Spurs under 18’s 2-0 Reading: (match report)
Our under 18’s returned to league action on Saturday morning when they faced a struggling Reading side at the ‘ Royals ‘ Hogwood Park training complex in the Berkshire countryside. Matt Wells fielded a much changed side to the one which beat Brighton 4-1 back in January, in their last league match. Three schoolboys featured for Spurs on Saturday due to our ever growing list of absentees, which appears to have extended since our last game with Troy Parrott, Jamie Bowden and Rodel Richards all missing from the match day squad. In the absence of 15 of our scholars schoolboy Tarrell Whittaker led the line for only the second time at this level, while identical twins and Scotland youth internationals Michael and Matthew Craig appeared off the bench to make their under 18 debuts. Although Spurs saw more of the ball than the home side, for large periods of the match it was a fairly close game with a number of chances for both teams at either end of the pitch. Spurs’ overage goalkeeper Jonathan De Bie made a couple of impressive early stops during the opening stages of what proved to be a very even game. However, it was Matt Wells‘ side who took the lead in the 26th minute of time through Dilan Markanday on his return from injury. The 17 year old guiding home Rayan Clarke’s low cross from close range to give Spurs the early advantage. Spurs continued to dominate possession during the second half, but it was David Dodds’ Reading who created the better chances throughout the second period. However, Belgium under 19 international Jonathan De Bie proved his worth on more than one occasion during the second half. Fortunately for Spurs a rather embarrassing own goal from the home side settled the game with less than 13 minutes on the clock. Substitute Maxwell Statham applied good pressure on Reading’s Josh Hewitt down the right wing. The Reading defender turned before passing the ball back to goalkeeper Jokull Andresson however, Hewitt had overhit his pass and after Andresson had taken a sloppy first touch the ball comically rolled past him and into the back of the net.
Spurs were defensively very solid against Reading, with the likes of Luis Binks, Malachi Walcott and Jubril Okedina helping to quell the threat of Reading’s attacking players. Matt Wells’ side put in a very mature performance and while they may not have been as dominant or as electric as they have been in recent league games, Saturday’s match however, was one in which their maturity stood out in, and I for one thought that the team played very well. Spurs lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with overage goalkeeper and captain Jonathan De Bie starting in goal. A back four of Jubril Okedina, Malachi Walcott, Luis Binks and Dennis Cirkin lined up in front of him. Paris Maghoma and Rafferty Pedder partnered up in the centre of the park while Maurizio Pochettino, Dilan Markanday and Rayan Clarke formed an attacking line behind lone striker Tarrell Whittaker. The ‘ Royals ‘ got the game underway on a gloriously sunny morning at their Hogwood Park training complex. After Luis Binks had conceded a free kick out on the right flank in the opening minute, Dejan Tetek whipped an inviting ball into the Tottenham penalty area however, it was well cleared by Dennis Cirkin. A couple of moments later Cirkin was called into action again, this time to clear Khalid Simmo’s dangerous cross. After Dilan Markanday had went on a darting forward run through the middle of the park, the skilful attacker managed to win a free kick right on the edge of the Reading penalty area after he was fouled by Jeriel Dorsett. Paris Maghoma managed to get his resulting effort up and over the wall, forcing Reading goalkeeper Jokull Andresson to get down to his left to parry the ball before it was eventually cleared by a Reading defender. Spurs were seeing more of the ball during the opening stages of the game however, the home side did look threatening whenever they entered our final third. Khalid Simmo’s low cross only just missed Reading striker Nahum Melvin-Lambert inside the Spurs box, before Malachi Walcott managed to get the ball clear. At the opposite end of the pitch young Tarrell Whittaker came close to pouncing on a sloppy pass from Reading goalkeeper Jokull Andresson.
