Some notes on Spurs youngster Malachi Walcott’s performance against France under 17’s:
Spurs’ first year scholar Malachi Walcott (17) was called up to represent the England under 17 national team yesterday for this years Under 17 European Championship. The ‘ Three Lions ‘ first group game of the tournament took place on Friday evening in Longford, Ireland at The City Calling Stadium and Walcott started the match for Steve Cooper’s side. The North London born defender started the game at centre half, playing in the middle of a back three although he would later revert to playing at RCB in a back four. Walcott had a fantastic game for Cooper’s side and he defended imperiously alongside Manchester City’s Taylor Harwood-Bellis, as he helped England to record a 1-1 draw. Walcott started the game well and his first involvement in the game came early on after he was called into action to clear Enzo Millot’s corner kick inside the opening two minutes of the match, at least he managed to get it partially clear. Walcott then managed to head clear Amadou Traore’s resulting corner kick, before he was able to clear Lucien Agoume’s cross a couple of moments later as France continued to start the game well. After receiving Lucien Agoume’s pass inside the England penalty area, Walcott was quick to intercept Georginio Rutter before clearing the ball away from danger. The 17 year old centre half wasn’t afraid to bring the ball out from the back and on one such foray he attempted to play an ambitious through ball towards Sam Greenwood however, Chrislain Matsima managed to get in front of Greenwood and make the interception before then clearing the ball. At the other end of the pitch Walcott attempted to get on the end of Miguel Azeez’s corner kick but France goalkeeper Melvin Zinga managed to claim the ball just before Walcott could connect with it. The Spurs man continued to do well, he was on hand to clear Nathanael Mbuku’s powerful low cross behind for a corner kick at England goalkeeper Louie Moulden’s near post before he managed to clear behind Nathanael Mbuku’s cross from the left wing. The 17 year old continued to stand strong and a matter of moments later he was on hand to head away Amadou Traore’s resulting corner kick before Harwood-Bellis cleared the ball.
The England defender did well to head away another menacing cross from Nathanael Mbuku before England took the lead in the 34th minute of the game through Sam Greenwood after the ‘ Three Lions ‘ had won a penalty kick after growing into the game. Shortly after the restart Georginio Rutter’s whipped cross was cleared away by the alert Malachi Walcott. Shortly before halftime Walcott was shown a yellow card for a supposed foul on Theo Zidane on the edge of the England box after the France man went on a surging run through the middle of the park. Steve Cooper’s side appeared to revert back to a back four for the beginning of the second half with Walcott operating at RCB. After receiving Amadou Traore’s pass inside the England box, Georginio Rutter turned around before attempting to beat Moulden with a powerful low shot, but Walcott was there to make an important block to put the ball behind for a corner kick. A couple of minutes later the ever threatening France side came close to drawing level. However, after substitute Aouchiche received the ball down the left side of the England box Walcott managed to get in front of his man before clearing the ball behind for a corner. Then a couple of minutes later Walcott managed to sweep clear a cross from Mbuku on the left flank as England continued to defend really well. After Rutter passed the ball to Aouchiche inside the England box the France substitute turned around before shooting but his low effort was well blocked by the feet of Walcott. France were putting increasing pressure on the England defence as the game started to draw to a close. However, for all of Walcott and England’s excellent defending they could do nothing to prevent France from drawing level through Aouchiche in the 78th minute of time. France came close to taking the lead for the first time in the game a couple of minutes later through Traore after he burst down the right side of the England box before having his angles closed down well by Walcott and firing the ball against Louie Moulden’s crossbar.
A corner from Traore then came to Agoume inside the England box but he was closed down well by Walcott who then blocked his resulting shot on goal. Walcott sliced the resulting corner kick from Agoume narrowly over Louie Moulden’s crossbar a couple of minutes before the England goalkeeper made a fantastic save to deny Agoume, before Walcott then managed to get the ball clear in time. Aouchiche’s late effort was blocked by Walcott inside the England box before Walcott managed to clear behind Mbuku’s cross and then clear away Agoume’s resulting corner kick as both sides had to settle for a 1-1 draw on their opening game. This was an excellent performance from Walcott who defended superbly from the first to the final whistle. The 17 year old made some excellent blocks, interceptions, clearances and he won almost all of his aerial duels. Furthermore, the Spurs youngsters positioning throughout the game was impeccable and his passing was nice and crisp. I thought it was an excellent performance from the composed centre half and it was a performance for which he should be proud of.