Spurs Under 23’s 4-0 Enfield Town: (match report)

Wayne Burnett’s Spurs Under 23 side played their second friendly of pre-season on Tuesday evening, when they took on Enfield Town at the Queen Elizabeth II Stadium. Spurs won the match comfortably, winning it 4-0 and playing with real confidence throughout. Spurs started the game with Thimothée Lo-Tutala in goal, whilst Marcel Lavinier, Marqes Muir, captain Jubril Okedina and Jordan Hackett lined up in front of him. Matthew Craig and Yago Santiago teamed up in central midfield, and Romaine Mundle and J’Neil Bennett played out on the flanks, either side of CAM Dilan Markanday. Kion Etete led the line for Spurs. Enfield got the game underway and Spurs goalkeeper Lo-Tutala had to gather an early delivery from an Enfield free-kick. An early effort from the potent Dilan Markanday was saved by Enfield goalkeeper Nathan McDonald, before J’Neil Bennett then had a shot blocked by Rian Bray inside the Enfield box, with the ball then coming to Romaine Mundle, who forced another save out of McDonald. It was a good start from Spurs and after Santiago had curled an effort over the Enfield goal Spurs again went in search of the opening goal. After receiving Santiago’s pass inside the Enfield box Mundle had an effort saved by McDonald before Kion Etete came very close to scoring. Markanday’s clever pass over the top of the Enfield defence was met by the head of Etete, who nodded the ball past the out rushing McDonald, but the ball was cleared off of the line by Charley O’Keefe before rebounding the ball wide of Etete.

Jubril Okedina blocked an Enfield triallist’s effort inside the Spurs box before Mundle hit an effort over the Enfield crossbar at the other end of the pitch. After receiving Bennett’s pass Markanday forced a low save out of McDonald in the Enfield box. Mundle’s flicked effort from Markanday’s following corner kick was gathered by McDonald, before Kion Etete headed J’Neil Bennett’s cross wide. After putting pressure on McDonald in the Enfield goal Kion Etete came close to winning the ball off of the Enfield goalkeeper. Marqes Muir cleared a cross from the right before J’Neil Bennett’s diving header from Marcel Lavinier’s cross at the other end went narrowly wide of the Enfield goal, in what was a great chance for Spurs. A curling effort from distance from Bennett wasn’t properly caught by McDonald, with Markanday claiming that he had been caught by the Enfield goalkeeper when trying to get to the loose ball inside the penalty area. In the 24th minute of the game J’Neil Bennett scored the opener for Spurs. After receiving the ball on the left flank the 19 year old winger came inside onto his right foot before curling an unstoppable effort past McDonald and into the right hand corner of the Enfield goal, 1-0. After Mundle had passed the ball to Lavinier inside the Enfield box the right-back hit an effort wide on the turn. Then after receiving Etete’s pass on the left side of the pitch J’Neil Bennett came inside again onto his right foot before curling a spectacular dipping effort towards the Enfield goal. His effort came off the underside of the crossbar and appeared to cross the line from where I was standing, but the officials said to play on.

After Etete played a one-two with Bennett the Spurs centre-forward finished from the left side of the Enfield penalty area with a powerful strike which came off the underside of the Enfield crossbar, 2-0. Okedina blocked an Enfield triallist’s effort soon after the game started again, before a long throw from an Enfield player fell to another Enfield player inside the Spurs box, but Marqes Muir blocked his effort really well. Spurs made it 3-0 a matter of moments later after captain Jubril Okedina flicked home Dilan Markanday’s corner kick into the bottom left hand corner of the Enfield goal. Bennett hit an effort over the Enfield crossbar from down the left side of their penalty area, before Markanday had an effort blocked inside the box. After a corner kick came to Bennett inside the oppositions box he hit an effort wide of the goal, with Spurs in full control of the game. In the Spurs box the impressive Marqes Muir cut out a promising Enfield pass, before Mundle had an effort blocked from a good area at the other side of the pitch. For the start of the second half Spurs made three changes, with Brooklyn Lyons-Foster, Jamie Bowden and Michael Craig coming on for Dilan Markanday, Matthew Craig and Yago Santiago. Lo-Tutala saved an effort from Sam Youngs, just before Spurs made it 4-0. After Romaine Mundle’s cross from the right ended up falling kindly for J’Neil Bennett inside the Enfield box the Spurs player finished confidently to get his second goal of the game, 4-0.

J’Neil Bennett hit the ball across the face of the Enfield goal from a wide position before Lo-Tutala saved Percy Kiangebeni’s header at the other end of the pitch. After Bowden received Lyons-Foster’s pass the Republic of Ireland youth international had an effort on goal blocked, and then at other side of the pitch Lo-Tutala saved Manny Maja’s effort from distance. Kion Etete had an effort saved from close range by the Enfield goalkeeper, before Michael Craig had an effort gathered by the goalkeeper. Spurs made some more changes shortly afterwards as Roshaun Mathurin, Joshua Oluwayemi, Jez Davies, Dante Cassanova, Jeremy Kyezu and Khalon Haysman came on for Thimothée Lo-Tutala, Marcel Lavinier, Jordan Hackett, Marqes Muir, Romaine Mundle and J’Neil Bennett. Oluwayemi came on to make a good save from Enfield’s triallist centre-forward from a tight angle, before Lyons-Foster hit an effort across the face of the Enfield goal. Etete hit an effort from range just before Oluwayemi saved well from Matt Walsh’s effort, and substitute Jeremy Kyezu stopped a promising Enfield attack, in what was the final piece of action from the match.

Player reviews:

