Spurs under 19’s 1-0 PAOK: (match report)
Our under 19’s qualified for the last 16 of this seasons UEFA Youth league on Tuesday evening, by overcoming Greek side PAOK Thessaloniki by one goal to nil in, what was a hard fought win for Matt Wells’ side. Very few of our under 19’s would have experienced an atmosphere as hostile and as intimidating than the one which greeted them at the Toumba stadium on Tuesday night. The PAOK fans turned out in force to support their youngsters on a humid night in Thessaloniki, with almost 9,000 supporters in attendance at the Toumba stadium. It was a very physical game from start to finish, and the Greek side tried to rough our players up by making many late challenges and cynical fouls, but it was those such fouls which would cost PAOK so dearly on the night. After a decent start to the match, Matt Wells‘ side took the lead from a corner kick after just 13 minutes of time through Brooklyn Lyons-Foster, the defender clinically guiding home Harvey White’s pin point delivery into the bottom left hand corner of the PAOK goal. Things got even better for Spurs after PAOK were harshly reduced to ten men, after Theocharis Tsiggaras was shown a straight red card for a challenge from behind on J’Neil Bennett. Spurs did manage to create some decent chances during the remainder of the half but they were unable to extend their lead, despite seeing so much of the ball during the first period. However, the second half was a much tighter affair and it really tested Spurs’ game management skills. PAOK opened up as the half progressed but the young Spurs players kept their cool and they were disciplined while in possession. The home side did have chances to draw level however, the solidity of our back five dealt excellently with the threat which was posed by the Greek clubs attacking players. Spurs held the ball up well, they knew when to waste time and knock the ball around, but most importantly of all they were able to grind out the result. It may not have looked aesthetically pleasing for those of you who were were watching the game on the television but, however dour the second half was, our young lads demonstrated extraordinary maturity and professionalism to see out the game. Matt Wells’ lads didn’t let the pressure get to their heads and I thought that they showed how mentally strong they really are, to overcome PAOK in normal time.
Spurs lined up in the unfamiliar 5-3-2 formation on Tuesday evening with the skipper Brandon Austin starting in goal for Matt Wells‘ side once again. The back five consisted of both Tariq Hinds and Dennis Cirkin at fullback, either side of the three centre backs TJ Eyoma, Malachi Walcott and Brooklyn Lyons-Foster. Meanwhile, Armando Shashoua, Harvey White and Tashan Oakley-Boothe lined up in the centre of the park, with both Jack Roles and J’Neil Bennett playing as out and out strikers in the absence of our top scorer in the competition this season, Troy Parrott. Spurs got the game underway at the lively Toumba stadium and it didn’t take long before the game started to gather pace. Tariq Hinds was on hand to clear behind Theocharis Tsiggaras’ early cross into the Tottenham penalty area. A couple of moments later Eleftheros Lyratsiz saw his cross bounce off PAOK striker Alexandros Gkargkalatzidis, before going wide of Brandon Austin’s goal. Spurs then broke forward down the opposite end of the pitch, Harvey White managed to pick out Bennett in the penalty area with a pacy cross. Bennett managed to get his head on the ball, but his attempt on goal was headed away by Apostolos Diamantis before it could trouble the PAOK goalkeeper Symeon Papadopoulous. Dennis Cirkin then pumped a teasing ball into the oppositions penalty area but it was cleared away by Giannis Michailidis before Tariq Hinds almost managed to pick out Shashoua inside the box. Spurs were seeing more of the ball during the opening stages of the game. After Armando Shashoua played a clever one two with Jack Roles on the edge of the PAOK penalty area, Shashoua slipped the ball into the feet of Bennett who swivelled around before shooting over Papadopoulous’ crossbar (on the bounce) courtesy of a heavy deflection off of Michailidis. However, Matt Wells’ side managed to take the lead from Harvey White’s resulting corner kick. After the Maidstone born midfielders perfect delivery had managed to pick out Brooklyn Lyons-Foster who had managed to leap above Georgios Doumtsis in the box, before planting a powerful header into the bottom left hand corner of Symeon Papadopoulous’ goal, 1-0. The young defender made the most of netting his third goal of the season by running over to the corner flag on the far side, to celebrate in front of a photographer.
