Spurs under 18’s versus Southampton: (match preview)
After suffering back to back defeats for the first time this season, Matt Wells top of the table under 18 side return to league action on Saturday when they’ll be looking to bounce back against inform Southampton at Hotspur Way. Matt Wells‘ side will be looking to return to winning ways against Southampton on Saturday, after the great disappointment of being knocked out of both the FA youth cup and Premier League Cup in such a short space of time. A lot has happened since we last met the ‘ Saints ‘ in the reverse fixture back in September at their Staplewood training ground when we beat them 5-2 in a thrilling game down on the south coast. The ‘ Saints ‘ under 18 side who are now managed by Paul Hardyman have enjoyed a good season so far and after enjoying a good recent spell of form they currently sit in sixth place in the league table. Like ourselves, Southampton have already been knocked out of both the FA youth cup and the Premier League cup. Long famed for their academy set up the ‘ Saints ‘ have another good group of first and year scholars this season. Centre forward Christian Norton (17) is Southampton’s top scorer at this level this season with eight goals and he has been a regular starter for their under 18’s during recent games. Young Irish left back Kameron Ledwidge is a very solid defender, while highly rated French youngster Allan Tchaptchet is a very accomplished centre half who has impressed this season for Southampton’s under 18 side. However, it is another Irish youth international in Will Ferry who I will go into greater detail on later, who is arguably the ‘ Saints ‘ biggest attacking threat. Our last meeting with Southampton was a very interesting one. It was a game in which Matt Wells‘ side dominated and won comfortably however, it was also a game where the hosts showcased their attacking quality in the final third and they certainly worked our defence through wide players Rio Glean and Will Ferry. I would imagine that Spurs will field a stronger side to the one that lost against Derby County last Friday and I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see Troy Parrott return to the side after his recent involvement with the first team in training.
Funnily enough Parrott actually played for Southampton at the Milk Cup in Ireland as a schoolboy, prior to joining us back in 2016. This weekends match is a big one for our under 18’s in their quest to win the Premier League South. This is also an opportunity for Spurs to put some distance between second place Arsenal who face third place Chelsea on the same day. Southampton like to play attacking football and this could be to our under 18’s advantage on Saturday morning. Another positive is the fact that Southampton’s under 23 side are playing away to Manchester United on the Friday night, this will likely mean that some of Hardyman’s most talented under 18 players won’t be available for Saturday’s league game. This will be another tough test for the young Lilywhites when Southampton come to Enfield on Saturday, they are on a good run in the league and they have won three of their last four league games. I wish Matt Wells‘ side all the very best of luck for Saturday’s game, my in-depth match report of our encounter with the ‘ Saints ‘ will be published on Sunday.
My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Oluwayemi, Lyons-Foster, Walcott, Binks, White, Bowden, A.Shashoua (c), Bennett, Thorpe, Clarke, Parrott.
Subs from: Kurylowicz, Tainio, Okedina, Pochettino, Asante.
Injured/unavailable: Jeremie Mukendi, Rafferty Pedder, Rodel Richards.
Doubtful: Enoch Asante, Dilan Markanday, Phoenix Patterson, Dennis Cirkin (possible involvement with the under 23 side the following day).
Previous meeting: Spurs 5-2.
My score prediction: Spurs 4-2.
My one to watch: Ireland under 19 international Will Ferry had a fantastic game for the ‘ Saints ‘ in our 5-2 victory over them in September. Ferry is a very skilful and unpredictable winger and he really made Maximus Tainio work hard in that 5-2 win earlier in the season. The Bury born second year scholar has scored six goals for Southampton’s under 18 side so far this season.