Spurs under 23’s 0-4 Arsenal: (match report)

Spurs under 23’s 0-4 Arsenal: (match report)

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Our under 23’s returned to PL2 action on Friday evening when they hosted bitter rivals Arsenal at the Lamex stadium. However, it was a night of torment for Wayne Burnett’s side, who to put it quite frankly were torn to shreds by the ‘ Gunners ‘ for large periods of Friday’s game. Our out of form development side had to try and compete with an Arsenal side, which included a number of players who have played for the ‘ Gunners ‘ first team (five to be exact). When you take into consideration the quality of the players that Arsenal fielded, players such as Greece under 21 international Konstantinos Mavropanos, Joe Willock and Eddie Nketiah it was unsurprising that it was such a one sided North London Derby. Arsenal overpowered us in the middle of the park and their quick passing and razor sharp movement allowed them to pick us apart. Without a natural central forward up top Wayne Burnett’s side struggled to play around Shilow Tracey. And although they did improve during the second half Spurs were unable to create many clear cut chances on the night, that and their slow passing were two major factors why we struggled so badly on the night. Freddie Ljunberg’s Arsenal side started the game well and after a sharp, incisive passing move the ‘ Gunners ‘ took the lead in the fourth minute of the game through Joe Willock. The away side continued to trouble our defence in the minutes that followed, and they started to grow in confidence. After creating a couple of good goal scoring chances Ljunberg’s side doubled their lead in the 25th minute from the penalty spot. After George Marsh had given away a cheap penalty for a handball inside the area, Charlie Gilmour stood up to calmly tuck the ball past Brandon Austin to double the visitors lead. Arsenal continued to dominate the game and Spurs were unable to respond. Joe Willock capped off another good passing move with his second goal of the game, to make it 3-0 in the 32nd minute. Wayne Burnett’s side did play considerably better during the second period as the likes of Jack Roles, J’Neil Bennett and Paris Maghoma started to get a lot more involved in the game. However, any chances of a Tottenham comeback were virtually extinguished less than two minutes into the second half after the potent Eddie Nketiah punished a sloppy back pass from Jack Roles by going around Austin and making it 4-0.

Spurs did battle well during the second half and they put up a good fight against the ‘ Gunners ‘ and they were unlucky not to pull a goal back, after creating some really good chances. At the end of the day Arsenal were the much better side and they had far more quality in their ranks than we did. This difficult game will be a big learning curve for Wayne Burnett’s young side, who following Friday nights defeat have now been well and truly sucked into this seasons relegation battle. Spurs lined up in a 4-1-4-1 formation against their bitter rivals Arsenal on a cool Friday evening at the Lamex stadium, in Stevenage. Brandon Austin started in goal for Spurs while a back four consisting of Tariq Hinds, TJ Eyoma, captain Japhet Tanganga and young Dennis Cirkin lined up in front of him. George Marsh operated as the holding midfielder, with Paris Maghoma and J’Neil Bennett starting out on the flanks, either side of our two central midfielders Tashan Oakley-Boothe and Jack Roles. 20 year old forward Shilow Tracey led the line for Wayne Burnett’s side for the first time since pre-season. Spurs got the game underway in front of a fair crowd of both Tottenham and Arsenal supporters. Freddie Ljunberg’s side started to move the ball around well during the opening minutes of the game, and they were playing with a real attacking intent about them. After initiating a good passing move the ‘ Gunners ‘ stunned Spurs when they took the lead after just four minutes of action through their inform midfielder Joe Willock. The Spurs defence had been opened up by the first real meaningful attack from the away side. After Eddie Nketiah had passed the ball to the speedy Bukayo Saka down the left flank, the winger managed to pick out Xavier Amaechi who was in space down the right side of the Tottenham penalty area. Amaechi quickly passed the ball into the feet of Willock who clinically slotted the ball past the helpless Brandon Austin, 0-1. It had been a cheap early goal to concede for Spurs, who had been unable to keep up with the movement of the Arsenal forwards.