The young centre half thought he had scored his and Spurs’ second goal of the game a matter of minutes later, after Oakley-Boothe had won a free kick out on the right flank. Harvey White whipped another excellent ball into the box which managed to pick out Lyons-Foster who had managed to get in front of Zisis Chatzistravos, before jabbing the ball past Papadopoulous and into the back of the net, on the volley. However, the referee Jérôme Brisard ruled out Lyons-Foster’s goal on the strange belief that the Tottenham defender had fouled Chatzistravos before getting to the ball. Harvey White had a cross cleared by Diamantis before Brandon Austin was called into action for the first time in the game to claim Georgios Doumtsis’ powerful low cross into the Spurs box. There was a brief pause in play after Tashan Oakley-Boothe had went down injured after being caught by Marios Tsaousis however, he was ok to carry on. Tariq Hinds whipped a dangerous cross into the PAOK penalty area but it was cleared by Diamantis, with Jack Roles claiming to the referee that the Greek defender had handled the ball. Shortly afterwards Brooklyn Lyons-Foster was harshly give a yellow card for allegedly holding back Tsiggaras with his arm. After receiving the ball down the right flank J’Neil Bennett had burst forward towards the edge of the PAOK penalty area before letting fly on his right foot. However, the 17 year olds powerful low effort was tipped behind acrobatically by the diving Papadopoulous. After the ball had fell to Tsaousis inside the Spurs penalty area the fullback had a pop on goal, but his powerful low effort came off of Eyoma before going behind for a corner kick. After receiving Dennis Cirkin’s pass inside the PAOK penalty area Jack Roles took a heavy first touch before lunging into try and win the ball off of Diamantis. However, he missed the ball and he ended up catching the PAOK defender, this resulted in him getting a yellow card. The Cyprus under 21 international came close to playing Armando Shashoua through on goal a couple of moments later, after Spurs had regained possession.
The decisive moment in the game occurred in the 33rd minute after the French referee Jérôme Brisard made a very brave call. After receiving Jack Roles’ pass J’Neil Bennett went on a darting run through the middle of the park before being brought down from behind by a sliding challenge from Theocharis Tsiggara. The PAOK midfielder had shown from his cynical foul that he had shown no desire to catch anything other than the back of Bennett’s leg however, I think that everybody had been surprised that the referee had shown Tsiggara a straight red card. Following the sending off Spurs seemed content to hold onto the ball and they looked very calm in possession. J’Neil Bennett almost managed to pick out the unmarked Jack Roles at the back post of Papadopoulous’ goal, but the 17 year olds cross was slightly overhit. The attentive Brooklyn Lyons-Foster did well to cut out Antonio Gaitanidis’ through ball before it came through to PAOK centre forward Gkargkalatzidis. The home side won a free kick in a promising position shortly afterwards but Dennis Cirkin was on hand to clear Tsaousis’ delivery. However, the ball ended up coming down and bouncing inside the Spurs box and back to Tsaousis, but he could only blaze over Austin’s goal on the half volley. Towards the end of the first half Theocharis Komsis’ side went on a dangerous counter attack which came close to catching Spurs out. Chatzistravos broke forward through the middle of the pitch before being caught from behind by White who would later receive a yellow card. However, the referee waived play on and the PAOK midfielder managed to stay on his feet before continuing forward and picking out Gkargkalatzidis down the right channel with a nice lofted pass. The PAOK centre forward quickly prodded the ball across to Antonio Gaitanidis who was through on goal. However, the Greece under 19 international didn’t feel that he had the pace to continue all the way into the Spurs box, and he ended up blasting the ball over Austin’s crossbar on the edge of the penalty area. A couple of minutes later Achileas Salamouras fired an effort over from long range before Spurs almost played themselves into a spot of bother. After receiving Brooklyn Lyons-Foster’s back pass, Austin spent too long pondering about what he was going to do with the ball, and he was quickly closed down by Georgios Doumtsis who he ended up firing the ball straight at. However, the 20 year old goalkeeper was fortunate that the ball came back to him kindly. The referee blew the whistle for half time a couple of seconds later.