A couple of moments later the Spurs schoolboy managed to win a free kick on the edge of the Reading penalty area. This time Paris Maghoma ended up bending an effort well wide of Andresson’s goal. A corner kick from Kian Leavy at the opposite end, caused a bit of havoc inside the Tottenham penalty area. The ball fell first for Simmo who had a shot blocked by Walcott, before the 16 year old defender managed to block Jeriel Dorsett’s resulting attempt on goal. Both sides had tried their best to create during the opening stages of the game however, it was the young Lilywhites who struck first, after Dilan Markanday put Spurs ahead in the 26th minute. It was a well worked move which started with Rafferty Pedder who passed the ball to Maghoma, he shifted the ball out to Clarke on the left wing. The wide man sprinted forward before whipping a dangerous low cross into the box, and he managed to pick out Markanday who had enough space and time to just direct the ball into the bottom right hand corner of the goal from close range, 1-0. The ‘ Royals ‘ tried to respond straight from the restart, after Melvin-Lambert received Leavy’s pass he slipped the ball into Thierry Nevers down the left side of the Tottenham penalty area. However, his first time side footed effort was saved by the alert Jonathan De Bie. The Belgian goalkeeper was called into action again a couple of minutes later, this time to tip Dejan Tetek powerful curler from 25 yards out, over the crossbar. Reading continued to put our defence under pressure as the first half progressed. After receiving Walcott’s pass on the edge of the Spurs box, Maghoma lost possession to Simmo whose powerful low drive on goal was excellently saved, and held by De Bie who managed to get down quickly to his left to make the save. A corner delivered from Dilan Markanday managed to pick out Walcott inside the Reading box, he headed the ball into the air before he attempted to get up and head the ball back towards goal, but it was comfortably held by Andersson. A fantastic surging run from Paris Maghoma was cut out by Roberto Nditi right on the edge of the Reading penalty area, just before he could get a shot away on goal.
After receiving Jubril Okedina’s pass Markanday gave the ball to Pochettino on the right wing. The winger whipped the ball into the danger zone but it was cleared by Dorsett before Pedder could tap home from close range. At the opposite end of the pitch, Jubril Okedina did well to cut out Claudio Osorio’s through ball before it came to Nevers down the left flank. The attentive Dennis Cirkin did well to get in front of Simmo inside the Spurs box to clear behind Thierry Nevers in swinging cross. After meeting Claudio Osorio’s corner kick Roberto Nditi tried to head the ball towards De Bie’s goal, but it was headed away by Markanday. After recycling possession Dejan Tetek whipped the ball into the Spurs box, managing to pick out Nditi at the back post. The defenders headed effort on goal came off of Walcott before falling down for Nditi who fired over De Bie’s crossbar on the turn. The ever impressive De Bie reacted quickly to come off of his line and get to Tetek’s pass down the right side of the penalty area before Thierry Nevers could get to the ball. The English forward forced a fairly comfortable save out of De Bie shortly before the referee blew the whistle for half time, after De Bie managed to deny Nevers low side footed effort, from long range. At times during the first period our final ball had been lacking and this had prevented us from extending our lead. Matt Wells’ side got the second half underway as they looked to extend their slender advantage over the home side. After receiving Pochettino’s pass down the right flank Maghoma pumped the ball into the oppositions penalty area. Malachi Walcott attacked the ball in the air but he ended up colliding with Jeriel Dorsett before Reading managed to clear the ball away from danger. After receiving Dejan Tetek’s pass down the left wing Thierry Nevers whipped a menacing ball into the Tottenham penalty area, but the commanding Luis Binks was on hand to clear the ball away from danger. Spurs made their first change of the game shortly afterwards when Dilan Markanday left the field to be replaced by under 18 debutant Matthew Craig who slotted in at central midfield alongside Paris Maghoma.
A corner kick from Claudio Osorio caused havoc inside the Tottenham penalty area after it was attacked by Leavy. The ball eventually fell to Simmo but the Reading player couldn’t beat De Bie from six yards out, and his jabbed effort at goal was caught by the diving Belgian. The Tottenham defence looked as if it was in a spot of bother after Nditi played the ball down the left flank to Melvin-Lambert. However, the Reading striker was robbed off the ball on the edge of Spurs the penalty area by Malachi Walcott who made a timely interception. Spurs made another tactical change in the 69th minute after they brought off Rafferty Pedder for defender Maxwell Statham. Matt Wells’ side shuffled their formation as they switched to five at the back. A couple of minutes later the second Craig brother entered the field. Michael Craig came onto replace Tarrell Whittaker as Spurs switched to a 5-2-2-1 formation, with Maurizio Pochettino playing up top. After Paris Maghoma had won the ball off of Thierry Nevers the Tottenham midfielder gave the ball to Rayan Clarke who advanced forward through the middle before passing the ball to Maghoma who had made a run into the penalty area. Although Maghoma slipped he was able to adjust his body to flick the ball back to Clarke who was waiting on the edge of the box. The winger tried to tuck the ball around the Reading goalkeeper with a low side footed effort, but Jokull Andresson managed to be equal to it to palm the ball away from goal. Then in the 77th minute of time Spurs managed to double their advantage in slightly unusual circumstances. After substitute Maxwell Statham had applied pressure to Reading’s Josh Hewitt down the right wing, the ‘ Royals ‘ defender was forced to turn around before hurriedly passing the ball back to the Reading goalkeeper Jokull Andresson. However, Hewitt had overhit his pass and the Icelandic goalkeeper had misjudged the pace of it. Embarrassingly for Andresson he tried to trap the ball with his foot, but he got it all wrong and the ball just rolled under his foot and into the back of the goal to virtually put the game to bed, 2-0.