  • Thimothée Lo-Tutala: The Paris born goalkeeper didn’t have an awful lot to do during his time on the pitch, particularly during the first half. However, during the second half Lo-Tutala made a small number of saves.
  • Marcel Lavinier: The right-back went on some good forward runs down the right flank and he linked up well with Romaine Mundle during his time on the pitch. 
  • Marqes Muir: The RCB was very solid during his time on the pitch. Muir blocked a good Enfield effort well and also cut out a promising attack from the home side during the first half.
  • Jubril Okedina: The Spurs captain scored a goal and also defended well at LCB.
  • Jordan Hackett: The young left-back supported J’Neil Bennett at times although he mainly stayed deep to defend.
  • Matthew Craig: The energetic central midfielder covered a lot of ground in the central areas of the pitch, before being replaced by his brother Michael for the second half.
  • Yago Santiago: Playing as a number eight Yago Santiago helped to link the play well, and he also made some good forward runs off the ball.
  • Romaine Mundle: The 18 year old right winger went on some good forward bursts out wide, and he tried his luck with a couple of efforts on the Enfield goal.
  • Dilan Markanday: The very skilful CAM looked very potent during the first half with his fine runs with the ball, and he also registered an assist and created an great chance for Kion Etete early on in the game.
  • J’Neil Bennett: My man of the match, see below.
  • Kion Etete: The centre-forward set up J’Neil Bennett’s second goal of the game, scored a well taken goal himself and also was unlucky not to score more on the day. I thought that Etete also linked the play well against Enfield as well as working hard off the ball.
  • Brooklyn Lyons-Foster: Playing as the deepest midfielder Brooklyn Lyons-Foster patrolled the midfield well and also supported Jamie Bowden when going forward at times as well.
  • Jamie Bowden: Constantly looking to get on the ball, classy midfielder Jamie Bowden tried to influence the game positively every time that he got on the ball against Enfield. He moved well with the ball and without it, and showed some nice skill during his time on the pitch.
  • Michael Craig: Hardworking and always looking to get on the ball, Michael Craig played out of position as a CAM in the second half, where I thought that he did well.
  • Joshua Oluwayemi: The 20 year old goalkeeper made two strong stops after coming on late on in the second half.
  • Dante Cassanova: The versatile player did well at right-back when coming on for the latter stages of the second half.
  • Jeremy Kyezu: The left-back helped to stop a promising late Enfield attack.
  • Roshaun Mathurin: Playing out on the left wing after replacing J’Neil Bennett, I thought that Mathurin was unlucky as Spurs didn’t seem too focus much on playing down the left hand side of the pitch during the latter stages of the match.
  • Jez Davies: The former Leyton Orient Academy player replaced Marqes Muir for the latter part of the match at RCB.
  • Khalon Haysman: The midfielder came on late in the game and looked good on the ball during his time on the pitch. 

My man of the match: J’Neil Bennett. Following on from his great performance against Ramsgate on Saturday, winger J’Neil Bennett (19) caused so many problems for the Enfield defence on Tuesday with his unpredictable play. Bennett took both of his goals (particularly the first one) really well and his driving forward runs and skill on the ball were very good indeed. He was very unlucky not to score a hat-trick on the day.

My piece on Spurs’ skilful and highly promising midfielder Alfie Devine:

It was not long before the first lockdown when I had first seen Alfie Devine (16) play live. Although it wasn’t for too long (around half an hour) Devine came on with half an hour to go against non-League side Croydon FC in the third round of the 2019/20 seasons FA Youth Cup for Wigan Athletic’s Under 18 side, up in Wigan. I had travelled up there on the day of the game to see who Spurs’ Under 18 side would face in the fourth round of the competition, and I was also intrigued to see Wigan’s very talented Under 18 side play. That Wigan side contained Sean McGurk (now of Leeds United) who was also excellent in the following round against Spurs, and a player who I was hoping that we would sign. However, Warrington born midfielder Alfie Devine came on and scored a well taken headed goal after connecting with a cross from the left, following a good run into the Croydon box. What I really noticed about Devine during that 8-1 win to Wigan was the passion and desire with which he showed on the pitch, and also his commitment to the game, and to his team. Devine came on late on in the game against Spurs, which Wigan (they had been unbeaten for a long period of time) comfortably won 2-0. I do remember Devine stopping a late attack from Spurs well during his brief time on the pitch. The then 15 year old player who was a regular and important player for Wigan’s Under 18 side during the 2019/20 season, and who also impressed later on in the FA Youth Cup in a game against Manchester United, would join Spurs from Wigan for the start of the following 2020/21 season. 

Not long after turning 16 in the August of 2020 he made his first team debut for Spurs’ first team in a pre-season friendly win over Ipswich Town as a substitute, before the start of the competitive season (potentially Spurs’ youngest ever player to feature in a first team friendly). He made an additional appearance against Reading in another friendly at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium that summer. Devine started the first competitive game for the Spurs Under 18 side (2020/21), the following month, and by all accounts he was excellent in central midfield, as Spurs won the game 4-1. During last season Alfie Devine made an additional 11 competitive appearances for Spurs’ Under 18 side, scoring two goals and registering two assists. Devine also stepped up to make 12 competitive appearances for Wayne Burnett’s Spurs Under 23 side, scoring two goals and registering one assist. His fine form for both the Under 18’s and 23’s was rewarded by then Spurs manager José Mourinho, who gave Devine his competitive first team debut (youngest ever player and goalscorer for Spurs’ first team as a substitute against non-League side Marine), in the third round of that seasons FA Cup. Devine scored a well taken goal against Marine, and he showed great confidence on the ball during his 45 minutes on the pitch, and was always looking to receive it in good areas. The young midfielder also made the bench on two other occasions for Spurs’ first team in competitive games (although he didn’t feature in either of those games). Alfie is the son of talented former St Helens Rugby League player Sean Devine, who played as a half-back for St Helens, during his time at the club.

So what type of player is Alfie Devine? Well the England youth international is mainly a midfield player, who can play as a four, eight and as a CAM. Devine is also capable of playing out wide (mainly on the left), although last season for Spurs he played in a variety of positions at Under 18 and 23 level. For England at Under 16 level the midfielder played as the deepest of a midfield two, where he is capable of spraying the ball around the park from deep, and also pushing forward at times. Devine is a very tough player who is strong in the challenge and tenacious off the ball, but as a deep-lying midfield player he is very capable of patrolling that area of the pitch well, and also at keeping the ball moving in the central areas. The technical midfield player can also play a far more advanced midfield role, which allows him to influence the game more in the final third. A highly intelligent player who has great reactions on the pitch, Devine takes up clever forward positions, and he times his forwards runs into the oppositions box very well. Sharp and quick on the ball, the former Wigan Athletic player who also spent time in Liverpool’s Academy setup, has demonstrated in games his ability to score goals from a variety of positions. Good in the air and with a powerful shot at his disposal, Alfie Devine also registers a good amount of assists. With fine vision for a forward pass, I’ve noticed in games that he has played in that the Englishman likes to try and play lofted balls over the top of defences, to try and put the centre-forward through on goal.

Devine’s passing ability is in my opinion of his greatest attributes, and the weight and accuracy of his forward passes are consistently very good. He is just so confident on the ball and he seems to believe a lot in his own ability on the pitch, which will help him a lot as he continues to progress at Spurs. Devine is also very skilful on the ball, and in the games that I have watched him play he has always looked to take on and beat players for skill, and he is an agile player as well. Just as impressive off the ball, Alfie Devine is a strong and physical player who can more than hold his own in situations. He works incredibly hard off the ball and presses players to great effect, whilst also not being at all afraid to make forceful sliding challenges (he has a good amount of aggression to his game, and he plays the game with real bite). A mature player for his age, Alfie put in some of his best performances from games that I saw him play in last season, in two particular matches. The first one against Chelsea Under 18’s in a league game, saw him dictate the match from the CAM role for large periods of his 62 minutes on the pitch. Aggressive and assertive, and showing his usual great skill on the ball, Devine got an assist for one of Spurs’ goals in the second half, after making a really clever pass with the outside of his boot from a wide position to force an error from a Chelsea defender. He took up wide positions a fair bit in that game, demanded the ball in good positions and also worked very well off the ball.

