Spurs under 23’s 5-4 Athletic Bilbao B: (match report)
Our under 23’s secured their place in the quarter finals of this seasons Premier League International Cup in style on Wednesday evening, by beating Spanish club Athletic Bilbao B 5-4 to go through as group winners. It was an exhilarating game of football and it was one in which both sides deserved to get something out of. However, it was Wayne Burnett’s resilient side who triumphed on the night. ‘ Los Leones ‘ fielded an older side than us on average but we were bolstered once again by the inclusion of Netherlands international Vincent Janssen who played the whole of Wednesdays match. It was a pulsating end to end game with chances aplenty at both ends of the pitch, but it was the maturity and determination of Spurs which saw them overcome the club from the Basque Country to go through to the quarter finals of the competition as group winners. It was a fiercely competitive game but despite the best attempts of the Bilbao players to wind up our lads by kicking and pulling at them, Burnett’s side managed to keep their cool for most of the game. It was a crazy match which was played at a high tempo on a bitterly cold night in Stevenage. Wayne Burnett’s side started the game really well and after Anthony Georgiou set up Vincent Janssen who opened the scoring after just three minutes the young Lilywhites looked to double their advantage straight from the restart. And on 15 minutes Spurs managed to do just that, thanks to a sumptuous free kick from Jack Roles. Spurs did have further chances to extend their lead before the half was up but Aritz Solabarrieta’s Bilbao side grew into the game as the half progressed, and they managed to pull a goal back just before halftime through their top scorer this season Asier Villalibre. However, Athletic Bilbao started the second half superbly well and it was only thanks to Jonathan De Bie that it took the Spanish side until 59 minute to draw level through Inigo Vicente. Athletic Bilbao continued to threaten our defence and they took the lead for the first time in the game through Victor San Bartolome less than four minutes later.
Spurs did strike back and thanks to a nice move involving Jack Roles and Vincent Janssen the former made it 3-3 with a smart finish from inside the penalty area. 20 year old winger Shilow Tracey was brought on shortly afterwards and it was the direct winger who really changed the game in Spurs‘ favour. After latching onto Jack Roles‘ clever pass down the right flank Tracey powered forward into the Bilbao penalty area before finishing emphatically past their goalkeeper Hodei Oleaga to make it 4-3 on 82 minutes. And Spurs‘ resurgence was completed when Anthony Georgiou netted his first goal of the season to turn home Shilow Tracey’s low cross to make it 5-3 less than five minutes later. The visitors did manage to pull a goal back in stoppage time through substitute Asier Benito but it wasn’t to matter as Spurs managed to hold on comfortably to record a quite incredible 5-4 win over the experienced Athletic Bilbao side, to book their place in the quarter finals of the competition. It was a very good team performance from Spurs even though some of our defending wasn’t great, it was a performance which showed real character and class to get back into the game after letting a two goal lead slip away. Our attacking players such as Anthony Georgiou, Shilow Tracey, Jack Roles and Vincent Janssen all played a massive part in helping us to overcome the Basque club on Wednesday evening. For the second consecutive game Wayne Burnett’s side lined up in a 4-1-4-1 formation, with Belgian under 19 international international Jonathan De Bie making a rare start in goal for Spurs. A back four of Tariq Hinds, captain Japhet Tanganga, TJ Eyoma and 16 year old left back Dennis Cirkin on his first appearance for the development side, lined up in front of De Bie. George Marsh operated in the holding midfield role while Tashan Oakley-Boothe and Jack Roles played in central midfield, either side of wingers Anthony Georgiou and Shayon Harrison. And Netherlands international Vincent Janssen led the line for the development side for the fourth consecutive game.
