Spurs under 18’s 3-2 Arsenal: (match report)

Spurs under 18’s 3-2 Arsenal: (match report)

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It was an exhilarating, fiery and downright entertaining game on Saturday morning at Hotspur Way, for our under 18’s north London derby against Arsenal in the under 18 southern division. It was a top of the table clash as Matt Wells side looked to regain top spot with a win over their bitter rivals. And despite the fact that they were missing several key players, Spurs put in a performance worthy enough to win any north London derby. Top of the table Arsenal came to Hotspur Way in rich form and they would have been feeling confident that they could have ended Spurs’ long unbeaten run in domestic competition. It was an impassioned and fiercely contested derby, with robust challenges and fighting spirt from both sides aplenty. It was also a thrilling end to end game in which Matt Wells side did enough to win in the end, on a bitterly cold morning in Enfield. Ken Gillard’s Arsenal side included the likes of Sam Greenwood, Joel Lopez and Folarin Balogun and apart from speedy winger Bukayo Saka and centre forward Tyreece John-Jules being absent, they were pretty much at full strength. Matt Wells side on the other hand was missing the likes of Brooklyn Lyons-Foster, Phoenix Patterson, Rodel Richards, Malachi Walcott and Jamie Bowden. It was a fast paced game which never showed any signs of slowing down. An excellent start to the game by the ‘ Gunners ’ saw them take the lead inside the third minute of the game, courtesy of an excellent goal by Folarin Balogun which stunned Spurs goalkeeper Joshua Oluwayemi. Arsenal were on top of the game for a considerable time after that. However, Matt Wells lads grew into the game, and right on the stroke of halftime they drew level through defender Jubril Okedina who powered home Harvey White’s delivery from a free kick. Although it was still a very even and end to end game in the second half, Spurs were without doubt the better and more fitter side. Winger Rayan Clarke who had actually started the game at right back put Spurs in front for the first time in the game, with his venomous strike early on in the second half.

Spur were the dominant force after taking the lead and they made it 3-1 on 68 minutes through defender Luis Binks, who glanced home Harvey White’s free kick. Armando Shashoua missed a golden chance to make it 4-1 and soon afterwards Arsenal pulled a goal back after Dennis Cirkin scored an own goal. The remainder of the game was pulsating and were it not for the heroic Joshua Oluwayemi who spectacularly denied Arsenal on two occasions from the penalty spot during the second half, then we may well have come out of the game with nothing. However, our 3-2 victory over our bitter rivals saw us leapfrog them in the table to go top of the league once again. With a number of players missing through injury as well as being saved for our UEFA youth league game with Inter Milan on Wednesday, Matt Wells was forced into shuffling his side around for Saturdays north London derby. Joshua Oluwayemi retained his place in goal for Spurs whilst a back four of Clarke, Okedina, Binks and Cirkin lined up in front of him. First year scholars Harvey White and Chay Cooper were the two central midfielders, and Dilan Markanday, captain Armando Shashoua and J’Neil Bennett were the attacking line which started behind lone centre forward Troy Parrott. It was Matt Wells side who got the game underway at the training centre however, it was the ‘ Gunners ’ who started the brighter of the two teams. And Arsenal’s impressive start resulted in them taking the lead inside three minutes courtesy of a wonderful strike by Folarin Balogun. It was a disappointing goal to concede so only on in the game, and it came from the tricky Sam Greenwood’s intent to run at the Spurs defence. The former Sunderland schoolboy broke down the left wing after receiving a throw in from Joel Lopez, before leaving makeshift right back Rayan Clarke in his wake as he advanced forward down the flank. Greenwood then squared the ball for Balogun on the edge of the penalty area, the Arsenal centre forward received the ball with his back towards goal. However, Balogun skilfully twisted his way around Binks before firing the ball off of the underside of Oluwayemi’s crossbar and into the back of the net, leaving the Spurs goalkeeper with no chance of getting to the ball, 0-1.