In the second game which I will briefly write about, Devine also played as a CAM, with this game an Under 23 game against Derby County, up in Loughborough. Spurs were reduced to ten men early on in that game, but Devine really stepped up and put in a very mature performance. He worked really hard for the team, tried to influence the game by making clever forward passes, and also came close to scoring after going on a good forward run with the ball. However, it was his sheer determination to want the ball, try and create and also show tenacity when tracking back in the midfield areas of the pitch, which made him by far Spurs’ most influential player. Probably still too young to go out on loan this season, Devine featured off the bench for Spurs’ first team in a pre-season friendly against Leyton Orient last Saturday, and he’ll be hoping to get plenty more opportunities during pre-season. And with the first team playing in the UEFA Europa Conference League this season, the very promising young player will most certainly be hoping to get a good amount of game time in that competition. I think it goes without saying that Alfie has a big future in the game, and he’s at a great club to continue developing his game. He should be very proud of what he has achieved in his short career so far, and I for one am really looking forward to seeing the former Wigan player play a lot more this season, after having a big influence on the Under 18’s and 23’s last campaign. 

Spurs Under 23’s versus Enfield Town: (match preview)

After beating non-League side Ramsgate FC 6-0 on Saturday afternoon, Wayne Burnett’s Spurs Under 23 side take on seventh tier (one tier above Ramsgate) side Enfield Town on Tuesday. The game which takes place at the Queen Elizabeth II Stadium (the game starts at 19:00pm) is the third friendly meeting between the two sides in recent years, with Enfield Town winning the most recent friendly 2-0 back in 2019. Enfield Town actually have two Spurs connections at the club, in assistant manager Mario Noto, who used to play for Spurs’ youth team in the early 2000s, and also current player Billy Bricknell, who plays as a centre-forward, and who was also at Spurs in the 2000s. A physical and more experienced side than Ramsgate, Enfield Town will be a tougher test for Spurs tomorrow, which will help them prepare further for the new PL2 season. Spurs’ comfortable but impressive 6-0 win over Ramsgate last Saturday saw some excellent performances. Dilan Markanday was outstanding as a CAM (it will be interesting to see whether he gets a chance to play for the first team against Colchester United on Wednesday), and winger J’Neil Bennett was unstoppable going forward at times. However, the whole side played well. With the first team playing Colchester United in a friendly on Wednesday night, it will be interesting to see who plays for Spurs’ Under 23 side against Enfield on Tuesday. Kion Etete went off injured early on in Saturday’s game against Ramsgate, so I would imagine that he will be a doubt for tomorrow’s match at Enfield. With Dane Scarlett and Troy Parrott with the first team, that could potentially give first year scholar and centre-forward Jamie Donley (16) a chance to make his debut for the Under 23 side.

I will be attending and reporting on tomorrow’s match, with my match report out at some point the following day. 

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Lo-Tutala, Lavinier, Muir, Okedina (c), Hackett, Matthew Craig, Michael Craig, Santiago, Haysman, Bennett, Donley.

Subs from: Kurylowicz, Kyezu, Cassanova, Davies, Mathurin, Mukendi. 

Injured/unavailable: N/A.

Doubtful: Kion Etete.

Previous meeting: Spurs 0-2.

My score prediction: Spurs 2-1.

My one to watch: Billy Bricknell (32). The experienced centre-forward and former Spurs youth player impressed in the last meeting between the two sides, especially with his hold up play and movement off the ball. Bricknell is also a clinical finisher.

Spurs Under 23’s 6-0 Ramsgate FC: (match report)

Spurs’ Under 23 side played their first friendly of pre-season on Saturday afternoon, when Wayne Burnett’s side took on non-League side Ramsgate FC at the WW Martin Community Stadium. Spurs were very impressive against the non-League side and during the first half their high intensity game proved far too much for Ramsgate. During the second half the home side grew into the game more, but then Spurs added two further goals to win the game 6-0 on the day. Spurs started the game with Joshua Oluwayemi in goal. A back four consisting of Marcel Lavinier, Marqes Muir, Jubril Okedina and Jordan Hackett lined up in front of him. Twins Matthew Craig and Michael Craig started the game in central midfield, whilst Yago Santiago and J’Neil Bennett started out on the flanks, either side of CAM Dilan Markanday. Kion Etete led the line for Spurs. Unfortunately I couldn’t manage to get a team-sheet today at the match, so therefore I don’t know the names of the Ramsgate players, and can only refer to them by their number. I do apologise about this. Ramsgate got the game underway on a very hot summers day in Kent, but it was Spurs who started the match the better of the two teams. Spurs were up for the game right from the start, and they took the lead very early on in the match through the skilful Dilan Markanday. The 19 year old latched onto Matthew Craig’s forward pass before travelling with the ball towards the edge of the Ramsgate box, and then hitting an unstoppable low effort past the Ramsgate goalkeeper and into the bottom right hand corner of the goal, 1-0.

Ramsgate’s number five ended up hitting the ball against Markanday on the edge of the Ramsgate box soon after the game got back underway. However, Markanday’s first touch let him down, and the Ramsgate goalkeeper was able to gather the ball. Kion Etete managed to win the ball off of Ramsgate’s number six soon afterwards after pressing him well, before then threading a nice pass to J’Neil Bennett inside the Ramsgate box. Bennett showed good composure on the ball before just tucking it low past the goalkeeper and into the back of the net, 2-0. A lovely lofted through-ball from Spurs captain Jubril Okedina managed to pick out the run of Markanday, who ran forward into the Ramsgate box, before hitting an effort against the crossbar. Yago Santiago was quickest to the rebound, but his following effort was saved by the goalkeeper. After Michael Craig made a forceful challenge on number 18 to win the ball, he passed the ball to J’Neil Bennett, who then forced a save out of the goalkeeper. A really well worked move ended in Spurs scoring their third goal of the game, not long afterwards. Bennett’s pass down the left to Etete saw the Spurs striker advance into the oppositions box, before then threading a pass across to Markanday in the centre of the box, and his low effort went into the back of the net, 3-0. Soon after Ramsgate got the game back underway J’Neil received the ball on the left flank. He then cut inside onto his right foot and let fly, and his wonderful effort hit the crossbar. Roshaun Mathurin came on to replace Kion Etete, after he had picked up an injury. Yago Santiago went up front, whilst Mathurin occupied the right flank.