Spurs got the game underway on a bitterly cold Wednesday night at the Lamex Stadium and Wayne Burnett’s side started the game well, and after a couple of good passes they took the lead after just three minutes through Vincent Janssen. It was the perfect start for Spurs and it was a really nice move which led to the goal. After Vincent Janssen shifted the ball out to Anthony Georgiou down the left wing the Cyprus international burst forward down the channel before stopping and waiting for Janssen to run into the Bilbao penalty area. Once Janssen had arrived into the box Georgiou laid off a perfectly weighted pass for the Dutchman who slid in between two Bilbao defenders, before prodding the ball into the bottom right hand corner of Hodei Oleaga’s goal, 1-0. Shortly after the restart Jonathan De Bie got his first touch of the ball of the game after he gathered Inigo Vicente’s cross into the Tottenham penalty area. The Belgium under 19 international managed to hold Vicente’s curling low effort from the edge of the Spurs box a couple of moments later, after he had received Gaizka Larrazabal’s pass. Both sides had looked dangerous going forward during the opening stages of the game and after Vincent Janssen passed the ball to Jack Roles, the Cyprus under 21 international managed to win a free kick right on the edge of the Athletic Bilbao penalty area. Jack Roles stood up to take the resulting free kick and the inform 19 year old managed to curl the ball up and over the Athletic Bilbao wall and into the bottom left hand corner of the goal, 2-0. It was a fantastic goal from Roles whose free kick had enough curl and pace on it to beat Hodei Oleaga even though he had been at full stretch. ‘ Los Leones ‘ tried to respond through Vicente who managed to get on the end of Larrazabal’s lofted pass at Jonathan De Bie’s back post, but Vicente’s headed effort was comfortably gathered by De Bie. TJ Eyoma managed to block Inigo Vicente’s effort on goal shortly afterwards, a couple of moments before the same player came close to pulling a goal back for the visitors.
After powering forward through the middle Vicente attempted to beat De Bie with a powerful curling effort from 15 yards out, but the alert Belgian goalkeeper did well to get down and push the ball away from danger. The game was being played at a very high tempo as both sides really attacked one another. George Marsh had a speculative effort from range comfortably saved by Oleaga before Anthony Georgiou caused some anxiety amongst the Bilbao defence. After latching onto TJ Eyoma’s pass down the left flank the speedy winger managed to work his way around Jon Sillero before whipping a dangerous ball into the box, which was only just about gathered by Oleaga. Vincent Janssen picked up the first booking of the game after he was shown a yellow card for a late sliding challenge on Unai Vencedor which the Atletico defender made the very most of. The Bilbao players reacted angrily to Janssen’s challenge and young Jack Roles had to put his arm around the Dutchman to take him away from the situation. A couple of minutes later midfielder Tashan Oakley-Boothe went on an excellent surging run down the right wing before winning a free kick near to the corner flag. Anthony Georgiou’s resulting delivery was flicked on by Marsh, who then managed to keep the ball in before lobbing it in to Harrison at Oleaga’s near post, but he somehow managed to glance the ball narrowly wide of the goal. A couple of minutes later Vincent Janssen was spared the embarrassment of missing an absolute sitter when he was ruled offside, after he had side footed Japhet Tanganga’s cross over Oleaga’s crossbar, from just five yards out from goal. However, Spurs would be punished for not putting the game to bed before halftime after Asier Villalibre pulled a goal back for ‘ Los Leones ‘ in the 37th minute of the game. A sharp and incisive passing move from Solabarrieta’s side had managed to cut the Spurs defence right open. After Jon Rojo had threaded a pass through to Vincente Bilbao’s number ten managed to slip the ball into Villalibre inside the Tottenham penalty area. The Spanish centre forward managed to get in between both Eyoma and Cirkin before calmly slotting the ball past De Bie who had come out to meet him and into the bottom left hand corner of the goal, 2-1.