After receiving Michael Craig’s pass out on the right flank Maxwell Statham, the makeshift right back whipped a menacing low cross into the Reading box, which was only just missed by the in sliding Pochettino at the near post. Jubril Okedina did well to clear Dejan Tetek’s delivery from a free kick before Spurs broke forward down the other end of the pitch. Clarke passed the ball to Statham who gave the ball out to Maghoma on the right flank. Maghoma attempted to square the ball for Pochettino inside the penalty area but it rolled past him and onto Statham whose resulting effort on goal was blocked by Josh Hewitt. A late free kick for the home side gave David Dodds’ team some hope of netting a consolation goal. Dejan Tetek delivered the ball towards the back post, his pass was met by Roberto Nditi who tried to volley the ball across goal. However, a young defender with impeccable positioning was on hand to clear the ball away from the danger zone, and that’s exactly what Malachi Walcott did. There was a late coming together between Paris Maghoma and Dejan Tetek, this resulted in Roberto Nditi also getting involved. The Reading defender decided to take matters into his own hands and push Maghoma before the referee stepped in to defuse the situation. The final whistle was sounded shortly afterwards by the referee, to bring to an end a highly competitive game of league football between two sides who are in completely contrasting circumstances in the table. I was very proud of how this much changed Tottenham team managed Saturday’s game at Hogwood Park. Yes, we may have been playing against a team who are of a completely different gulf in class to us however, when you analyse the team that Matt Wells picked then you will really appreciate just how impressive a win it was. Not only were three of our schoolboys involved in yesterday’s win, we also had a player who was making his first ever start at this level (Rafferty Pedder) as well as players who haven’t been regulars in Matt Wells’ under 18 side this season. This was a very good win for Spurs and not only does it keep us hot on Arsenal’s heels in second place in the league table, it also gave players like Pedder, Whittaker and the Craig twins vital playing time at this level, and that was just as pleasing to see as the win itself. It’s also worth noting that under 16 goalkeeper Thimothee Lo-Tutala featured on the bench for our under 18’s for only the second ever time on Saturday.
Arsenal beat Southampton 3-1 on Saturday morning and they stay at the top of the league table, only one point above us. However, Matt Wells‘ side still have that all important game in hand. Up next for the wonder boys of Hotspur Way is a London Derby against West Ham at Hotspur Way. That league match will take place next Saturday morning, the last time we faced the ‘ Hammers ‘ we thrashed them 9-0!
- Jonathan De Bie: The overage Belgian shot stopper was in fine form on Saturday morning against the ‘ Royals ‘. De Bie made some seriously impressive stops (five in total) and he saved us on a number of occasions throughout the match. Of particular note was the Uccle born goalkeepers superb reaction save to deny Khalid Simmo from close range, in the first half. De Bie was vocal throughout the match and he could constantly be heard encouraging and instructing his teammates. The 18 year olds distribution was also good.
- Jubril Okedina: The second year scholar started the game at right back for Matt Wells’ side, although he would play at centre half in a back five for the latter stages of the match. Once again this was another very accomplished defensive performance from Okedina who kept Reading’s talented forward Thierry Nevers in check for large periods of the game. The Woolwich born defender made some important clearances and interventions. He has now made 13 appearances for our under 18 side this season.
- Malachi Walcott: My motm, see below.
- Luis Binks: A defensive rock alongside Malachi Walcott at centre back, ball playing defender Luis Binks was flawless against Reading. Both him and Walcott read the game as if they were playing chess. Cool, calculated but above all else decisive in their defending. Binks looked so in control against what was a decent Reading attack. The 17 year olds positioning and anticipation was excellent on the day.
- Dennis Cirkin: The 16 year old left back who recently starred for our under 19’s and 23’s, returned back to under 18 level on Saturday to play his third game in less than eight days. The Dubliner put in another sterling performance for Matt Wells’ side where he was able to snuff out the danger which Reading’s Khalid Simmo posed. Cirkin always made sure that he was first to every ball, and his commitment was admirable. The left back looked good on the ball and he went on a number of driving runs down the left flank. Cirkin also won the vast majority of his aerial duels, this was another very good performance from a very good left back.