After Markanday had played a quick one-two with Santiago in the Ramsgate box, he had a shot blocked. And then a couple of moments later the player from Barnet had an effort saved from inside the Ramsgate box. Dilan Markanday was really dictating the game from the CAM role, and he won a free-kick right on the edge of the Ramsgate box after being fouled followed a wonderful turn from the Spurs man. J’Neil Bennett’s following curling effort was saved by the Ramsgate goalkeeper. After Bennett had received Markanday’s pass down the left he traveled into the Ramsgate box, before squaring the ball to Markanday, but his flicked effort on goal was blocked by a Ramsgate defender. The excellent Dilan Markanday got a first half hat-trick after latching onto the Ramsgate goalkeepers pass out from his own box, and he then slotted the ball beyond him and into the back of the net to make it 4-0 before half-time. Spurs got the second half underway and an early move from Spurs saw Bennett pass the ball to Mathurin down the right side of the Ramsgate box, but his resulting effort on goal was saved. Spurs made a number of changes shortly afterwards as Thimothée Lo-Tutala, Jeremy Kyezu, Dante Cassanova and Khalon Haysman came on to replace Joshua Oluwayemi, Jordan Hackett, J’Neil Bennett and Michael Craig. Just before he had been replaced J’Neil Bennett had won a free-kick on the edge of the Ramsgate box, but Dilan Markanday’s resulting effort went over the crossbar. After playing a one-two with Haysman down the right flank Marcel Lavinier crossed the ball into the Ramsgate box. Santiago received the ball and trapped it under his feet, before then having a shot blocked by Ramsgate’s number two.

Ramsgate’s impressive number ten tried to catch Lo-Tutala off his line with an effort from distance, but the Spurs goalkeeper saved his effort. Markanday managed to latch onto a long ball over the top inside the Ramsgate box, but his resulting low effort was saved by the goalkeeper. However, Markanday was again involved in play in the final third moments later. This time he went into the Ramsgate box before squaring the ball for Haysman. His initial effort was blocked by a defender, but his second effort saw him curl the ball into the top right hand corner of the goal, to make it 5-0 to Spurs. Jez Davies came on to replace Matthew Craig in central midfield before Lavinier played a long ball up to Haysman, who ended up rounding the Ramsgate goalkeeper and coming very close to finding the back of the net with his effort, which went just wide of the goal. Lo-Tutala was alert to tip behind a powerfully struck effort from distance from Ramsgate’s number four. J’Neil Bennett then came back on (the game had rolling substitutions) to replace Dilan Markanday, and he made an instant impact. After winning the ball off of Ramsgate’s number six on the edge of their box, Bennett finished emphatically inside the bottom left hand corner of the goal, 6-0. Matthew Craig came on to replace Marcel Lavinier for the final minutes of the game. The excellent J’Neil Bennett went on an excellent surging forward run past a couple of Ramsgate players and into the Ramsgate box, before unfortunately giving away a foul. 

Ramsgate’s number ten came very close to lobbing the ball over Lo-Tutala towards the end of the game, before Ramsgate’s number two blocked Bennett’s effort at the other end of the pitch. Spurs’ Under 23 side play Enfield Town in their next pre-season friendly, which is on Tuesday.

Player reviews:

  • Joshua Oluwayemi: The 20 year old goalkeeper didn’t actually have a save to make today, as during the first half Ramsgate didn’t actually have a shot on goal. Oluwayemi only played the first half of the match. 
  • Marcel Lavinier: Playing at right-back Marcel Lavinier often stayed deep, although he did support the attack on occasions. The former Chelsea player put in a solid defensive performance. 
  • Marqes Muir: RCB Marqes Muir brought the ball out from the back well along with Jubril Okedina, but he wasn’t tested an awful lot at centre-half on the day. But what he did do he did well.
  • Jubril Okedina: The Spurs captain wasn’t tested too much today, like Marqes Muir, but he was solid in defence and got in front of the forward players well in situations. Okedina also made some fine long forward passes.
  • Jordan Hackett: Like Marcel Lavinier on the opposite flank, second year scholar Jordan Hackett (17) often stayed deep. He defended well and made some good passes down the left flank. 
  • Matthew Craig: Forceful in the challenge, Matthew Craig patrolled the midfield alongside his twin brother well. Matthew was authoritative in the central areas of the pitch and he also assisted Dilan Markanday’s opening goal of the game. This was a good performance from the hardworking midfielder, who also filled in at RCB during the latter stages of the second half.
  • Michael Craig: Playing as a number eight, Michael Craig put in a strong performance in central midfield and he showed good strength both on and off the ball during his time on the pitch.
  • Yago Santiago: Former Celta Vigo Academy player Yago Santiago started the game out on the right wing. Santiago showed good feet and was involved in some good play during his time on the pitch. Santiago later played at centre-forward, and I was impressed with his movement off the ball at times when playing in that position.
  • Dilan Markanday: My man of the match, see below.
  • J’Neil Bennett: The 19 year old was excellent out on the left flank throughout his time on the pitch. Bennett showed great skill and pace, and he was constantly looking to take the Ramsgate players on. Some of his forward runs were brilliant, especially when he came inside from the left flank onto his right foot. Both of his goals were well taken.
  • Kion Etete: The centre-forward was only on the pitch for 23 minutes, when he was forced off because of injury. Etete linked the play well up front and even dropped deep on occasions, and the 19 year old was directly involved in two goals (two assists). This was a good performance from Kion, even though he wasn’t on the pitch for too long. Hopefully he’ll be back playing again soon.
  • Roshaun Mathurin: Replacing the injured Kion Etete and then going out to play out on the right flank, skilful winger Roshaun Mathurin showed good skill on the ball in the wide positions, and his movement off the ball was also good.
  • Thimothée Lo-Tutala: The second half substitute made one good save late on in the game.
  • Jeremy Kyezu: The 18 year old defender came on during the second half, and during his time on the pitch he played at left-back. He did well in the second half.
  • Dante Cassanova: The midfielder played in central midfield and he won the ball well in the central areas of the pitch. 
  • Khalon Haysman: The second half substitute made a really good impact on the game. Haysman (17) moved the ball around well from midfield, scored a well taken goal and also came close to scoring a second after rounding the Ramsgate goalkeeper and only just misplacing his effort.
  • Jez Davies: Former Leyton Orient Academy player Jez Davies came off the bench during the second half and made some nice passes and was also nice involved in the game.

My man of the match: Dilan Markanday. I lost count of the amount of chances that the highly skilful CAM was involved in today. The 19 year old really controlled the game at times, and with his excellent balance and ability on the ball he really caused a lot of problems for the Ramsgate defence. Scoring a well deserved hat-trick, Markanday took all three of his goals well, but the wonderful skill which would have surely ended in him scoring his fourth goal of the game but for a foul from a Ramsgate player, would have been the best of the match. It’s also worth noting that he worked really hard off the ball as well. Dilan was involved in a lot of what was great about Spurs’ performance today. I’m hoping that he will get a chance to play for the first team this pre-season. 