PAOK got the second half underway and it was evident from the opening couple of the minutes of the half that Spurs were being quite cautious in possession, as they played short and simple passes in and around the middle of the park. Brandon Austin made his first save of the game after substitute Giorgos Tzvaros glanced Diamantis’ cross towards the Spurs goal, the ball seemed to just bounce into the arms of the Tottenham goalkeeper who comfortably saved Tzvaros’ effort. A couple of of minutes later Gkargkalatzidis managed to slip the ball through to Eleftheros Lyratsiz down the right side of the Tottenham penalty area however, the PAOK fullback ended up firing a low effort wide of Brandon Austin’s goal. After connecting with Diamantis’ cross inside the Spurs box Salamouras had a headed effort on goal deflected over by Hinds who got an important head on the ball. Spurs had been playing sensible football, only attacking the PAOK defence when the moment was just right. Such a moment almost resulted in Spurs netting their second goal of the game after Jack Roles came desperately close to netting his third goal in the competition, this season. After receiving Harvey White’s pass out on the left flank Dennis Cirkin surged forward before squaring the ball into Roles who was lurking on the edge of the PAOK danger zone. Roles’ first time side footed effort was struck cleanly but it ended up cannoning straight off of Papadopoulous’ left hand post before coming back to White on the edge of the box. The Spurs midfielder hit his first time effort hard and low, but the ball ended up flashing narrowly wide of the goal, although it is worth noting that White was caught by Lyratzis just as he was about take the shot. Spurs had a penalty shout a couple of moments later, after Roles appeared to be caught inside the box by Diamantis, after receiving Bennett’s pass. PAOK came close to netting an equaliser at the other end of the pitch from Georgios Doumtsis’ corner kick. Doumtsis had managed to pick out Giannis Michailidis at Brandon Austin’s back post. However, the Spurs goalkeeper did well to tip Michailidis’ powerful looping header over the crossbar.
J’Neil Bennett became the third Spurs player of the match to receive a yellow card after he collided with Giannis Michailidis inside the PAOK penalty area. Spurs made their first change of the game in the 67th minute of time, after Paris Maghoma came onto replace Malachi Walcott. After doing well to skip past Salamouras in the middle of the park, Oakley-Boothe went on a brilliant surging forward run before managing to play Jack Roles through on goal, with an excellent pass from the outside of his boot. Roles advanced towards the PAOK penalty area and he continued right onto the edge of the box before firing a low effort towards goal. However, Papadopoulous had been saved once again by his left hand post. Armando Shashoua had a nervy moment at the opposite end of the pitch after the PAOK players appealed to the referee that he had fouled Chatzisvaros inside the penalty area. The 18 year old midfielder did concede a free kick right on the edge of the Spurs box a couple of seconds later, after fouling the same player. However, Lyratzis‘ resulting effort flew well wide of Brandon Austin’s goal. The Spurs players had started to really slow the game down and they were doing their fair share of time wasting. Brandon Austin was booked for doing just that in the 83rd minute. Rayan Clarke replaced J’Neil Bennett shortly afterwards, before Jubril Okedina came on for Tashan Oakley-Boothe to help to bolster the Spurs defence during the final moments of the game. Matt Wells’ side managed to see out the remaining minutes of the game with relative ease to record a hugely impressive win in Greece to book their place in the last 16 of the UEFA Youth League. Spurs’ game management skills and off the ball intelligence proved to be hugely important on the night. The draw for both the last 16 and the quarter finals will be made on Friday afternoon at UEFA’s headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland. Spurs could meet anybody from Hertha Berlin to Manchester United in the next round of this prestigious competition. In some unrelated news I noticed that our under 18’s dropped down to second in the league table on Tuesday, after Arsenal defeated Leicester City 5-0, although the ‘ Gunners ‘ have played one more game than Matt Wells’ side who return to league action on Saturday when they face Reading.
- Brandon Austin: The Tottenham captain made two saves in total against PAOK on Tuesday evening. One of the saves was a fairly routine one, while the other was an important reflex save to tip Giannis Michailidis powerful, looping header over the crossbar. Austin was unlucky with his distribution at times against PAOK, and he did get quite lucky on a couple of occasions.
- Tariq Hinds: The right back had a really solid game for Matt Wells’ side, and the Goodmayes born teenager defended particularly well against winger Georgios Doumtsis down that side of the pitch. Like Dennis Cirkin on the opposite flank Hinds managed to get up and down the wing well and he was involved in a couple of good attacks for Spurs. The 18 year olds crossing was of particular note.
- TJ Eyoma: Operating at RCB in a back five for the majority of Tuesday’s game, the England under 19 international put in a very solid performance alongside both Walcott and Lyons-Foster. Eyoma made some important interceptions and clearances, and his positioning was impeccable.
- Malachi Walcott: The 16 year old played in the middle of the three centre backs. The England under 17 international completed 67 minutes of the match, and like Eyoma he was flawless in defence. He looked very composed and assured.