The Athletic Bilbao players had been in a rush to restart the game after Villalibre’s goal and it was little wonder why. After Vicente managed to pass the ball down the right side of the Spurs box to Larrazabal the winger fired an effort over De Bie’s crossbar. It is worth noting that Georgiou had went out of his way to get back in front of Larrazabal to try and put the the Bilbao man off before he took his shot. Jonathan De Bie did well to gather Imanol Garcia De Albeniz’s cross shortly afterwards as the Basque club continued to finish the half strongly. The Spurs defence were beginning to struggle with how fast the Athletic Bilbao players were moving the ball in the final third. After Unai Vencedor managed to slip the ball to Vicente down the left side of the Spurs penalty area he tried to beat De Bie with a jabbed first time effort, but the young Belgian did well to the thwart the Spaniards strike to make the save. Bilbao came close to scoring a matter of moments later through Larazzabal. After Garcia De Albeniz had passed the ball to Vicente he gave the ball to Larazzabal down the left side of the Spurs box but his clipped effort was saved relatively comfortably by the diving De Bie. And the visitors had yet another glorious chance to draw level in first half stoppage time. A clever lofted pass from Jon Sillero resulted in him picking out Jon Rojo in the middle of the Spurs box but with only De Bie to beat, the fullback ended up volleying the ball over the Belgian’s crossbar in what was to be the final piece of action from the first period. Athletic Bilbao got the second half underway and it was the club from the Basque Country who continued from where they had left off in the first half. Another one of their incisive passing moves had managed to open the Spurs defence, after Gaizka Larrazabal had been able to feed the ball into Villalibre inside the Spurs box the centre forward then tried to poke the ball past De Bie but the 18 year old managed to make a spectacular reflex save to palm the ball away from danger. Spurs then gave away a cheap penalty a couple of minutes later after TJ Eyoma was deemed to have handled the ball inside the Tottenham penalty area.
Inigo Vicente stood up to take the resulting penalty kick but the fantastic Jonathan De Bie managed to prevent Vicente by getting a leveller after he managed to get down to his left to palm away the Bilbao mans curling effort. The Tottenham goalkeeper then managed to keep out Villalibre’s effort on the follow up after spreading himself well at his near post. And the Lloris-esque goalkeeper managed to tip over Asier Villalibre’s curling effort from the edge of the Spurs box a couple of moments later as the Bilbao onslaught continued. Victor San Bartolome had an effort on goal headed away by Japhet Tanganga before the Tottenham defender managed to clear Jon Rojo’s pacy cross. Spurs were being completely outplayed by the Basque club who had really upped their tempo during the opening stages of the second half. Asier Villalibre headed narrowly over after meeting Jon Rojo’s cross inside the Spurs box before Jonathan De Bie did well to push away Inigo Vicente’s low cross after another good passage of play from the away side. Spurs were somehow managing to hold on and De Bie did well to keep out a deflected effort on goal from Vicente before Aritz Solabarrieta’s side managed to open us up again with their quick short passing football. After Inigo Vicente had darted through the middle of the park he slipped the ball through to Imanol Garcia De Albeniz down the left side of the Spurs box, but fortunately for De Bie the wide man ended up firing the ball narrowly over the Belgian’s crossbar. ‘ Los Leones ‘ were all over us and it looked as if we would be unable to stop them. After Young Dennis Cirkin gave away a free kick on the edge of the Spurs box after committing a foul on Larrazabal. The same players resulting delivery into the Tottenham penalty area was cleared by Cirkin and it allowed Spurs to break forward through Janssen who ran at the Athletic Bilbao defence before shifting the ball out to Harrison down the left flank, but the 21 year olds resulting powerful low effort on goal was held by Oleaga. After a sustained spell of pressure ‘ Los Leones ‘ finally managed to get their equaliser and it stemmed from some sloppy passing out from the back by Spurs.