Dennis Cirkin made an excellent and brave challenge on Ben Cotterill shortly after the restart. And the confident left back played a lovely long pass down the line to Shashoua a couple of minutes later. Shashoua beat his man before darting forward and crossing for Parrott who had made the run into the penalty area. The Dubliner set himself up well before volleying the ball against the bottom of Karl Hein’s right hand post. Spurs then had a penalty shout after Parrott was brought down from behind inside the Arsenal penalty area by former Spurs schoolboy Bayli Spencer-Adams, but the referee Kirsty Dowie was having none of Parrott’s claims for a penalty. Sam Greenwood forced a fairly comfortable save out of Oluwayemi with a low shot from 20 yards out. The so far uninvolved J’Neil Bennett was barged painfully by the powerful Vontae Daley-Campbell shortly afterwards as the frantic start to the game continued. Harvey White had a free kick cleared by Arsenal’s towering defender Mark McGuinness before Binks could head home at the near post. Chay Cooper on his first start for our under 18’s fired over Hein’s crossbar from the edge of the Arsenal penalty area, after picking up a loose ball. Matt Wells side were starting to find their rhythm and they were really starting to work the Arsenal defence. A good passing move saw Cirkin pass the ball down the left wing for Shashoua who squared it for Parrott inside the penalty area. However, the Dubliner ended up dragging his shot narrowly wide of the goal. Unable to continue following his collision with Daley-Campbell the injured Bennett had to be replaced by Jeremie Mukendi. Mukendi played at right back whilst Clarke moved out onto the left wing. The lively Armando Shashoua did well to bring down a long pass from Cirkin inside the Arsenal box however, the Tottenham skipper was intercepted by Spencer-Adams before he could get a shot away. Then at the other end Jeremie Mukendi did well to block Sam Greenwood’s effort on goal from the edge of the Tottenham penalty area.

It was as end to end a game as it could possibly be and this forced both defences to be on alert at all times. Karl Hein managed to gather Rayan Clarke’s deflected cross, before a clever move from Matt Wells side almost saw Spurs draw level. Chay Cooper’s long ball up to Shashoua was cleverly knocked onto Parrott. As the Tottenham captain laid the ball off to him on the edge of the Arsenal box with a lovely delicate cushion header. Parrott caught the ball on the half volley and he sent a fizzing and swerving effort a fraction wide of Hein’s goal, as Arsenal escaped punishment once again. Joshua Oluwayemi did well to hold Balogun’s effort at the other end, after the Arsenal striker received Matthew Smith’s pass on the edge of the Spurs box before having a pop at goal. However, Balogun’s effort took a heavy deflection off of Okedina and this made it easier for Oluwayemi to save. Troy Parrott then chested Rayan Clarke’s cross wide as both sides kept up their high tempo start to the game. Spurs came close to finding the back of the net again a couple of moments later. After Mukendi received White’s pass out on the right wing the substitute sent a low cross into the penalty area which was met by Clarke, whose first time side footed effort was blocked well on the line by Spencer-Adams. The dangerous Folarin Balogun managed to trick his way past Okedina in the Spurs penalty area shortly afterwards before dragging an effort across the face of Oluwayemi’s goal as Spurs were caught on the counter. Okedina then conceded a free kick in a dangerous position on the edge of the six yard box. However, Greenwood’s deflected free kick was saved comfortably by Oluwayemi in the Spurs goal. Dilan Markanday almost managed to find Shashoua inside the Arsenal penalty area after a good Spurs break away. However, Spencer-Adams got to the ball before Shashoua and was able to clear it. After all of their possession in the first half Matt Wells side were rewarded on the stroke of half time with a well deserved leveller. Arsenal had been undone from a set piece after Clarke had won a free kick out on the left wing after being fouled by Daley-Campbell. 

