Spurs under 18’s 2-5 Arsenal (AET): (match report)

Spurs under 18’s 2-5 Arsenal (AET): (match report)

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Our high flying under 18’s suffered their first competitive defeat since April after they crashed out of this seasons FA youth cup on Thursday, after suffering a 5-2 defeat to bitter rivals Arsenal in the fourth round of the competition (after extra time). For Matt Wells’ side it will be an extremely difficult defeat to take for a whole number of reasons, but to put it quite frankly it was a game in which Spurs looked destined to triumph in after playing so well in the first half. After a bright start to the match the energetic Armando Shashoua gave Spurs the lead in the eighth minute of time after he tapped home Troy Parrott’s pass from inside the Arsenal penalty area. However, Arsenal drew level less than five minutes later through Ben Cottrell’s unstoppable strike on the edge of the Spurs penalty area. Matt Wells‘ team responded well to the ‘ Gunners ‘ leveller and although both sides created good chances it was Spurs who regained the lead in the 34th minute of time through J’Neil Bennett, after he was set up by the tireless Paris Maghoma inside the Arsenal box. Spurs did have further chances to extend their lead before the break but they were unable to take them. However, the second half was a much tighter affair and it didn’t start at all well for the young Lilywhites. Matters were not helped by the referee Robert Whitton who strangely awarded Arsenal a penalty kick from which they scored from, less than five minutes into the second period. It was a strange penalty to award because there wasn’t a single foul committed on an Arsenal player inside the Spurs box. The foul was given against our goalkeeper Joshua Oluwayemi for a supposed foul on Ben Cottrell inside the area. The remainder of the second half was closely fought however, Matt Wells‘ side had some golden opportunities to win the game which they did not take. After the tie couldn’t be settled in normal time it went onto extra time and it was during this period in the game that Spurs began to crumble, and this was down to Arsenal’s speedy front three. Ken Gillard’s side started extra time with an energy about them which Spurs just couldn’t match and three Arsenal goals in quick succession was enough to down Matt Wells’ youngsters. The ‘ Gunners ‘ three goals were scored by Folarin Balogun, Xavier Amaechi and Bukayo Saka respectively to end Spurs’ FA youth cup dreams for another season at least.

There were large periods of the game where Matt Wells‘ side were the better team however, a combination of putting themselves under unnecessary pressure while playing it out from back, and not being clinical enough on the day cost the wonder boys from Hotspur Way. Spurs lined up in their familiar 4-2-3-1 formation for Thursday evenings game at non league side Boreham Wood’s Meadow Road ground. Joshua Oluwayemi started in goal for Spurs while a back four of Okedina, Lyons-Foster, Binks and Cirkin lined up in front of him. Harvey White and development squad regular Jamie Bowden teamed up in the centre of midfield with J’Neil Bennett, captain Armando Shashoua and Paris Maghoma forming an attacking line behind centre forward Troy Parrott. Spurs got the game underway on a bitterly cold Thursday evening under the floodlights at Meadow Road, Spurs had brought with them a sizeable and vocal away support. It was Matt Wells‘ side who got the game underway and it certainly didn’t take long for the game to gather pace. After Joshua Oluwayemi did well to hold Vontag Daley-Campbell’s cross, Spurs defender Luis Binks came close to getting a head on Harvey White’s curling free kick at the opposite end after the 17 year old had come ghosting in at the back post of Arthur Okonkwo’s goal. An uncharacteristically sloppy back pass from Lyons-Foster to Oluwayemi shortly afterwards had the Tottenham goalkeeper in a panic but he did well to race back and clear the ball on the line. Both sides had started the game brightly and with a real desire to attack and after just eight minutes into the game Spurs found themselves 1-0 up after captain Armando Shashoua finished off a well worked move. The goal stemmed from Paris Maghoma’s hard work out on the left flank to recycle possession and to then travel forward with the ball before passing it to Shashoua on the edge of the Arsenal box. He then laid the ball off to Parrott who was able to get around Arsenal defender Mark McGuinness after he had tried to challenge Parrott. The young Dubliner did well to continue forward down the left side of the box before unselfishly cutting the ball back for Shashoua to slot home at the back post. And the Spurs captain celebrated his fifth goal of the season wildly in front of the Spurs supporters, 1-0. Soon after the restart Brooklyn Lyons-Foster did well to cut out Zak Swanson’s pass to Bukayo Saka even though the Arsenal winger would have been offside.