Spurs Under 23’s versus Ramsgate FC: (match preview)

Wayne Burnett’s Spurs Under 23 side will play their first game of pre-season on Saturday (the game starts at 15:00pm), when they travel to Kent to play Ramsgate FC at their newly refurbished WW Martin Community Stadium. Spurs play the Isthmian League South East Division side for the first time in a number of years, and it will be a good test for the Spurs Under 23 team, in what is their first of five pre-season friendlies this summer. Spurs’ first team are also playing on Saturday afternoon, as they take on Leyton Orient in their first match of pre-season, so that means that some of the players from the Under 23 side will be playing in that game rather than in the Ramsgate game. I have noticed on Spurs’ social media channels that Tobi Omole, Dane Scarlett, Harvey White, Kion Etete, Jubril Okedina and TJ Eyoma are just some of the players who have been training with the first team recently. Ramsgate play their football in the eighth tier of English football, one tier below our opponents next Tuesday – Enfield Town. Whilst I don’t know a great deal about Ramsgate’s side, I do know that it will be a good first test for Wayne Burnett’s side, and one which will hopefully also see some of the Spurs Under 18 side get minutes in. Although there is currently 31 players in our Under 23 side. Skilful former Gillingham forward Ashley Miller (26) is one player who could cause Spurs some problems on Saturday. This is a good opportunity for Spurs’ Under 23 side to test themselves against a physical senior team, and it should be a good competitive game in front of a good crowd.

I’m really looking forward to attending my first Spurs Under 23 game in person since March 2020, and of course I will be reporting back from the Ramsgate game, with my match report hopefully out at some point on Sunday. I would like to wish the team all the very best of luck for the match.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Lo-Tutala, Lavinier, Fagan-Walcott, Lyons-Foster (c), Cirkin, Devine, Michael Craig, Bennett, Pedder, Markanday, Mukendi.

Subs from: Kurylowicz, Lusala, Muir, Santiago, Mundle, Robson, Donley.

Injured/unavailable: N/A.

Doubtful: N/A.

Previous meeting: N/A.

My score prediction: Spurs 4-1.

My one to watch: Skilful former Gillingham forward Ashley Miller (26).

My interview with former Spurs player David Ishmail:

David Ishmail was a left-sided midfield player during the early 1970s at Spurs, as a youth team player. The West Ham born former footballer who played in the same Spurs youth team as the likes of Keith Osgood and Chris Jones, was a midfield player who loved to be on the ball. During his time at Spurs, David Ishmail was a part of the Spurs youth side that won the 1971/72 South East Counties League 11  Cup final. David later went into non-League and Saturday football, and he notably played for Leytonstone F.C. David’s son James, also played football and he had a long career playing for Romford F.C. I recently had the great pleasure of interviewing David Ishmail, who is a really nice man, about his time at Spurs back in the early 1970s.

What are your earliest footballing memories in general. And how did you about joining Spurs and what are your earliest memories of your time at the club?

David: From when I could stand up I was kicking a ball indoors, and where we lived was a block of council flats, and out in the back was a playground. There was about five or six blocks and we all used to play goal to goal, and we were out there playing football from after we had our breakfast until late at night. And we’d only come inside to have something to eat, and then we’d be back out there playing football until it got dark, and that was great. I’ve always played football and I was in the primary school side from seven until eleven, and in almost every side that I played for I was captain. I later played for my district side when I was only ten, and I played for the Under 11’s side, and then when I went to the senior school in Canning Town which was called South West Ham Tech, I played for the district team from 11 until 15. What happened was that we had a cup final which was played at Clapton FC, and we won 6-3. Left-side of midfield was where I played, and that day I got a hat-trick. Anyway this man came over to me and he introduce himself as Norman Corbett and that he was a scout. Funnily enough he played in the same West Ham side as the main scout at Spurs, who was called Dickie Walker. Again he was a bit of a character, but anyway Norman Corbett was scouting for Spurs and he asked me if I wanted to come down for some trials at Cheshunt. I didn’t know where Cheshunt was as it was over at Hertfordshire, but I said that of course I’d come down there. With that trial at Cheshunt for the first time that I came down there was 200 boys there.

 But anyway they put you on in a match for ten minutes or a quarter of an hour to have a look at you, and then they gradually whittled it down, so by the end of the day there’d only be a hundred footballers there, and they’d ask you to come back next Saturday. So they eventually whittled it down to a squad after I came back, and then I eventually came back for pre-season games and I loved it, and I loved the training. But there was a certain irony to joining Spurs as I didn’t know Norman Corbett and Dickie Walker, but I knew Ronnie Henry by name and what he’d achieved at Spurs with the double side. So the squad itself was a mixture of apprentices and full-time ground-staff and players like me who were classed as amateurs. Most of the lads who came down on Tuesday and Thursday nights were only amateurs, and there were a few such as Roy Woolcott who were lucky enough to get signed on as professionals when they were 17/18, and also Eddie Jones, who was one or two years older than us. This club was wealthy and quite okay to write out a check for a player, rather than progressing the youth players, and they had some good youth players here. And I do think that that worked against them, but West Ham have always done that. Although that is my earliest memories of coming to Spurs, I did actually go to West Ham. I did go for a trial but it was one of those mass trials again, and I didn’t get through that. But if they’d have said to me did I want to come and join, then I’d have probably gone there, because that’s where I used to go every Saturday afternoon to watch the reserves.

I’ll give you an instance of the training down at Cheshunt one pre-season, when we were doing a training routine. You stood in the centre circle and you’d have someone flying down the wing, and they’d cross the ball into the box. You had to go from the centre circle into the penalty spot, and try and score a headed goal. And on that particular night Bill Nicholson was over there, and he didn’t like what he was seeing from some people. He stopped it and called everybody in and said that when you head a ball all you’ve got to do is throw your eyes at it. And if you throw your eyes at it then it will hit you on the forehead and it won’t hurt. I carried that tip with me and told it to my lads when they played, and it was a terrific tip, which worked. At White Hart Lane, under one of the stands we used to do a drill, and they used to hang a ball on a rope from one of the rafters, and would it swing at all angles. You would line up in two lines in two different places, and alternately you had to go and head the ball, and that most certainly made me better as a footballer. Next to the gym at the ground there was a little room where you used to do sit-ups and all other sorts of exercises, which was great. I was always one who thinks that you get out what you put in, and if you’re going to cheat then you are cheating yourself, and I don’t like that attitude. Another really good trainer was Bobby Scarth, as he wanted to be at training and he did everything that was asked. You used to have a target and also a line up on a wall at the ground, which you used to have to try and hit with the ball. So it was just basic and competitive training, which you did if you wanted to get better.

Did you have any footballing heroes/inspirations and if so who were they?

David: It’s funny that you’ve got England in the final of the Euros tomorrow, and people are saying don’t forget to do your lucky things and set routines. Well that links into my close hero, and probably many people in the same country had the same hero, and that was Bobby Moore. I once read that the last thing that he put on before a game was his shorts, and so I did that as well. When he used to lead the team out he used to have the ball on his left thigh while he was holding the ball, and so I copied and imitated him. So he was my all time hero, and he even served me once at his pub in Stratford. 