Ljunberg’s side continued to move the ball about well and they were playing with a lot of width about them. The referee Josh Smith waived away a penalty appeal from the visitors after TJ Eyoma had made a sliding challenge on Eddie Nketiah inside the Tottenham penalty area. Shilow Tracey was unable to get to George Marsh’s through ball at the other end of the pitch and Arsenal’s goalkeeper Deyan Iliev was was able to smother the ball in time. A couple of minutes later Spurs created a decent chance to draw level. After Marsh had passed the ball to Bennett down the left wing the wide man sped past Arsenal’s  Jordi Osei-Tutu before shifting the ball into the feet of Shilow Tracey inside the penalty area. However, the makeshift centre forward was unable to sort his feet out in time and Iliev managed to close him down and get to the ball, before winning a free kick. It was becoming apparent that our final ball was lacking, as the half progressed. Our skipper Japhet Tanganga produced an important piece of defending at the opposite end of the pitch, after he made a crucial interception on the advancing Xavier Amaechi on the edge of the Spurs penalty area. A couple of moments later George Marsh was warned by the referee for a strong challenge on Danny Ballard which caused Freddie Ljunberg to lose his cool on the sidelines. Therefore it was quite ironic that the Tottenham midfielder gave away a penalty kick a matter of minutes later. After attempting to win the ball off of Xavier Amaechi inside the Spurs box, Marsh blatantly handled the bouncing ball, giving the referee no other option but to point to the spot. Young Scottish midfielder Charlie Gilmour stood up to take the resulting spot kick and Gilmour made no mistake from seven yards out. The midfielder calmly tucked the ball past Austin and into the bottom right hand corner of the 20 year olds goal, 0-2. Wayne Burnett’s side tried hard to respond and they almost managed to create a good chance shortly after the restart. After Spurs had broke forward through the middle of the pitch, Jack Roles attempted to play a quick one two with Shilow Tracey. Roles received the ball back but he ran out of steam as he attempted to dart into the penalty area, and he was intercepted by Arsenal’s Danny Ballard.

Arsenal responded through Eddie Nketiah who came close to making it 3-0 to the home side, after he latched onto Joe Willock’s through ball down the left side of the Spurs box. However, Nketiah’s powerful effort was saved well by the diving Austin who somehow managed to tip the ball over the crossbar. Arsenal’s third goal of the game duly arrived in the 32nd minute of the game through none other than Joe Willock. After Jordi Osei-Tutu had taken a corner kick short to Eddie Nketiah the Arsenal centre forward slipped the ball into Willock who was in vast amounts of space inside the Spurs box. Dennis Cirkin charged towards Willock to try and close down his angles but Willock kept his composure, and he cooly curled the ball into the far left hand corner of the goal, leaving Austin unable to react, as his sight had been obscured by the Tottenham players, 0-3. Austin could be seen debating with his teammate Jack Roles following Arsenal’s third goal of the game. To Spurs’ credit the players were working hard to try and change their fortunes. After Paris Maghoma passed the ball out to Bennett on the left flank the winger cut inside onto his right foot before whipping the ball into the danger zone. Tracey managed to meet Bennett’s cross but the former Ebbsfleet United man could only manage a very tame glancing header at goal, which was comfortably saved by Iliev. Arsenal broke forward down the opposite end of the pitch and after Bukayo Saka did well to keep the ball in down the left wing the England under 18 international passed the ball to Willock who fired the ball across the face of Brandon Austin’s goal. Spurs had a penalty shout waived away in first half stoppage time after Julio Pleguezuelo had appeared to catch Tashan Oakley-Boothe inside the Arsenal penalty area. The halftime whistle was sounded a couple of moments later to bring an end to a very difficult first half for Wayne Burnett’s side, who had been far too slow with the ball during the first 45 minutes of the game.

