In their penultimate Premier League 2 game of the season, Wayne Burnett’s Spurs under 23 side travelled to Manchester City’s Academy stadium on Friday, to face the Premier League Division One champions. Spurs were beaten 4-1 by the champions, but despite the scoreline I thought that Spurs played well, particularly during the second half and against such a good team. Defender Tobi Omole had a goal disallowed when the score was 3-1, and if that had been allowed then Spurs could have got something out of the game. Spurs lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation as Kacper Kurylowicz started in goal for the first time in a competitive game at this level. A back four consisting of Marcel Lavinier, Brooklyn Lyons-Foster, Tobi Omole and Dennis Cirkin started in front of him. Elliot Thorpe and captain Jamie Bowden started in central midfield, while J’Neil Bennett and Alfie Devine started out on the flanks, either side of CAM Dilan Markanday. Rodel Richards started up front for Spurs. Spurs got the game underway and an important early interception from Tobi Omole stopped James McAtee’s through-ball from reaching Liam Delap, who would have been through on goal. A Dilan Markanday free-kick from the left flank into the Manchester City box was challenged by Rodel Richards and Philippe Sandler, and the Man City defender managed to head the ball behind for a corner kick. Dennis Cirkin tried his luck from range but his effort went wide, after eventually receiving the ball from Alfie Devine’s corner kick. After Jamie Bowden conceded a free kick, Tommy Doyle stepped up to take it for the home side. The talented midfielders powerful curling effort from long range beat Kurylowicz at his near post, and nestled into his goal, 0-1.
Kurylowicz gathered Ben Knight’s cross from the right, before at the other end of the pitch Alfie Devine received J’Neil Bennett’s pass down the right flank, before pulling the ball back for Markanday inside the oppositions box. However, Markanday’s effort was deflected off of Finley Burns and over for a corner kick. Brooklyn Lyons-Foster had a low effort from distance go wide, before Elliot Thorpe had an effort blocked from range. After Liam Delap had received James McAtee’s pass inside the Spurs box he tried his luck on goal, but his powerful effort was well blocked by Lyons-Foster. Marcel Lavinier then blocked Cole Palmer’s effort as Manchester City continued to see a lot of the ball. After Claudio Gomes passed the ball to Cole Palmer down the right side of the Spurs box, Palmer attempted to score but Kurlyowicz saved well at his near post. Kurylowicz then saved Cole Palmer’s effort from the edge of the Spurs box. At the other end of the pitch Markanday saw his free-kick from the right flank gathered by James Trafford. After James McAtee had passed the ball to Ben Knight down the left side of the Spurs box, Knight powerfully hit the ball past Kurylowicz and into the top right corner of his goal to finish off a great move, 0-2. James Trafford punched clear a free-kick from Markanday before Kurylowicz did well to come out of his goal and get to the ball before Liam Delap could get to it inside the Spurs box, in what was the final piece of action from the first half. The champions got the game back underway for the second half and there was a change, as Kion Etete came on to replace Rodel Richards up front. After Liam Delap received James McAtee’s pass he skilfully worked his way into the Spurs box before getting past Omole and forcing a save out of Kurylowicz low down.
Philippe Sandler curled just wide of the goal from inside the Spurs box, before Etete managed to win the ball off of Claudio Gomes on the edge of the Spurs box, he gave the ball to Markanday, who then gave the ball to Bennett on the edge of the box, but his effort was pushed away by James Trafford. After receiving the ball Elliot Thorpe went on a good surging run through the middle before attempting to beat James Trafford from the edge of the Manchester City box, but his low effort went narrowly wide of the goal. Omole blocked Cole Palmer’s shot from inside the Spurs box, before Jamie Bowden received a yellow card. After coming inside from the right flank James McAtee saw his effort on goal go just wide. And shortly afterwards a great move from the home side resulted in Cole Palmer passing the ball to James McAtee on the left, and he then passed it to Claudio Gomes down the left side of the Spurs box and he then squared the ball for Liam Delap to tap home, 0-3. However, Spurs responded well, and Lyons-Forced a good reaction save from a header from Trafford, after meeting Markanday’s corner kick. James Trafford then managed to turn behind Tobi Omole’s header. Spurs managed to pull a goal back from the following corner kick, as Lyons-Foster once again met Markanday’s ball into the box, and his glancing header was headed in off the bar by a Manchester City player, 1-3. James Trafford saved Dilan Markanday’s shot on goal, before Etete forced a save from the goalkeeper, from a header, after meeting J’Neil Bennett’s cross.