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

David: Obviously I looked up to the better senior players, but I used to also look up to what people did in their training routines. I always used to learn from people. I remember one time as we drove into Cheshunt we saw Graeme Souness looking really double smart, standing there with his hands in his pockets. He was a really good player but he wanted to be in the Spurs side tomorrow, and so that’s why he clashed with Bill Nicholson and went off to Middlesbrough. So anyway I looked at all  of those people, but I also looked at Danny Clapton and even John Cook. So the people that I played with and trained with I looked up to, and also there was Bobby Scarth, who I admired immensely, and his disability didn’t hold him back, it actually made him try harder. There were some good characters at Spurs who had that determination. I also looked at the first team, and players like Steve Perryman. How was he in the first team at 17? He done it because he was a good footballer, and okay he needs other pieces of the jigsaws to fall into place, but at that time he was an exception. And I honestly don’t know who was the next one from the youth set-up who went onto regularly play for the Spurs first team, apart from Keith Osgood. Also, Danny Clapton was a real serious player for me, and I don’t know why Spurs ever released him.

Could you describe to me what type of player you were and what positions you played in during your time at Spurs?

David: I was an out and out midfielder, and my choice of position was as a left-midfielder, which was just in-front of the full-back. I liked to play in that position because I wanted to be involved in the game, and I could make tackles but I used to think that I could get on the ball and finish chances off. So I liked to be involved in the game, and along with my skills I also used to work on my stamina, and I enjoyed that. So that’s where I played from my primary days until I stopped playing, and just as a side issue my last game of football was playing in a charity game for a mate. That game was played at West Ham and it was against his sons’ Sunday side – Rippleway. And so I played at West Ham in the same side as my eldest son. But since then I haven’t played football, as your body catches up with you.

Were there any players at Spurs who you would watch closely to try and improve your game or look to learn from?

David: Particularly I would work on my own heading, and so I would look at John Field, who was good in the air. There was a player who was a bit more of a senior player, and he was called Joe Peck. He was an out and out centre-half who used to win all of his headers, and so I would watch centre-halves like them and see how they would head the ball. Of course there was John Pratt, who you could learn things from, and he was an enthusiastic and tireless player that you could learn stuff off. I think that you could learn bits off of everybody along the way, and so I would watch everybody. I was relatively two footed, although I was right footed, but I played on the left and so I worked on my left foot, and I made sure that I used it in training. So I was always looking to improve and I think that they are lessons that apply to today.

What was your time at the Lilywhites like on the whole?

David: Fantastic! When I look back now and say to people that I played for Spurs, I think that they don’t think that it’s a big deal, but they don’t realise that you had to go through that process of going to two Saturdays of four or five hours at Cheshunt. And that was gradually whittled down from 200 players to a squad of 18/20 players, and so it was tough. But if you stood out or you were lucky enough, then you got through it and you got signed. But overall it was great.

What prompted you to leave Spurs and could you talk me through your career after you left the Lilywhites?

David: I had the two years at Spurs and then they wrote to me in the summer to tell me when pre-season was to start, but I didn’t go. The reason why I didn’t go was because that when I went from here, I went to Leytonstone and I was only 18 then. I thought that if I stay at Spurs then am I still going to play, because they had age limits, but anyway I didn’t come back. But did I do the right thing? I probably should have given it a go, but I had the opportunity to go to Leytonstone, who were in the Isthmian League, and at that time that was classed as like the fifth division. So I went to Leytonstone and they were a good side who had three England amateur internationals. So they gave me a shirt at Leytonstone and I went to them and did okay, before later going to Harlow, which was a decent standard of football. All of that time I was playing with my mates for a team in Leyton called Goodall, in Saturday football. The nucleus of the side was seven or eight players, and ridiculously one year we got into 11 cup finals. But I look back and think should I have gone back to pre-season training at Spurs, but I thought that the decision that I made at the time was right, and I still think that it was right. They probably wouldn’t have signed me as a professional as they already had apprentice professionals, but anyway I loved my time at Spurs and I still talk about it now with a smile on my face, and with great memories about characters at the club, and also the training.

I remember after one game at Cheshunt that they used to give us towels which had the cockerel on it, and I used to think that this was alright! And I remember that Ronnie Henry would say to us to go and see Jimmy Joyce to get your wages, and he was a character. I can remember going to the club house and there would be Jimmy sitting there, while the tea ladies would be at the other side. After I left school I went to work in a stockbrokers in the city, just off of London Wall, and then at half past five I would get the train from Liverpool Street down to White Hart Lane. From White Hart Lane I would get the coach to training, before later having to get back to east London, and so it was great. So I do look back on my time at Spurs with pride and I did enjoy my time at the club.

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

David: To pin it down to one it would be when we won the South East Counties League 11  Cup final, as we worked our way through the rounds and won it. But I suppose also it was to be appreciated and recognised, and without blowing my own trumpet I wasn’t too bad, as Spurs don’t take on anybody. But overall I can remember playing for a Sunday team, and we got to this cup final and then had to play this side who were based just the other side of the Blackwall Tunnel. Both teams fancied it, but we actually won that game in extra time, and so that was greatly satisfying. 

Who was the greatest player that you have had the pleasure of sharing a pitch with? 

David: There were lots of good players but I would have to look at Danny Clapton. I do have a sense of mystified sadness about that, because what’s gone wrong for him not to make it in the game, as he had it all there and he could have gone to any club in the country. So I would say that Danny Clapton was the best player, as he wasn’t one of those players who would say that he was really good, like Graeme Souness, who was a bit like that. But also there was my mate Keith Hayzleden, who played for Enfield.

Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories or ones which stand out from your time in the various Tottenham youth teams?

David: I think that it was the whole experience really, rather than the games themselves. I can remember playing against teams like Crystal Palace and Chelsea, and also Millwall in an FA Youth Cup game, and that was quite intimidating, but that was a great memory as we won the game. I just really enjoyed the whole process of coming down to Tottenham and getting on the coach and going to training, and being part of Tottenham. They were a big club then and still are now, but then they were always a top four/five team. But when I look back on my time at Spurs I think that I did okay, but there is just that little bit of uncertainty, because should I have come back for pre-season on my third year? But I think that I was being pulled away to come to Leytonstone, but I don’t regret it as it’s sad to have regrets. I can go through a list of players from my time at Spurs, players like Steve Outram. He was like a quiet sort of character who was a bit shy, but when he got on a pitch he expressed himself, and he was so quick. Steve Oliver was another really quick player, and then you had John Cook and Kevin Worsfold, who were not big lads but they were strong in the challenge, and also tenacious. I look back on my time at Spurs as a good experience of life. 

Who has been the toughest player that you have ever came up against?

David: I would think that goes into playing Sunday football, but I don’t actually have a name of a single player. But I didn’t get intimidated by people, and that’s how I was. We had some tough players like John Field and Bobby Scarth, who were tough characters.

Were there any players at Spurs who you were particularly close to?

David: I felt that there was a good team spirit at Spurs when I was at the club. Me and John Cook and also Gary Anderson and John Field were close, and we would go into the cafe next to White Hart Lane. 

What would your advice be to the young Spurs players of today as they look to break into the first team?