Harvey White stood up before whipping the ball invitingly into the box, and White’s pacy delivery was met in the middle of the area by Okedina, whose unstoppable bullet header flew into the top left hand corner of Hein’s goal, 1-1. Harvey White did well to block Greenwood’s shot on the edge of the Spurs box shortly after the restart, before Yunus Musah almost regained the lead for Arsenal after cutting inside from the left wing and firing an effort across Oluwayemi’s goal. Bringing to an end an enthralling half of highly competitive football. Arsenal got the second half underway and both sides picked up where they had left off in the first half. After latching onto Harvey White’s long ball towards the Arsenal box, Troy Parrott won a free kick after he was brought down right on the edge of the penalty are from behind by McGuinness. It was right in Harvey White territory and surely enough the midfielder stood up to take it, before bending an effort over the Arsenal wall and onto the top of the crossbar. The potent Daley-Campbell then fired an effort over at the other end after beating Cirkin down the left flank before entering the six yard box and blasting over from an acute angle. Dennis Cirkin then gave Daley-Campbell a taste of his own medicine by skipping past him at the other end of the pitch less than a minute later. Cirkin showed good feet before squaring the ball for Parrott inside the six yard box, but the Irishman’s effort was blocked by Spencer-Adams. Then in the 54th minute of the game Spurs took the lead through winger Rayan Clarke. That second goal had been coming for a while and it was the confident wide man who delivered for Matt Wells side. Mukendi did well to spot Clarke on the left side of the Arsenal box, and the makeshift right back managed to pick out Clarke with a well weighted pass through the Arsenal defence. Clarke controlled the ball well before opening up his body and firing the ball across Hein and into the far corner of the goal, it was a venomous strike from the 17 year old, 2-1.

Spurs almost gave away their lead a couple of minutes after the restart when Joshua Oluwayemi gave away a penalty following a foul on Balogun. A defence splitting pass from Arsenal captain Matthew Smith had caught Spurs cold and it allowed the pacy Balogun to run through on goal. Binks couldn’t keep up with the Arsenal striker who tried to go around the out rushing Oluwayemi but he was brought to the ground by the Spurs goalkeeper who clipped his feet. This left the referee with no other option but to point to the spot and to give Oluwayemi a yellow card. Matthew Smith stepped up to take the resulting penalty kick for Arsenal however, his powerful low effort was excellently saved by Oluwayemi who dived to his right to make the save and then to smother the ball. Centre half Jubril Okedina was handed a yellow card shortly afterwards following a tug on Balogun’s shirt. Mukendi made an important interception to win the ball off of Musah on the edge of the Spurs box, before Cooper made an excellent sliding challenge on Smith inside his own box. Greenwood blazed over from distance as Arsenal tried their utmost to get back into the game. Spurs were under a sustained spell of pressure from the ‘ Gunners ’ who threatened again through Balogun whose powerful low effort down the right side of the penalty area was saved by Oluwayemi. Shashoua then did well to clear a menacing cross from Joel Lopez, as Wells side continued to defend well against an increasingly threatening Arsenal side. That’s why our third goal of the game which was scored by Luis Binks came at such a vital time. Some hard work from Markanday managed to win a free kick out on the right flank after he had been fouled after advancing on one of his trademark jinking runs. Harvey White whipped a delightful in swinging ball into the danger zone which was helped into the left hand corner of Hein’s goal by the faintest of touches off the head of Luis Binks (Luis confirmed this to me after the game!) 3-1. Matt Wells side should have put the game to bed a couple of minutes later after catching out the Arsenal defence with another incisive passing move.