Spurs had been caught out while trying to play out from the back after a short pass from De Bie to George Marsh inside the box had put the Spurs midfielder under pressure. Marsh had been quickly intercepted by Villalibre who passed the ball to Vicente who then fired the ball past De Bie from close range, 2-2. The visitors needed to win in order to progress to the quarter finals and that is exactly what they set out to do after the restart. Larrazabal tested De Bie after coming in from the right flank and testing the Belgian who managed to hold his powerful low effort. However, De Bie could do nothing to prevent Victor San Bartolome from putting Bilbao in front for the first time in the game, a matter of minutes later. The goal had been coming and after Unai Vencedor had given the ball to Vicente he squared the ball to San Bartolome on the edge of the Tottenham penalty area and the Spanish midfielder managed to fire the ball past the Tottenham goalkeeper and into the bottom right hand corner of the goal, sparking jubilant scenes amongst the Bilbao players, 2-3. That goal seemed to spark Spurs back into life and just three minutes after going behind the young Lilywhites managed to draw level through Jack Roles. After Dennis Cirkin had passed the ball to Janssen inside the Athletic Bilbao box the Spurs forward quickly gave the ball to Roles who managed to work his way around Bilbao defender Gorka Pérez before slotting the ball into the bottom right hand corner of Oleaga’s goal, 3-3. Jon Rojo whipped a menacing cross across the face of Jonathan De Bie’s goal shortly after the restart before Japhet Tanganga almost managed to pick out Janssen inside the oppositions box with a nice floated cross. The game continued to be played at a frantic pace as both sides continued to play at a high intensity, Jonathan De Bie managed to save Inigo Vicente’s curling effort from range before Spurs threatened down the other end through Vincent Janssen. After the centre forward had burst into the Bilbao penalty area he had an effort blocked behind for a corner kick by Jon Rojo. However, he had failed to spot Georgiou who had managed to ghost in at the back post.
Anthony Georgiou’s resulting corner kick was headed over by Shayon Harrison before Wayne Burnett made his first changes of the game. Tashan Oakley-Boothe and George Marsh were replaced by Dylan Duncan and Shilow Tracey as Spurs reverted to a 4-2-3-1 formation. And the newly introduced Shilow Tracey made an almost instant impact after he regained Spurs’ lead in the 82nd minute of the game. After Jack Roles had picked the ball up in the middle of the park he swivelled around before spotting the run of Tracey down the right wing and then playing a perfectly weighted pass into the feet of the Spurs winger, who continued down the right side of the Athletic Bilbao penalty area before firing the ball emphatically past Oleaga at his near post, 4-3. Athletic Bilbao tried to respond through Villalibre but the striker ended up volleying substitute Asier Benito’s cross well over De Bie’s crossbar from inside the Spurs box. Then in the 87th minute of time Spurs finally managed to put the game to bed through the tireless Anthony Georgiou who managed to find the back of the net for the first time since April 2018. After Janssen had managed to control Dylan Duncan’s pass the powerful Dutchman laid the ball off to Tracey down the right side of the Bilbao penalty area. Instead of shooting, Tracey unselfishly pulled the ball back across the face of the goal for the sliding Georgiou to convert at the back post and he managed to hit the ball into the roof of the goal, 5-3. Gazika Larrazabal tried to have a go at Jack Roles shortly afterwards for an off the ball incident but Roles‘ fellow countryman Anthony Georgiou wasn’t having any of it and he stepped in to hold back the furious Larrazabal. Wayne Burnett’s resurgent side continued to attack the Athletic Bilbao defence and after Shilow Tracey won a free kick out on the right flank, Tariq Hinds almost managed to pick out Janssen at the back post from his resulting delivery. The visitors did however, manage to pull a goal back in stoppage time through substitute Asier Benito after he received Villalibre’s pass down the right side of the Spurs box before firing the ball into the bottom right hand corner of of the goal, 5-4. However, there was no time for Aritz Solabarrieta’s side to find an equaliser and the referee Tom Reeves blew for full time shortly afterwards.
It was without a shadow of a doubt the most dramatic and emotionally charged game that our development side have been involved in this season, but it was also a game from which they will be able to take so many positives from. Our under 23’s next game is not until the fourth of February when we face Brighton in the PL2. The draw for the quarter finals of the Premier League International cup should take place at the beginning of next month.