- Brooklyn Lyons-Foster: The match winner operated at LCB and he was one of our best players on the night. Lyons-Foster read the game effectively and he brought the ball out well from the back. He was also excellent in the air and strong in the challenge, but there were two very important pieces of defending to cut out two dangerous through balls, which for me were his most important defensive contributions of the game. Lyons-Foster scored an excellent header to win Spurs the game early on in the first half. I thought that his overall play was excellent on the night.
- Dennis Cirkin: My motm, see below.
- Armando Shashoua: Industrious, slick and tidy in his overall play. The 18 year old put in another good shift in central midfield for Matt Wells’ side where he helped to keep things ticking alongside midfield anchorman Harvey White. Shashoua’s passing was nice and crisp, and his darting movement in and around the oppositions penalty area was impressive. As was his tracking back and relentless pressing.
- Harvey White: The midfield anchorman had an excellent game in the middle of the park for Spurs where he was able to influence the match in a positive way. White’s pin point delivery from a first half corner kick set up Brooklyn Lyons-Foster’s goal, and the 17 year old whipped many more inviting balls into the danger zone throughout the remainder of the game. White was excellent on the ball and he performed his duties as an anchorman both diligently and effectively.
- Tashan Oakley-Boothe: The central midfielder who lined up in a midfield three completed 92 minutes of Tuesday’s match. I personally thought that the 19 year old had a very good game alongside side both White and Shashoua. Oakley-Boothe went on one excellent attacking foray during the second half which resulted in him setting Jack Roles through on goal with an intelligent pass.
- Jack Roles: The 19 year old started up top alongside J’Neil Bennett where he operated as a false nine. Roles was involved in some nice passages of play and he managed to get himself into some very promising positions. The Cyprus under 21 international was denied by the woodwork on two separate occasions against PAOK.
- J’Neil Bennett: Roles’ partner up top worked very hard all game to try and make an impact. Bennett had a good first half and he came close to finding the back of the net on a couple of occasions.
- Paris Maghoma: The young midfielder entered the game in the 67th minute of time. Maghoma offered Spurs much needed energy out wide.
- Rayan Clarke: It was only a fleeting cameo from the winger who helped to hold the ball up during the final moments of the game.
- Jubril Okedina: The 18 year old helped to bolster the Spurs defence during the final moments of the game, after he was introduced in second half stoppage time.
My man of the match: For the second time in less than four days 16 year old left back Dennis Cirkin was my man of the match. The accomplished full back was an ever present force down the left hand side of the pitch against PAOK. The Dubliner proved to be a very influential player from his many driving runs down the left flank. The first year scholar defended solidly and he managed to neutralise the threat that was posed by PAOK winger Antonio Gaitanidis. Cirkin also managed to combine both his defensive and attacking duties to great effect. He looked very assured indeed against the Greek club.
PAOK: Papadopoulos, Lyratzis, Tsaousis, Tsiggaras, Diamantis, Michailidis, Doumstis (Tzovaras 46), Salamouras (Maniotis 81), Gaitanidis (Panidis 84), Chatzistavros (c, Meletidis 84), Gkargkalatzidis (Pournaras 76). Substitutes (not used): Talichmanidis, Tachatos.
Spurs: Austin (c), Hinds, Cirkin, Walcott (Maghoma 67), Eyoma, Lyons-Foster, Oakley-Boothe (Okedina 90+2), White, Bennett (Clarke 87), Roles, A Shashoua. Substitutes (not used): De Bie, Binks, Pochettino, Whittaker.
Goal: Spurs – Lyons-Foster 12.
Yellow cards: PAOK – Michailidis 27, Diamantis 44; Spurs – Lyons-Foster 20, Roles 25, White 45+1, Bennett 66, Austin 83, Cirkin 88.
Red card: PAOK – Tsiggaras 33.
Referee: Jérôme Brisard (FRA).
Venue: Toumba Stadium, Thessaloniki.
Spurs under 19’s statistics 2018/19:
Goals scored: Troy Parrott – 3
Jack Roles – 2
Rodel Richards – 2
Paris Maghoma – 1
Jaden Brown – 1
Malachi Walcott – 1
Brooklyn Lyons-Foster – 1
Assists: Jamie Bowden – 3
Troy Parrott – 2
Jack Roles – 2
J’Neil Bennett – 1
Jaden Brown – 1
Paris Maghoma – 1
Harvey White – 1
Clean sheets: Brandon Austin – 3