaden Brown – 2

Samuel Shashoua – 1

Marcus Edwards – 1

Dylan Duncan – 1

Assists: Jack Roles – 3

Paris Maghoma – 2

J’Neil Bennett – 2

Troy Parrott – 1

Jaden Brown – 1

Shayon Harrison – 1

Oliver Skipp – 1

Tashan Oakley-Boothe – 1

Dylan Duncan – 1

Kazaiah Sterling – 1

Clean sheets: Brandon Austin – 2

Alfie Whiteman – 1

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