Armando Shashoua passed the ball to Mukendi who slipped the ball through to Parrott inside the Arsenal box. The Dubliner unselfishly laid the ball off to Shashoua who found himself one on one with Hein. However, the Arsenal goalkeeper did well to close him down before making an excellent diving save to deny Shashoua’s powerful effort. The game was far from over and the visitors who were fouling more and more as the game went on, were not giving up hope of salvaging something from the game. After Oluwayemi passed the ball straight to Zak Swanson the Arsenal midfielder passed the ball to Balogun who fired an effort narrowly wide of Oluwayemi’s goal. Arsenal did manage to pull a goal back a couple of minutes later in the 77th minute of the game. The pace and trickery of Balogun had caused the Tottenham defence problems once again, as he drove forwards down the left wing before managing to trick his way into the box and firing an effort across goal which ended up bouncing off of Cirkin and going into the back of Oluwayemi’s net, 3-2. A nervy 12 minutes of the game remained for Spurs who were now defending for their lives. Oluwayemi did well to stop Greenwood’s effort after he had received Matthew Dennis’ pass on the edge of the box. Arsenal then had a goal ruled out for offside after Dennis volleyed home Zak Swanson’s effort at Oluwayemi’s back post. The tireless Chay Cooper was brought off in place of Maurizio Pochettino soon afterwards as Shashoua slotted into the middle of the park alongside White. Luis Binks made a vital challenge in the Spurs penalty area when he came across Dennis to make a hugely important sliding challenge on the Arsenal substitute, after Lopez had played a long pass up to Dennis. Despite making a hugely important challenge only a couple of minutes beforehand, Binks conceded Spurs’ second penalty kick of the game after holding back Balogun inside the Spurs penalty area, following his lovely attacking foray past Cirkin and into the Tottenham penalty area, Binks was also given a yellow card. This time Sam Greenwood stood up to take the penalty for Arsenal, and his powerful low shot to the left off Oluwayemi was unbelievably saved by the Spurs goalkeeper who somehow managed to hold onto the ball to save the day for Spurs.

Maxwell Statham replaced Dilan Markanday in the 90th minute as Spurs looked to see out the final minutes of the game. Arsenal threw the kitchen sink at Spurs during those final moments of the game. Oluwayemi comfortably saved Spencer-Adams’ header after he had met Stan Flaherty’s free kick. before then coming out to claim Matthew Dennis’ looping cross as Spurs held onto record a memorable and hugely important victory over their bitter old rivals. Top of the table Tottenham Hotspur travel to Leicester next Saturday to play the ‘ Foxes ’ at their Belovir drive training ground. 

Player reviews: 

  • Joshua Oluwayemi: It was another exceptional performance from the 17 year old goalkeeper who saved the day with two terrific penalty saves. Making five saves in total against Arsenal on Saturday, Oluwayemi didn’t put a foot wrong and even if you forget those two fantastic saves that he made to deny Arsenal from the spot, he still had a great game. He dealt well with crosses and set pieces, and he also made three other decent stops. The 17 year old is making fantastic progress for Matt Wells side this season.
  • Rayan Clarke: Although Clarke started the game at the unfamiliar position of right back, he would later switch onto the left wing following Bennett’s injury in the first half. Clarke had a fine game out on the left flank and he provided Spurs with the pace and trickery which they needed in order to break down the Arsenal defence. Clarke’s very Townsend-esque goal at the beginning of the second half was superbly executed.
  • Jubril Okedina: The centre half was very impressive for Matt Wells side on only his second start of the season for our under 18’s. Okedina defended very well throughout the game, making many important blocks, well timed interceptions and headed clearances. Okedina was very good on the ball and he was nice and composed in possession. The 18 year olds goal on the stroke of halftime was an unstoppable bullet header, which gets him off the mark at this level. 
  • Luis Binks: My motm, see below.
  • Dennis Cirkin: The England under 17 international had an excellent game at left back. Cirkin got up and down the left flank so well throughout the game and he managed to combine both his defensive and attacking duties really well. The Dubliner made some really good attacking forays down the left channel and he would often link up well with Shashoua. He also did a sterling job in defence and he was extremely brave on multiple occasions, making a number of impressive challenges. In the second half Daley-Campbell painfully clattered Cirkin in the face however, the Spurs man just dusted himself down and went straight back into the action. 
  • Harvey White: The midfield maestro set up another two goals in our 3-2 win over Arsenal. Both were lovely deliveries from that wand of a left foot that he has. White remained industrious throughout the game and he made some important defensive contributions. The 17 year old also hit the bar in the second half from a lovely bending free kick on the edge of the Arsenal penalty area.
  • Chay Cooper: I was really impressed with how Cooper played in his less natural role of central midfield. It was the former Southend schoolboys first start of the season for our under 18’s. However, he put in a tireless performance, tracking back well and showing a real willingness to chase down opposition players. Cooper also made some nice passes and pulled off some nice little moves in the middle of the pitch.
  • Dilan Markanday: After an unusually quiet first half Markanday grew into the game and he went on some nice weaving runs down the right flank. Whilst also tracking back well and helping out Mukendi on occasions at right back. The 17 year old won the free kick which led to our third goal of the game.
  • Armando Shashoua: Our captain fantastic had a superb game and his intricacy and ball control in the final third helped to crate many chances for Spurs throughout the game. He constantly got into good positions throughout the game. His spacial awareness was second to none and he linked up really well with both Parrott and Cirkin. Shashoua played in the hole for the majority of the game.
  • J’Neil Bennett: N/A.
  • Troy Parrott: Parrott put in a real shift up top for his teammates and he came close to finding the back of the net on a couple of occasions during the first half. Parrot was very unselfish in his play and he did a good job at holding up the ball and creating chances for the other attacking players.
  • Jeremie Mukendi: coming on for the injured J’Neil Bennett, I thought that the versatile Mukendi filled in excellently at right back and made a number of important interceptions and challenges during his time on the pitch.
  • Maurizio Pochettino: N/A.
  • Maxwell Statham: It was a fleeting cameo from Statham who made one important header during the dying moments of the game. He helped to bolster the Spurs defence.