Spurs’ lead only lasted five minutes and Arsenal drew level through Ben Cottrell after we had been caught cold after playing out from the back. It was a sloppy goal to concede for Spurs who had started the game so well. After Jubril Okedina had passed the ball to Cirkin inside Spurs’ half the left back tried to turn around Cottrell however, the Arsenal teenager robbed the ball off of him before advancing forward. Cottrell darted through the middle before unleashing an unstoppable strike which flew past the helpless Oluwayemi and into the roof of the Spurs goal, 1-1. Brooklyn Lyons-Foster did well to clear former Spurs schoolboy Jordan McEneff’s corner a couple of minutes later before Arsenal broke down the left flank through Zak Swanson after Bukayo Saka had played the ball down the line. Swanson continued forward down the flank before pumping the ball into the danger zone where Luis Binks was on hand to head it clear. However, Binks‘ headed clearance fell to Cottrell on the edge of the box but the Arsenal forwards scuffed volley was again headed away by the alert Luis Binks. Arsenal were putting pressure on the Spurs defence and the so far flawless Luis Binks had a nervy moment which resulted in the Arsenal players surrounding the referee as they looked for a penalty. Saka’s through ball to Folarin Balogun had set the Arsenal centre forward racing through the middle of the pitch before entering the Tottenham penalty area where he appeared to have the back of his shirt tugged by Luis Binks. However, no penalty kick was given and the referee only signalled for an Arsenal corner kick. That following corner kick was delivered in by McEneff who managed to pick out Xavier Amaechi at the back post, and the Arsenal wingers header on goal had to be cleared off the line by Shashoua at his near post. Bukayo Saka then fired an effort narrowly over from long range as the ‘ Gunners ‘ continued to threaten the Spurs defence. Spurs looked to respond to Arsenal’s high intensity attacking football. After Armando Shashoua won a free kick out on the left flank Paris Maghoma saw his resulting delivery cleared behind by McGuinness. 

Jamie Bowden played a quick one two with Shashoua from the following corner kick before whipping the ball into the danger zone but, Bowden’s delivery was gathered just in the nick of time by Okonkwo before Binks and Parrott could convert. The commanding Arsenal goalkeeper came out to claim Harvey White’s corner kick a couple of minutes later. Just over ten minutes before the end of the first half Spurs managed to find their rhythm once again to retake the lead with a brilliantly worked goal. The move started in defence from Luis Binks who passed the ball down the left flank to Cirkin who burst forward down the channel, before cutting the ball back to Maghoma on the edge of the Arsenal penalty. Instead of shooting, Maghoma unselfishly slipped the ball into the feet of Bennett who had made a run down the right side of the box. And the speedy winger made no mistake from six yards out and he clinically fired the ball into the bottom right hand corner of Okonwo’s goal, 2-1. Shortly after the restart Spurs came close to making it 3-1 after Bowden managed to set Maghoma racing through on goal after playing a defence splitting pass over the top of the Arsenal defence. Maghoma darted forward towards the Arsenal goal however, Mark McGuinness managed to get back to win the ball off the Spurs midfielder. J’Neil Bennett had a shot blocked by the same Arsenal defender a couple of moments later before Arsenal broke forward down the other end through Xavier Amaechi. The pacy right winger manager to go past White before going around Lyons-Foster down the right side of the Spurs box and forcing an impressive reflex save out of Oluwayemi who managed to parry the Arsenal mans powerful effort. Spurs were eager to extend their lead before the half was up, and after Bennett shifted the ball out to Shashoua the Spurs captain gave the ball to Maghoma on the edge of the penalty area. However, Maghoma had been leaning back and he ended up side footing the ball well over Okonkwo’s crossbar, bringing to an end an enthralling first half of football. Arsenal got the second half underway and the home side started the half well.