- Jonathan De Bie: It may have been only his second appearance for the under 23 side this season, but the Belgian under 19 international was absolutely outstanding in goal for Spurs on Wednesday night. De Bie made an astonishing 11 saves in total against the club from the Basque Country and the 18 year old impressed in so many other aspects of his game. De Bie made about four top quality saves against Athletic Bilbao but the two which impressed me the most was the one to deny Inigo Vicente from the penalty spot, and his magnificent reflex save to deny Asier Villalibre from close range. De Bie dealt well with crosses and set pieces and his distribution, which apart from making a costly error in the second half was superb all night.
- Tariq Hinds: The right back had a good game on the whole and I thought that he got up and down the right flank well while also maintaining a good defensive discipline about him. Although he was more impressive going forward I thought that the 18 year old defended well against Athletic Bilbao winger Imanol Garcia De Albeniz.
- Japhet Tanganga: The skipper had a good game at RCB where I thought that he dealt well with the threat of Athletic’s centre Asier Villalibre. Tanganga did well at bringing the ball out from the back and his passing was also good. The 19 year old made a couple of important blocks and defensive interventions.
- TJ Eyoma: The 18 year old centre half had a good game alongside Tanganga where I thought that he snuffed out and anticipated danger well. Eyoma also looked very good on the ball against the Basque club.
- Dennis Cirkin: This was the 16 year olds debut at this level and the first year scholar stepped up well at left back where I thought that he had a really good game. Cirkin got up and down flank well and he wasn’t afraid to take players on down the opposite end of the pitch. The Dubliner made some good strong challenges and defensively speaking he dealt really well with the threat that was posed by Gaizka Larrazabal down the wing. Cirkin put in a confident performance for Wayne Burnett’s side and while he was defensively sound I was particularly impressed with his attacking forays and close ball control. Cirkin also played a part in our third goal of the game.
- George Marsh: For the second consecutive game Marsh operated in the holding midfield role, and during his 81 minutes on the pitch I personally thought that he put in a decent and combative performance.
- Shayon Harrison: The 21 year old played the majority of the game out on the right wing where he worked hard to try and impact the game. Harrison was involved in some nice moves down the right flank but it was only when he moved into the hole during the latter stages of the game that he really started to look like a goal threat. The forward came close to finding the back of the net on a couple of occasions throughout the match. This was the first full match that Harrison has played since September following his return from injury.
- Tashan Oakley-Boothe: The under 17 World Cup winner played in central midfield on Wednesday and he impressed going forward while also moving the ball around well in the middle of the park. Oakley-Boothe went on some really nice bursting runs through the middle of the park and down the right flank which caused the Athletic Bilbao defence quite a few problems.
- Jack Roles: The inform midfielder started in central midfield for the second consecutive game but the Cyprus under 21 managed to chip in with two goals and an assist. Roles was heavily involved in the final third where he posed a real goal threat. The 19 year old worked hard in order to try and influence the game and you can’t argue with how big a role he played in helping Spurs to win the game. Roles scored a wonderful free kick to make it 2-0 to Spurs early on in the game before then making it 3-3 with a really smart finish from inside the Athletic Bilbao penalty area. However, it was Roles‘ excellent pass and vision to set up Shilow Tracey for our fourth goal of the game which was arguably one of the most important moments in the game.
- Anthony Georgiou: My motm, see below.
- Vincent Janssen: The 24 year old Netherlands international led the line well for the fourth consecutive game for our development side on Wednesday night, and Janssen capped off another fine performance by chipping in with a goal and an assist. Janssen’s off the ball work and movement was impressive, as was his hold up play and link up play with Jack Roles who he has shown a real understanding with over recent games. The centre forward played with a real hunger about his game and after doing well to convert Anthony Georgiou’s cross early on in the game he went onto set up two further goals. I have been really impressed with the Dutchman since he returned from injury at the beginning of the month and it is great to see him playing with such confidence again.