‘ The Gunners ‘ got the second half underway and it didn’t take Freddie Ljunberg’s side long before they found their rhythm once again. Arsenal made it 4-0 through Eddie Nketiah less than two minutes in to the second half. The alert Arsenal striker was able to pounce on Jack Roles‘ sloppy back pass towards Austin. The pacy centre forward worked his way around the outrushing goalkeeper before managing to squeeze the ball home from a tight angle, 0-4. The commanding Brandon Austin could be seen frantically urging his teammates on in the aftermath of Arsenal’s fourth goal of the game. After Oakley-Boothe had passed the ball to Tracey down the right side of the Arsenal box the 20 year old had a pop at goal but his powerful effort was stopped by the leg of Iliev. The ‘ Gunners ‘ then went straight down the other end after Willock passed the ball to Saka who attempted to play Nketiah through on goal, but Tanganga was on hand to cut Saka’s pass out. A couple of minutes later Tariq Hinds had a cross cleared by Konstantinos Mavropanos before Jack Roles won a free kick out on the right flank. However, Maghoma’s resulting free kick flashed right across the face of Iliev’s goal before going out of play. Spurs started to move the ball around a bit quicker and they were starting to work the Arsenal defence a bit more. After Shilow Tracey had managed to find J’Neil Bennett down the left side of the Arsenal penalty area Bennett tried to beat Iliev with a low effort at the Macedonian’s near post, but he was able to comfortably hold the Spurs wingers effort. Spurs continued to try and create openings down the left flank, just a couple of minutes after Bennett’s chance, attacking left back Dennis Cirkin came close to beating Iliev. After receiving J’Neil Bennett’s pass on the edge of the Arsenal penalty area, Cirkin continued forward before cutting inside onto his right foot and curling a powerful effort towards the left hand corner of the goal. Cirkin’s effort was well thwarted by Iliev who managed to get a strong hand to the 16 year olds shot. 

The towering Konstantinos Mavropanos did well to clear a teasing cross into the Arsenal penalty area from J’Neil Bennett, before the unusually quiet Jack Roles tested the Arsenal goalkeeper. After coming inside from the left wing Roles attempted to beat Iliev with a lofted effort but the experienced goalkeeper managed to read what Roles was trying to do, and he comfortably claimed the ball. Tariq Hinds did well to block Dominic Thompson’s cross at the other end of the pitch before Austin authoritatively claimed Xavier Amaechi’s corner kick. Brandon Austin then kicked the ball all the way up the field to Tracey who was able to bring the ball down before continuing forward down the right wing. Tracey then teed the ball off to Roles on the edge of the Arsenal penalty area but the Cyprus under 21 internationals curling effort flashed narrowly wide of Deyan Iliev’s near post. Wayne Burnett’s side had been enjoying quite a decent spell in the game and they were continuing to create some good chances. After some good work to control the ball Bennett tried to beat Iliev from more than 20 yards out. However, the Arsenal goalkeeper was equal to Bennett’s powerful low effort on goal. Charlie Gilmour whipped a dangerous ball across the face of Brandon Austin’s goal shortly afterwards as the game started to develop into a more even affair. Japhet Tanganga did well once again to break up another dangerous Arsenal attack after he cleared Nketiah’s low cross into the Spurs box. Wayne Burnett made his first substitution of the game in the 73rd minute of the game after he brought on second year scholar Armando Shashoua in place of midfielder Jack Roles. After Spurs had won a free kick Maghoma managed to pick out Japhet Tanganga at Iliev’s far post, but the Spurs defenders resulting effort on goal was blocked by Osei-Tutu. Tashan Oakley-Boothe then whipped a dangerous ball across the face of the Arsenal goal before Arsenal broke forward down the other end through Osei Tutu. The fullback darted forward down the right flank before entering the Tottenham penalty area, where he was fouled from behind by J’Neil Bennett who had been tracking him. Fortunately for Spurs the referee had deemed the foul to have taken place outside the penalty area, and instead a free kick was awarded right on the edge of the box. Bennett also received a yellow card for bringing down the Arsenal man.