Daley-Campbell fired an effort over Oluwayemi’s crossbar from the edge of the Tottenham penalty area before Folarin Balogun tried his luck. Substitute James Olayinka managed to pick out Balogun from his long pass up field, and the Arsenal striker was then able to beat Luis Binks before continuing into the box and firing an effort against Lyons-Foster which was tipped behind by Oluwayemi. However, It was in the 50th minute of the game that the referee made the bizarre decision to award Arsenal a penalty kick. Bukayo Saka’s lofted pass over the top of the Spurs defence had caught out Dennis Cirkin who was back defending inside the penalty area and it ended bouncing to Balogun inside the box. Oluwayemi came rushing off his line to try and get to the ball and it was at this moment that the referee thought that Oluwayemi had made some sort of foul or obstruction, and it was to the crowds amazement that he pointed to the spot and he would not listen to Oluwayemi’s demonstrations. Bukayo Saka stood up to take the resulting spot kick and the confident 17 year old was slightly fortunate to score. Saka’s curling low effort came off the inside of Oluwayemi’s left hand post before bouncing across goal and into the opposite corner of the net, 2-2. Matt Wells‘ side were desperate to respond for the second time in the game and they came close to doing just that, shortly after the restart. A wonderful free flowing move saw Maghoma pass the ball to Parrott who then gave the ball to Bennett on the edge of the Arsenal box. Bennett quickly gave the ball back to Parrott down the left side of the penalty area but the strikers effort on goal was well blocked by Mazeed Ogungbo. Jubril Okedina nodded Jamie Bowden’s resulting corner kick wide of Okonkwo’s goal before Arsenal tried to catch Spurs out at the other end of the pitch. Arsenal captain Matthew Smith’s ball over the top of the Spurs defence was met by Balogun who sprinted into the penalty area where he weaved his way around Lyons-Foster before firing an effort on goal. However, the alert Oluwayemi made another excellent reflex save to parry Balogun’s fizzing strike.

A couple of minutes later the Tottenham goalkeeper was forced into action  again, this time he tipped behind Xavier Amaechi’s powerful low strike after the Arsenal winger had cut inside from the right flank. Ben Cottrell blazed an effort over the Spurs goalkeepers crossbar shortly afterwards on the half volley, from just outside the Spurs box. Spurs managed to go on a good move at the opposite end of the pitch after Shashoua played a one two with Bennett down the right wing. Bennett managed to get past Zak Swanson down the channel before giving the ball back to Shashoua who slipped the ball into Parrott inside the Arsenal box. However, the young Dubliner ended up getting his angles all wrong and his first time effort on the turn flew towards the corner flag on the near side. James Olayinka dragged an effort wide shortly afterwards from the edge of the Spurs penalty area. Spurs didn’t have many golden chances during the second period but they did create one late chance which they really should have put away. It was another quick passing move from Spurs which resulted in Parrott passing the ball to Shashoua who spotted the run of Paris Maghoma down the left side of the Arsenal box before slipping the ball into him. Maghoma had only Okonkwo to beat but instead of opening up his body and curling the ball across goal, the 17 year old held onto the ball for that split second too long and Okonkwo was able to come out and smother the ball from the under his feet. Arsenal tried to catch our defence out at the other end through Xavier Amaechi who broke down the right flank before entering the Spurs box and firing the ball narrowly over Oluwayemi’s crossbar. Luis Binks did well to head Bukayo Saka’s pacy cross clear shortly afterwards in what was the final piece of action from normal time. Ken Gillard’s Arsenal side got the first period of extra time underway after Matt Wells had tried to motivate the Spurs players on the pitch after the final whistle had gone. After the tireless Dennis Cirkin had won a free kick right on the edge of the Arsenal penalty area, dead ball specialist Harvey White stood up to take it. And the central midfielders curling effort over the Arsenal wall ended up going narrowly over Arthur Okonkwo’s crossbar.