- Shilow Tracey: The 20 year old has had a tough time with injuries so far this season but the former Ebbsfleet United man really showed what he is capable of when he came off the bench for Burnett’s side with only nine minutes remaining, against Athletic Bilbao. Tracey proved to be our super sub and it was the right winger who changed the game in Spurs‘ favour. Tracey was nice and direct with the ball at his feet and after receiving Jack Roles‘ pass shortly after coming on he went on a lung bursting run into the Bilbao penalty area before powering emphatically past Oleaga. Tracey then did really well to set up Anthony Georgiou shortly afterwards to make it 5-3 and it was the 20 year olds purposeful runs which really opened up the tiring Athletic Bilbao defence.
- Dylan Duncan: The central midfielder only made a very fleeting cameo but he did look tidy when he was in possession and he moved the ball about well.
My man of the match: For the second game in a row my man of the match award goes to left winger Anthony Georgiou for his sterling performance against Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday night. While a lot of you will assume that I am giving it to him for his goal and assist, it was his selfless tracking back in order to help out and cover for the inexperienced Dennis Cirkin which really proved to be so crucial to us winning the game. The 21 year old could be seen giving advice to Cirkin throughout the match and he helped him to deal with Athletic Bilbao winger Gaizka Larrazabal. The hard working winger also had an excellent game going forward with his trademark surging runs. Georgiou managed to get the better of their right back Jon Sillero who found it extremely difficult to track the lively Spurs man. Georgiou did well to set up Vincent Janssen’s opener with a really intelligent pass into the Bilbao penalty area. And for the remainder of the game he pumped in some inviting crosses into the oppositions penalty area and he made some clever late runs into the box. A very good performance from Georgiou was capped off in style after he managed to convert Shilow Tracey’s low cross late on in the game. That was Georgiou’s first goal since last April and the delight on his face was plain to see. I would love to see him appear on the bench for our first team on Sunday against Crystal Palace in the FA cup. The Lewisham born winger has been playing so well since he returned from injury back in December.
Spurs: De Bie, Hinds, Cirkin, Marsh (Tracey 81), Tanganga (c), Eyoma, Harrison, Oakley-Boothe (Duncan 77), Janssen, Roles, Georgiou. Substitutes (not used): Freeman, Tainio.
Athletic Club Bilbao: Oleaga, Sillero, Rojo, Bernaola, Perez (c; Murua, 13), Vencedor, Larrazabal, Bartolome (Benito 79), Villalibre, Vicente, Albeniz (Salado 73). Substitutes (not used): Zarraga, Iruarrizaga, Prados, Artola.
Goals: Spurs – Janssen 4, Roles 15, 65, Tracey 82, Georgiou 86; Athletic Bilbao – Villalibre 38, Vicente 60, 90+2, Bartolome 64.
Yellow cards: Spurs – Janssen 32; Athletic Bilbao – Larrazabal 34, Sillero 53.
Referee: Tom Reeves.
Venue: Lamex Stadium, Stevenage.
Spurs under 21/23’s statistics 2018/19:
Goals scored: Jack Roles – 8
Shayon Harrison – 5
Kazaiah Sterling – 5
Paris Maghoma – 4
Jaden Brown – 2
Vincent Janssen – 2
Samuel Shashoua – 1
Marcus Edwards – 1
Dylan Duncan – 1
Phoenix Patterson – 1
Harvey White – 1
Tashan Oakley-Boothe -1
Shilow Tracey – 1
Anthony Georgiou – 1
Assists: Jack Roles – 6
Kazaiah Sterling – 3
Vincent Janssen – 3
Paris Maghoma – 2
J’Neil Bennett – 2
Jaden Brown – 2
Troy Parrott – 1
Shayon Harrison – 1
Oliver Skipp – 1
Tashan Oakley-Boothe – 1
Dylan Duncan – 1
Jamie Bowden – 1
George Marsh – 1
Tariq Hinds – 1
Anthony Georgiou – 1
Shilow Tracey – 1
Clean sheets: Brandon Austin – 2
Alfie Whiteman – 1