David: My advice would be to watch, look and listen to all of the good advice and to not cheat on your training or take a step back. Put yourself 100% wholeheartedly into it, as it’s a fantastic opportunity and you won’t get it ever again. It’s a stepping stone to a wonderful life, and it’s what people do on Saturday’s and Sunday’s for nothing. It’s a wonderful game and if you’ve got that opportunity then don’t waste it. Also, don’t have any regrets.

After all these years how do you look back on your time at the Lilywhites and is Spurs a club who you still hold close to your heart?

David: Yes. They would be my second club, even though I can’t go away from the boys in the claret and blue.

My interview with former Spurs player Brian Parkinson: 

As a player Brian Parkinson was a very skilful forward thinking one, but like so many others his professional career was ended early because of injury. A youth team and later reserve team player for Spurs, where he was a regular for a number of years during the 1960s, Brian Parkinson later played non-League football with Kings Lynn and Stevenage Borough. I recently had the great pleasure of talking to Brian about his time at Spurs. 

What are your earliest footballing memories?

Brian: That would be school football, which was at Ashmore in Southgate. All I wanted to do was to kick a ball. In the end I got picked for the district, Barnet, which then went on to the county which was Hertfordshire. When I was nearly coming up to 15 there were some scouts that came down to look at some players, and they were from Man United, Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal. There was one bloke called Dickie Walker who really stood out, and he was chief scout for Tottenham. He came round to my house, and so then I didn’t want to go anywhere but Spurs, and that was all that I wanted. I just started going training a couple of evenings a week down there to start off with, and then when it was my 15th birthday Spurs wanted to sign me as an apprentice, which was a dream for me. There was another player who played for my district and county, and he was called Alan Oliver. He was an excellent player, and they (Spurs) were going to sign him as an apprentice on the Monday like me, but he had a school cup match on the Saturday, and he broke his leg. That did his career in.

What are your earliest memories of your time at Spurs?

Brian: John Collins, Stuart Skeet and Johnny Pratt were my friends at Spurs when I first went there. We used to do chores, like cleaning the boots, but the biggest memory was going to the gym. Johnny Wallis was a lovely guy and he was like a dad to me, and he used to send me and John Collins down the gym to sweep it out, but we always had a ball there and would play one touch football for hours, and I think that he knew that. They were absolutely lovely times.

Did you have any footballing heroes/inspirations and if so who were they?

Brian: The one for me had to be George Best, as he was my hero. When I was 17 they used to do Five-a-side football at Wembley, and there were eight of us who got picked and I was one of them. We got through to the quarter-finals, and then we played West Ham and I got picked to play as one of the five. Out came Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst, and I just couldn’t believe it. So anyway we played and we won 1-0, and then we got through to the semi-finals and we played Man United! And George Best came out! In those days in Five-a-side you weren’t allowed any physical contact. I came out and was on for I think two minutes, and that guy did some things with the ball that I’ve never seen in my life, and I just stood there staring until they took me off. That’s one thing that I’ll never forget.

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Brian: During the early years there was a little inside-forward called Tommy Harmer, and he was like a magician. He was very, very small like I was, and he was the guy who I wanted to be like. So he was my biggest inspiration. After that came a very, very good friend of mine called John White, and he was such a skilful player. So people like that were my influences at Spurs. But also you had Alan Mullery, who was the loveliest man who I’ve ever met in my life. He would come back in the afternoons and teach us and tell us things one by one and in his own time.

Could you describe to me what type of player you were and what positions you played in during your time at Spurs?

Brian: I was a greedy player, who loved to beat players and put the ball through their legs, so you could say that I was flash, I suppose. During my time in the reserves I played against Portsmouth at White Hart Lane, and Bill Nicholson and Eddie Baily were watching as the first team weren’t playing. They told me that I was beating the full-back and instead of crossing the ball I was turning round and beating them again. So what they did was they put blinkers on me in front of a 6,000 crowd, and so I went out and played the second half in a pair of blinkers. And that’s a true story! But that was to try and teach me a lesson.

Were there any players at Spurs who you would watch closely to try and improve your game or look to learn from?

Brian: In the early days it was the winger Cliff Jones, who was absolutely amazing. Then as I progressed and got into the combination side it was Derek Possee. The guy was so small and he had so much speed. His timing when he jumped was absolutely amazing, and so I tried to model myself on him a little bit to try and get my timing write. Another magician who I looked up to and got on well with was Keith Weller, and he was a very skilful player. So I looked up to people like that, but I was sort of my own enemy because I wanted the ball all of the time and wouldn’t pass it. That was my biggest fault.

What was your time at the Lilywhites like on the whole?

Brian: It was absolutely fantastic and the people were fantastic, and if I could do it all over again then I would definitely do the same thing. The people such as Bill Nicholson, Eddie Baily and Johnny Wallis were absolutely amazing, and they helped people so much that it was unbelievable. But if you’re not meant to play for the first team then you’re not meant to. And injuries got in the way in the end, even though I was on the verge of playing for the first team. 

What prompted you to leave Spurs and could you talk me through your career after you left the Lilywhites?

Brian: Well I was put on a free transfer after getting injured in a game against Leicester. I went into a tackle and it was a fair one, but afterwards I looked down and my foot was facing the other way, and to the point where it was pointing backwards. I’d done all of the ligaments and cartilage in my leg and so I was out for about four months, and then I started playing and training again, but every time I played my knee would come up like a balloon. So after every match that I played I couldn’t walk or anything for three or four days, so I had that to contend with that. And in the end Bill Nicholson said that he didn’t know if my future was in professional football, and that was how it really ended. But because I loved the game so much I went to Kings Lynn up in Norfolk for about a year, although I didn’t used to train as I just used to play on the Saturday. Then when I left there I came back to Barnet and got a phone call from Stevenage asking me if I’d be interested in joining them on trial for a while. After two weeks they signed me and I was there for four years. After the second year my mate Steve Pitt came along. But playing football was very hard, because every time that I played my knee would come up like a balloon.

What has been the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Brian: It would have to be the Five-a-side one with George Best. The other one was when the first team played at White Hart Lane and the reserves didn’t have a game, so we were on the line watching. In that game Pat Jennings came out to punch a ball and on the edge of the box George Best got it and he just stood there and lobbed it, and the only place that he could put it, he put it there. And even Pat Jennings stood there and clapped him (he got told off for it). I just thought that George Best was unbelievable.

Who has been the greatest player that you have had the pleasure of sharing a pitch with? 

Brian: I think that skill wise and for dedication it would definitely be Keith Weller, and even though he played for England a few times, he should have gone further than he did. He was absolutely amazing and whereever he looked, that was where the ball would go. He was sort of like Bobby Moore, when he used to pass the ball. 

Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories or ones which stand out from your time in the various Tottenham youth teams?

Brian: I remember when we went to Holland over on the boat, but anyway we won the tournament and Bill Nicholson flew out, and we also had flowers and watches given to us. Keith Weller, Tony Want, Roy Brown John Collins, Steve Pitt and me were all there. I think that that was the best time that I ever had at Spurs.