A matter of minutes later the tie was turned on its head after the ‘ Gunners ‘ took the lead for the first time in the game. The Tottenham defence had been caught out by a simple ball over the top by Saka. Folarin Balogun raced to meet it down the left flank before dragging the ball across the face of Oluwayemi’s goal for Xavier Amaechi to tap home at the back post, 2-3. Matt Wells reacted by making a double substitution to bring off Luis Binks for Rayan Clarke and Brooklyn Lyons-Foster for Malachi Walcott as Spurs reverted to playing three at the back. Arsenal continued to cause Spurs bother, after Saka passed the ball to Balogun inside the Spurs box the Arsenal forward managed to sort his feet out before getting a shot away on goal. However, Balogun’s powerful effort was blocked by Walcott before being gathered by Oluwayemi. We couldn’t seem to match the ‘ Gunners ‘ energy levels and after Balogun broke through the middle of the pitch before shifting the ball down the left side of the Spurs box, the 17 year old had an effort on goal blocked behind by Okedina. Then in the 102nd minute of the game Ken Gillard’s side effectively put the tie to bed. It was another good attacking move from Arsenal which the Spurs defence just couldn’t deal with. After Balogun received Olayinka’s pass he gave the ball to Amaechi at the back post but his powerful shot was parried by Oluwayemi, but Balogun was on hand to fire home on the follow up, 2-4. Captain Armando Shashoua could be seen urging his players to play the game quicker. Jubril Okedina did well to clear Amaechi’s ball into the Spurs box shortly after the restart before the referee blew for half time. Spurs got the second half of extra time underway but it was quite clear that they had lost their shape. The potent Bukayo Saka netted his second and Arsenal’s fifth goal of the game in the 108th minute. Saka was set up by Olayinka who cut the ball back to the Arsenal winger inside the Arsenal box before Saka fired an unstoppable effort into the roof of Joshua Oluwayemi’s goal, 2-5. Chay Cooper came onto replace captain Armando Shashoua before Pochettino replaced Parrott shortly afterwards. In between both of those substitutions Folarin Balogun had blazed an effort wide of the Spurs goal from range.

We had a late penalty shout after substitute Sam Greenwood appeared to trip Paris Maghoma inside the Arsenal box, but no penalty kick was given by the referee. Arsenal did have one late chance to extend their lead after the newly introduced Trae Coyle pulled the ball back across the Spurs goal to Balogun in the centre of the box however, the Arsenal centre forward ended up poking the ball narrowly wide of Oluwayemi’s goal. The referee blew for full time a couple of moments later to end Spurs’ run in the FA youth cup this season. It was a devastating result for Matt Wells‘ side who suffered their first defeat of the season in such unfortunate circumstances. It was a crushing defeat for the young Lilywhites to suffer in a game in which they looked as if they were going to win after playing so well in the first half. However, we needed that two goal cushion and we just couldn’t get it, and that along with a bizarre Arsenal penalty cost us in the end. The players can be very proud of their efforts against Arsenal and it was a game in which they gave their very all in. After the final whistle you could see the disappointment etched across the faces of every single Spurs player, that in itself is a learning curve for the wonder boys from Hotspur Way who will be looking to bounce back next Friday when they face Derby County, in the quarter finals of the Premier League Cup. I was very proud of the players efforts on Thursday evening.