- Paris Maghoma: The England under 18 international operated as a CDM for the majority of our encounter with Reading. Maghoma put in a very disciplined performance, he broke play up well, linked up effectively with fellow CM Pedder, and he also demonstrated good game management skills e.g slowing down the game when we were under pressure. The Enfield born midfielder got around the pitch well and he was good at vacating space for himself. Maghoma would later go onto play on the right side of a diamond after Spurs switched to a 5-2-2-1 formation. The 17 year old went on a couple of good attacking forays from that position. Once again the midfielders versatility was plain to see.
- Rafferty Pedder: This was the first year scholars first start for Matt Wells’ side at this level. Despite having recently returned from injury, the 16 year old looked very sharp alongside Maghoma in the centre of the park. The Maidstone born midfielder completed 69 minutes of Saturday’s match where he gave a really positive account of himself. Pedder was energetic and he pressed well against the ‘ Royals ‘. The quality of the first year scholars passing was good and despite his size he imposed himself well on the game, in the central areas against both Reading’s Kian Leavy and Dejan Tetek. It was a very promising performance from Pedder who was also involved in the build up play of our opening goal.
- Maurizio Pochettino: The Barcelona born second year scholar started the game out on the right wing where he tried his best to make an impact on the game. Pochettino worked hard at both ends of the pitch, he also did a good job up top during the latter stages of the game.
- Dilan Markanday: The tricky winger returned from injury in time for Saturday’s game where he played as a number ten. Markanday looked as sharp as ever against the ‘ Royals ‘ at times balletic as a CAM his weaving runs through the heart of the Reading defence allowed players like Clarke and Pochettino to enjoy more space out wide. Markanday’s work rate was of a very good quality and he would often drop deep to help out both Pedder and Maghoma, to win the ball in the midfield. Markanday took his goal well from Rayan Clarke’s low cross and overall it was a very positive afternoon for the North Londoner, who completed 61 minutes of the game. Unsurprisingly the 17 year old was the most fouled player on the pitch!
- Rayan Clarke: The left winger had a huge impact on Saturday’s game from his many driving and purposeful runs down the flank. Despite setting up Markanday’s opener with a clever low cross, Clarke threatened the Reading defence on numerous occasions throughout the game. The North Londoner came close to finding the back of the net himself, in the second half. The 17 year old has now been directly involved in 12 goals from 15 appearances for Matt Wells’ side this season.
- Tarrell Whittaker: The schoolboy led the line for only the second ever time at this level on Saturday. Whittaker was lively inside the danger zone and despite often finding himself crowded out, he worked extremely hard to get himself into goal scoring positions. Whittaker completed 73 minutes of the game. He was up against some very physical Reading defenders.
- Matthew Craig: The schoolboy put in a very tidy performance in central midfield during his 29 minutes on the pitch. He looked like a very technical player.
- Maxwell Statham: The Southend born defender had a lively cameo at right back, after coming onto replace Rafferty Pedder in the 69th minute. It was Statham’s aggressive pressing which put Josh Hewitt under severe pressure for Jokull Andresson’s own goal. The 18 year old went on some good overlapping runs down that side of the pitch and he pumped a couple of decent crosses into the danger zone.
- Michael Craig: Like his identical twin, Michael put in a very tidy performance in central midfield. He also looked very comfortable on the ball.
My man of the match: I honestly could have given this award to any of our defenders, all of whom were superb on the day. However, 16 year old Malachi Walcott was for me, our best player on the day. The England under 17 international won everything in the air and this helped to thwart Reading centre forward Nahum Melvin-Lambert’s impact on the game. Walcott made countless blocks, interceptions, challenges and clearances but it was his impeccable positioning alongside Luis Binks, which for me was the highlight of his performance. Everything that the first year scholar did was timed to perfection, and time and time again he found himself in the right place at the right time to cut out a Reading attack. He was absolutely flawless!
Spurs: De Bie (c), Okedina, Cirkin, Maghoma, Binks, Pochettino, Pedder (Statham 69), Whittaker (Michael Craig 73), Markanday (Matthew Craig 61), Clarke. Substitutes (not used) Oluwayemi, Lo-Tutala.
Goals: Spurs – Dilan Markanday 26, Jokull Andresson 77 (OG).
Spurs under 18’s statistics 2018/19:
Goals scored: Troy Parrott – 12
J’Neil Bennett – 8
Dilan Markanday – 8
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
Rayan Clarke – 5
Phoenix Patterson – 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
Jonathan De Bie – 1