Xavier Amaechi was desperately unlucky not to score from his resulting effort which smashed off the inside of Brandon Austin near post before rolling out. The Tottenham goalkeeper would have had no chance of getting to the ball had   Amaechi’s effort had been on target. The game had been won by Arsenal long ago but the young Spurs players continued to work their hardest, to try and pull a goal back. After Paris Maghoma received Dennis Cirkin’s pass the silky midfielder came inside from the left wing before blazing an effort over Iliev’s crossbar. After taking a free kick early Shashoua slipped the ball into the feet of Oakley-Boothe who burst forward down the right flank before attempting to pump the ball into danger zone. Unfortunately for Oakley-Boothe his cross took  a heavy deflection off of Ballard and this allowed Iliev to gather it comfortably. The energetic Armando Shashoua did well to head clear Jordi Osei-Tutu’s dangerous cross into the Spurs box before linking up well with Bennett at the opposite end of the pitch. After receiving a pass from Bennett down the left side of the Arsenal penalty area, Shashoua squared the ball to Tracey who had made a good run into the centre of the box. However, the Spurs player was unable to sort his feet out and he was intercepted by Mavropanos. There was a late melee involving both sets of players after there had been a coming together between TJ Eyoma and Jordi Osei-Tutu. J’Neil Bennett then went over to confront the Arsenal fullback as Tanganga also got involved. Even after the referee had blown the final whistle a matter of moments later, Tanganga could still be seen trying to get to Osei-Tutu who had clearly angered him. This will have been a difficult defeat to take for Wayne Burnett’s side against their bitter local rivals however, the team that Freddie Ljunberg picked was far too good for Spurs on the night, and although their efforts were commendable they just couldn’t match what was a very classy opposition. Spurs will be hoping to bounce back from Friday’s particularly painful defeat when they welcome Chelsea to the Lamex stadium next month. However, Wayne Burnett’s side must go up against Croatian side NK Dinamo Zagreb 2 in the quarter finals of this seasons Premier League International Cup before they can think about league football once again. Our game against Dinamo Zagreb will take place on Tuesday the 26th of February, also at the Lamex stadium.

Player reviews:

  • Brandon Austin: Despite having a very busy night Austin only made one save against Arsenal, that save was to deny Eddie Nketiah from close range during the first half. I thought that Austin’s distribution was good on the night and I also thought that he dealt well with crosses and set pieces. There was nothing that the 20 year old could have done to prevent any of Arsenal’s four goals. It’s also worth noting that he was constantly trying to motivate his teammates throughout the match.
  • Tariq Hinds: The 18 year old right back had the extremely difficult task of trying to defend against Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka. The England under 18 international really made Hinds work hard throughout the match and while he did cause Hinds quite a lot of problems, I thought that the right back gave a good account of himself on the night.
  • TJ Eyoma: Like Hinds, centre half TJ Eyoma had his work cut out against Freddie Ljunberg’s side. Eyoma operated at RCB and although he did make some very important defensive interventions, he did struggle at times to deal with Arsenal centre forward Eddie Nketiah who was a real handful.
  • Japhet Tanganga: The 19 year old had quite a good game at LCB under the circumstances. Tanganga did cut out a couple of dangerous Arsenal attacks and he made some important clearances.
  • Dennis Cirkin: My motm, see below.
  • George Marsh: The holding midfielder was overpowered for much of the night by Arsenal’s formidable midfield. Marsh found it very difficult to break up play when the ‘ Gunners ‘ had the likes of Joe Willock and Charlie Gilmour pulling the strings from midfield.
  • Tashan Oakley-Boothe: Although Oakley-Boothe started the game out on the right wing he would often change positions with central midfielder Paris Maghoma. Oakley-Boothe did manage to go on numerous attacking forays down the right flank throughout the game, and I thought that he carried the ball well.
  • Jack Roles: The inform central midfielder had an unusually quiet night for Wayne Burnett’s side in the middle of the park. Roles did manage to initiate a couple of decent chances for Spurs while also getting himself into some good goalscoring positions.
  • Paris Maghoma: Maghoma started the game in the middle of the park although he would often switch with Oakley-Boothe out on the right flank during the match. Maghoma did well to create space for himself and he did look good on the ball. The 17 year old went on some good attacking forays through the middle of the pitch.
  • J’Neil Bennett: I thought that the first year scholar (17) was one of our best players against Arsenal on Friday night. Bennett was extremely positive out on the left wing and he was constantly trying to create chances for the likes of Shilow Tracey. The skilful winger had the beating of Arsenal fullback Jordi Osei-Tutu on quite a few occasions and what I liked about young Bennett’s performance was the fact that he mixed his game up. He would often look to cut inside and try his luck at goal from just outside the penalty area, but he also delivered some good crosses into the penalty area. The former QPR schoolboy tracked back excellently after him and he helped Cirkin out at left back. 
  • Shilow Tracey: Due to a lack of natural centre forwards in our under 23 squad, winger Shilow Tracey was forced to play up top against Arsenal. Although it isn’t the 20 year olds natural position, I thought that he did a relatively good job considering that he was up against a very good Arsenal defence. Tracey worked tirelessly to try and get himself into good positions in the final third and he managed to win almost half of his aerial duels. Tracey’s off the ball work was very, very good.
  • Armando Shashoua: Seeing Armando Shashoua come off the bench to make his PL2 debut on Friday evening, was for me, one of the highlights of the night. Our under 18’s captain fantastic replaced Jack Roles in central midfield in the 73rd minute of the game and despite it being only Shashoua’s second competitive appearance for the development side, I thought that he had a really bright cameo against Arsenal. Armando was energetic and he helped us to move the ball a lot quicker. The 18 year olds movement in and around the penalty area was superb. Shashoua also played quite a few clever one twos during his time on the pitch. I look forward to seeing him make more appearances for the development side before the end of the season.

My man of the match: 16 year old left back Dennis Cirkin was my man of the match on Friday evening for a number of reasons. The England under 17 international had to defend against a very good young player in Xavier Amaechi, and while he did have some difficult spells in the game I thought that he defended really well against the tricky winger on the whole. Cirkin got up and down the left flank well, and once again I thought that he combined both his defensive and attacking responsibilities really well. The Dublin born defender maintained good positioning throughout the game and he was really aggressive in his defending. He made some good blocks, challenges and interceptions, but young Cirkin was also good at bringing the ball forward down the flank. The tireless fullback went on some really promising attacking forays down that left hand side and he overlapped, and linked up well with J’Neil Bennett who he had a good understanding with. Cirkin is a very good dribbler and he helped to create some good little chances for Spurs. The first year scholar also came close to getting on the scoresheet during the second half. It was a performance that the young man should be proud of, especially as it was only his second ever appearance for the development side.

Spurs: Austin, Hinds, Cirkin, Marsh, Tanganga (c), Eyoma, Maghoma, Oakley-Boothe, Tracey, Roles (A Shashoua 73), Bennett. Substitutes (not used): Glover, Duncan, Lyons-Foster, Dinzeyi.

Arsenal: Iliev (Smith 77), Osei-Tutu, Pleguezuelo (c, John-Jules 66), Gilmour, Ballard, Mavropanos, Amaechi (Zelalem 86), Willock, Nketiah, Thompson, Saka. Substitutes (not used): Coyle, Medley.

Goals: Arsenal – Willock 3, 31, Gilmour 25 (pen), Nketiah 47.

Yellow cards: Spurs – Bennett 81; Arsenal – Pleguezuelo 43, Gilmour 74, Smith 84.

Referee: Josh Smith.

Venue: Lamex Stadium, Stevenage.

Attendance: 890.

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

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