Player reviews:

  • Joshua Oluwayemi: The 17 year old made five saves in our 5-2 defeat to Arsenal on Thursday evening and the commanding goalkeeper made a couple of really good reflex saves. Oluwayemi commanded his box well and  on the whole he dealt well with set pieces. The second year scholars save to deny Folarin Balogun’s powerful effort from close range in the second half, was top quality. After the end of the match the young goalkeeper took time out to shake Spurs supporters hands behind his goal.
  • Jubril Okedina: The 18 year old played the majority of the game at right back before later going onto play on the right side of a back three during extra time. I thought that Okedina put in a really good shift for Spurs at right back where he defended well against the speedy Bukayo Saka down that side of the pitch. The South Londoner was good on the ball and he held his position well. Okedina also made a number of important blocks and challenges against Arsenal.
  • Brooklyn Lyons-Foster: The ball playing centre half operated at RCB against the ‘ Gunners ‘ where I thought he put in a decent shift for the young Lilywhites. Although Lyons-Foster was unlucky with his passing on the night, the elegant defender managed to cut out some dangerous Arsenal attacks and after he was brought off during extra time we looked more vulnerable at the back.
  • Luis Binks: The authoritative centre half operated at LCB against Arsenal and I personally thought that Binks had a good game. He was faultless in defence for Matt Wells‘ side and he was excellent in the air while also making some crucial defensive interventions with his feet. The England under 18 international was involved in our second goal of the game after he played a positive pass out to Dennis Cirkin on the left wing.
  • Dennis Cirkin: The left back was one of the Spurs players who had a very good game. From a defensive and attacking point of view the 16 year old put in an excellent shift and he did a good job at keeping the speedy Xavier Amaechi in check for large periods of the match. As always Cirkin was able to combine both roles well and while he did an excellent job at overlapping Maghoma down the left hand side and going on purposeful attacking runs down the channel, Cirkin also did his defensive duties diligently. Playing a big part in our second goal of the game after going on a good run down the channel the fullback also made some really important interceptions and challenges and he played with a real bite about him. His stamina was really impressive. Cirkin has been excellent for our under 18 side so far this season.
  • Jamie Bowden: The development squad regular dropped down to our under 18 side for Thursday nights important match. Bowden teamed up well with Harvey White in the middle of the park and he did a good job at breaking up play and creating chances for the forwards, with a number of fine passes over the top of the ‘ Gunners ‘ defence. Bowden and White’s task of patrolling the midfield was a difficult one considering the quality of the Arsenal midfield.
  • Harvey White: Like his slightly older midfield partner Bowden, Harvey White did a good job in central midfield where he helped to protect the back four. White broke up play to great effect and his distribution impressed me however, it was his hard work off the ball and his urge to drop deep and help out the defence which really caught my eye. The first year scholars corner kicks and free kicks were well taken.
  • J’Neil Bennett: The agile winger played out on the right wing where for periods of the match he looked really dangerous with his jinking forward runs. Bennett’s major contribution to the match was his goal to put us 2-1 up towards the end of the first half. It was a well taken goal by the 17 year old who clinically slotted home from Paris Maghoma’s pass inside the Arsenal penalty area.
  • Armando Shashoua: My motm, see below.
  • Paris Maghoma: The silky midfielder played as a left forward and even though he played out of position Maghoma still made a big impact on the game. With his ridiculously high work rate and willingness to track back after him Maghoma had a good balance about his game. And the England under 18 international really flourished down the left wing where he would look to pick the ball up and cut inside before dribbling at the Arsenal defence. Maghoma was involved in both of our goals, for our first goal he did well to recycle possession out wide before initiating the move which would lead to our opener. Whereas our second goal was created directly by Maghoma who kept a cool head before unselfishly picking out Bennett down the right side of the Arsenal penalty area. Maghoma created countless other goal scoring opportunities for his teammates, and he had a couple of chances of his own from which he would have hoped to have done better from.
  • Troy Parrott: The Ireland under 19 international led the line well for Spurs and he put in another really good shift up top. Parrot impressed with his exceptional work rate and defensive contribution to the game. The 16 year did well to set up Armando Shashoua’s opener and he made some really good runs through the middle.
  • Rayan Clarke: The winger came on in extra time but he was unable to make much of an impact on the game.
  • Malachi Walcott: Like Rayan Clarke, Walcott was introduced in the first half of extra time when he came onto play on the right side of the back three.
  • Chay Cooper: The 17 year old creative midfielder worked hard to try and influence the game after he was introduced in the second half of extra time. Cooper used the ball positively out on the left wing.
  • Maurizio Pochettino: It was only a very fleeting cameo for the Barcelona born wide man who didn’t see much of the ball during his time on the pitch.