My man of the match: Luis Binks. I was first going to give my man of the match award to Shashoua, then to Cirkin but in the end I’ve opted to give it to Luis Binks for his commanding performance at centre half. Playing at left centre back, Binks had a very good game all round against Arsenal. The teenager from Gillingham read the game well and helped to snuff out danger on numerous occasions. He was dominant in the air alongside Okedina, and more than comfortable at playing it out from the back. He is an adventurous centre half who likes to mix up his game and he was constantly looking to make long diagonal passes. Binks made some crucial defensive interventions and although he gave away a penalty during the second half, he saved us on many occasions. The 17 year olds vital last ditch challenge on Matthew Dennis inside the Tottenham penalty area proved crucial, as too did the faintest of touches he got on Harvey White’s free kick to net Spurs’ third goal of the game. What I really liked about the classy England under 18 internationals performance, was the leadership skills in which he demonstrated throughout the game. He was so confident and assured in his defending but he wasn’t afraid to point things out to his teammates (even captain Shashoua) and he was a great motivator and leader throughout the game. There’s something very special about this lad!

Spurs: Oluwayemi, Clarke, Cirkin, White, Okedina, Binks, Markanday (Statham 90), A.Shashoua (c), Parrott, Cooper (Pochettino 81), Bennett (Mukendi 19).

Substitutes (not used): Kurylowicz, Thorpe. 

Goals scored: Arsenal – Folarin Balogun (3). Spurs – Jubril Okedina (42), 

Spurs under 18’s statistics 2018/19

Goals scored: Troy Parrott – 8

Dilan Markanday – 6

Rayan Clarke – 6

J’Neil Bennett – 5

Armando Shashoua – 4

Harvey White – 3

Luis Binks – 3

Paris Maghoma – 2

Dennis Cirkin – 2

Jeremie Mukendi – 2

Rodel Richards – 2

Brooklyn Lyons-Foster – 2

Phoenix Patterson – 2

Maurizio Pochettino – 1

Jubril Okedina – 1

Assists: Harvey White – 9

Armando Shashoua – 8

Jamie Bowden – 5

Phoenix Patterson – 4

Troy Parrott – 3

Brooklyn Lyons-Foster – 2

Dilan Markanday – 2

J’Neil Bennett – 2

Rodel Richards – 2

Rayan Clarke – 2

Paris Maghoma – 1

Maurizio Pochettino – 1

Malachi Walcott – 1

Luis Binks – 1

Dennis Cirkin – 1

Rafferty Pedder – 1

Maxwell Statham – 1

Jeremie Mukendi – 1

Clean sheets: Joshua Oluwayemi – 3

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