The alert Elliot Thorpe did well to intercept Liam Delap’s pass inside the Spurs penalty area, before Jamie Bowden blocked the same players shot inside the box moments later. Cole Palmer came very close to scoring with an effort from distance, before Rafferty Pedder came on to replace Elliot Thorpe in midfield. After getting on the ball just outside of the Manchester City box, Kion Etete gave the ball to J’Neil Bennett, whose effort was turned behind by Trafford. Spurs then had a goal disallowed after Etete was adjudged by the referee to have fouled James Trafford, just before Tobi Omole scored. After going on a good forward run Bowden saw his effort on goal go over the bar, before he received J’Neil Bennett’s pass inside the Manchester City box not long afterwards. Bowden chipped the ball forward for Dilan Markanday, who skilfully worked his way past James Trafford, but then lost his balance and shot wide of the goal. After meeting Jamie Bowden’s corner kick, Dennis Cirkin had a header blocked, before Manchester City scored their fourth goal of the game. James McAtee latched onto Cole Palmer’s pass before running into the Spurs box and calmly curling the ball past Kacper Kurylowicz and into the left corner of the goal, 1-4. That was to be the last action of the game.
- Kacper Kurylowicz: Making his first ever competitive start at this level, goalkeeper Kacper Kurylowicz had a good game, I thought. Tommy Doyle’s opening free-kick goal was an excellent one, and I don’t think that you could criticise him for not keeping that out. In addition the 19 year old made some good saves, including a fine one at his near post. He distribution was also good throughout the game.
- Marcel Lavinier: The right-back liked to get forward, but he also did well in defence. And the former Chelsea player came inside quite often to help out the two Spurs central defenders.
- Brooklyn Lyons-Foster: After making an impressive early block, Lyons-Foster impressed with his positioning in defence. He brought the ball out well from the back along with Tobi Omole, and he liked to step forward out of the defence and join his teammates when they went forward on occasions. The 20 year old defender also scored a good headed goal, his second goal of the season.
- Tobi Omole: Starting the game at LCB, defender Tobi Omole like Lyons-Foster did all that he could possibly do to try and stop the talented Manchester City forwards from scoring. Omole has had a very good season for Spurs.
- Dennis Cirkin: I thought that this was a solid defensive performance front the 19 year old left-back, and he also went on some good forward runs down the left.
- Elliot Thorpe: My man of the match, see below.
- Jamie Bowden: The Spurs captain showed good skill on the ball and tried to influence the game with his impressive passing. Bowden was involved in some nice pieces of play going forward for Spurs, and the 19 year old went one particularly impressive forward run during the second half, as well as creating a good opportunity for Dilan Markanday to score from.
- J’Neil Bennett: The winger tried on a good number of occasions to test Manchester City goalkeeper James Trafford. And J’Neil Bennett tried to take on the opposing teams defenders when he had the ball out on the right flank.
- Dilan Markanday: Often drifting out to the left flank, Dilan Markanday impressed with his set-pieces (he assisted Brooklyn Lyons-Foster’s goal). Markanday also made some clever runs off the ball, and he worked very hard off it as well.
- Alfie Devine: Although he was wearing the number 11 shirt, midfielder Alfie Devine had more of a free role, and he would often come into more central positions to try and influence the game.
- Rodel Richards: The forward pressed the Manchester City goalkeeper and defence really well during his time on the pitch, but he didn’t have great service into his feet, and was therefore unable to make much of an impact on the game during the first half.
- Kion Etete: The second half substitute allowed Spurs to whip more crosses into the Spurs box, because of Kion’s height. He asked questions of the Manchester City defenders.
- Rafferty Pedder: The late substitute brought plenty of energy to the game from midfield, and he was always looking to receive the ball in good areas of the pitch.
My man of the match: Elliot Thorpe. A lot of Spurs players played well on Friday evening, and I could have given this man of the match award to many players. But playing as the deepest midfielder, Elliot Thorpe made a good impression on the game from that position, as he came forward from deep to try and create, and was in my opinion our most influential player going forward. The 20 year old looked to go on surging forward runs from deep when receiving the ball into his feet, and he tried to take players on and look to create chances. His work rate off the ball was also impressive, along with his powerful forward running. The Wales youth international also came very close to scoring with a low effort from distance.
Manchester City: Trafford, Gomes, Sandler, Burns, Egan-Riley, Lavia (Robertson 74), Palmer, Doyle (c), Delap, McAtee, Knight (F Nmecha 67). Substitutes (not used): Slicker, Robinson, Gbadebo.
Spurs: Kurylowicz, Lavinier, Cirkin, Thorpe (Pedder 82), Lyons-Foster, Omole, Bennett, Bowden (c), Richards (Etete 46), Markanday, Devine. Substitutes (not used): Maguire, Paskotsi.