My man of the match: Our under 18’s captain fantastic Armando Shashoua was  by far our most creative and effective player on Thursday night. The dynamic midfielder played as a number ten against Arsenal and it was his typically energetic performance in the hole which created so many good chances for the likes of Parrott and Maghoma. Shashoua put in a faultless display and there were so many positives which you could focus on from his game. Armando’s movement was electric and his ability to constantly create space for himself was something which the Arsenal defence just couldn’t deal with. Shashoua’s goal was well taken after he tapped home Troy Parrot’s pull back from close range early on in the game. However, it was the West Londoners link up play with the the wide men J’Neil Bennett and Paris Maghoma which helped to make Spurs such a force going forward. Shashoua worked tirelessly to help out his team at both ends of the pitch. From a creative point of view the Spurs captain created the most chances of anyone on the pitch. The creative midfielder used the ball intelligently and it was his vision, guile and unbelievable work rate which like so often this season has allowed Spurs to play the way that they do. Shashoua did well to clear Xavier Amaechi’s header off the line during the first half and his ball retention rate was as good as usual. Apart from his superb performance it is also worth noting that Armando led the team really well and he could constantly be seen telling players where to play and how to play E.g. encouraging the team to play quicker or with more energy. After Thursdays match the 18 year old has now been directly involved in 15 of our under 18’s goals this season.

Arsenal: Okonkwo, Daley-Campbell, Swanson (Lopez 90), Smith (c), McGuinness, Ogungbo, Amaechi, McEneff (Olayinka 46), Balogun (Coyle 113), Cottrell (Greenwood 116), Saka. Substitute (not used): Graczyk.

Spurs: Oluwayemi, Okedina, Cirkin, White, Lyons-Foster (Walcott 98), Binks (Clarke 98), Bennett, Bowden, Parrott (Pochettino 112), A Shashoua (c, Cooper 109), Maghoma. Substitute (not used): Kurylowicz.

Goals: Arsenal – Cottrell 13, Saka 51 (pen), 108, Amaechi 95, Balogun 102; 

Spurs – A Shashoua 8, Bennett 34.

Yellow cards: Arsenal – McGuinness 68, Smith 80.

Referee: Robert Whitton.

Venue: Meadow Park, Boreham Wood FC.

Attendance: 946.

Spurs under 18’s statistics 2018/19:

Goals scored: Troy Parrott – 12

J’Neil Bennett –  8

Dilan Markanday – 7

Rayan Clarke – 7

Rodel Richards – 5

Armando Shashoua – 5

Harvey White – 4

Luis Binks – 3

Paris Maghoma – 3

Dennis Cirkin – 2

Jeremie Mukendi – 2

Brooklyn Lyons-Foster – 2

Phoenix Patterson – 2

Maurizio Pochettino – 1

Jubril Okedina – 1

Assists: Harvey White – 11

Armando Shashoua – 10

Troy Parrott – 6

Jamie Bowden – 5

Phoenix Patterson – 4

Rayan Clarke – 4

Dilan Markanday – 3

Rodel Richards – 3

J’Neil Bennett – 3

Brooklyn Lyons-Foster – 2

Dennis Cirkin – 2

Paris Maghoma – 2

Maurizio Pochettino – 1

Malachi Walcott – 1

Luis Binks – 1

Rafferty Pedder – 1

Maxwell Statham – 1

Jeremie Mukendi – 1

Elliot Thorpe – 1

Clean sheets: Joshua Oluwayemi – 5

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