Who was the toughest player that you ever came up against?

Brian: When I signed apprentice they would let you train with the first team for two or three weeks. When I went into the gym and we played five or six a-side I got hit right against the wall all of a sudden by Dave Mackay! Then two minutes later I went into another tackle with him and he got me by the scruff of the neck and said “ right, you did not pull away from me and you wasn’t frightened of me. Well done! ” He was the hardest man that I’ve ever seen in my life. 

Were there any players at Spurs who you were particularly close to?

Brian: As I say it was John Collins, Stuart Skeet, Jimmy Pearce, Steve Pitt and Jimmy Walker, as well as Tony Want. John Collins came to my wedding and I went to his as well, and so we were friends as well as colleagues.

What would your advice be to the young Spurs players of today as they look to break into the first team?

Brian: I wanted to be an individual like George Best, but there are no characters nowadays. So I would say to try and be your own person. 

After all these years how do you look back on your time at the Lilywhites and is Spurs a club who you still hold close to your heart?

Brian: I’m just grateful for the way that I was treated and the way that Spurs looked after me. I was a very, very greedy footballer and they (Spurs) tried everything in their power to get that out of me, and I wished that they had have done, as I think that I could have gone further. The club were absolutely amazing. 

My preview of Spurs’ Under 23’s 2021/22 season:

Spurs’ Under 23 side play their first pre-season friendly on the 17th of July against non-League side Ramsgate F.C. This is followed by friendlies against Enfield Town, Hastings United, Crawley Town and finally Barnet on the seventh of August. The new Premier League 2 season for the category one Academy sides should start in August, usually around the weekend that the Premier League season starts, but that is yet to be confirmed. Last season Wayne Burnett’s Spurs side had a very good season in the PL2 Division One, finishing third (their best ever finish at Under 23 level) in the league. Recording some memorable results over the course of the season, the quality of their performances (of the games that I did see) was really impressive. This season Spurs’ Under 23 side will play two new teams in Leeds United and Crystal Palace, who won promotion from the Second Division last season. Leeds United are one of my teams to watch this season, as the team who won their league comfortably last season and who play a number of first team players, are incredibly difficult to play against. With their pressing football proving too much for many teams in last seasons Premier League 2. Other teams to watch out for this season are the current champions Manchester City, who were unplayable at times last season, and they were by the far the best team that Spurs came up against in their division. Chelsea were also impressive last season and they did the double over us in 2020/21, as did Derby County, who are always a difficult team to face at Academy level. 

Along with competing in the Premier League 2 this season, Spurs’ Under 23 side will also compete in this seasons Papa John’s Trophy, against League One and Two sides. In our group this season are Cambridge United, Oxford United and Stevenage Borough. Any further domestic competitions that Spurs will be competing in, if at all, have not been announced yet. 31 players (not including Oliver Skipp. And not including players who could be with the first team squad) are so far part of the Under 23 squad as such, and that does not include players from the Under 18 side, who could be already training with the Under 23’s. That is a lot of players, but I would imagine that a fair few will go out on loan before the season starts. Players such as TJ Eyoma, Tobi Omole, Harvey White, Troy Parrott and possibly others like Jamie Bowden, Brooklyn Lyons-Foster and Kion Etete are players that I personally think might go out on loan this season. Depending on how many players do go out on loan I would personally imagine that second year scholars Dane Scarlett and Alfie Devine will get a lot of game time for the Under 23’s this season, even more than they did during the season just gone. Perhaps even first year scholar Jamie Donley might get the odd game for the Under 23 side, as he already made a good number of appearances for the Under 18’s last season. Another player that I reckon could potentially step up to play for the Under 23’s this season and possibly even in pre-season, is creative and skilful winger and second year scholar Roshaun Mathurin (17).

From the Under 23 side itself, a player such as Rafferty Pedder (19), is somebody who could really have a breakthrough season with the Under 23’s in my opinion, and make a lot of appearances. Capable of playing in central-midfield, as a CAM or out wide, the Maidstone born player made two starts last season for the Under 23 side, and he is someone who can really dictate the tempo of matches from the middle of the pitch. He also loves to get on the ball and drive forward with it at pace. Skilful and goalscoring midfielder Max Robson missed a fair few matches for the Under 18 side last season but he did make his Under 23 debut in 2020/21. And he is somebody who I definitely feel could flourish this season. As could forward thinking right-back Dermi Lusala and versatile player Kallum Cesay,(both first year pros). There are also many other players who I’m looking forward to seeing this season for the Under 23’s. I’ve got a good feeling about this season and while results are not everything at this level, I do believe that this very talented group of players could really challenge the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Leeds United for the league title. An interesting season awaits and while I’m unsure if I’ll be able to get to all of the competitive matches again next season to report on the matches, I do plan on reporting on all five of the Under 23’s pre-season matches. I already have my ticket for the Ramsgate game on the 17th of July, and I’m really looking forward to that game. I would like to wish the Spurs Under 23 side all the very best of luck for the 2021/22 season.

Spurs’ Under 23 squad for the 2021/22 season (as it stands): 

Goalkeepers: Josh Oluwayemi, Kacper Kurylowicz, Thimothee Lo-Tutala, Isak Solberg. 

Full-backs: Dennis Cirkin, Marcel Lavinier, Dermi Lusala, Jeremy Kyezu, Kallum Cesay. 

Central-defenders: Tobi Omole, Jubril Okedina, Malachi Fagan-Walcott, Brooklyn Lyons-Foster, TJ Eyoma, Maksim Paskotši, Marqes Muir.

Midfielders: Harvey White, Jamie Bowden, Rafferty Pedder, Elliot Thorpe, Nile John, Matthew Craig, Michael Craig, Max Robson, Yago Santiago.

Wingers: J’Neil Bennett, Dilan Markanday, Jeremie Mukendi, Romaine Mundle.

Forwards: Kion Etete, Troy Parrott.

Under 23 players currently out on loan: Brandon Austin (on loan at Orlando City SC).

Six Spurs Academy players that I’m hoping to see feature for the first team during this pre-season:

With the first pre-season match for the Spurs first team (against Leyton Orient) just 12 days away, I thought that I would write a little piece on six Spurs Academy players that I’m personally hoping will feature for Spurs’ first team in pre-season. Nuno Espíritio Santo’s side are so far scheduled to play four pre-season friendlies, starting with a friendly game with Leyton Orient to compete for the JE3 Foundation Trophy on the 17th of July. We later face MK Dons in a friendly, before taking on Chelsea and Arsenal in The Mind Series, in August. So that’s four pre-season matches which could well mean a good number of opportunities for Spurs Academy players and Academy graduates to feature in. Below are just six players that I am personally hoping might feature in those friendly games, but obviously there are a good number of other players who I do believe will most probably play for the first team in pre-season, and that I would also like to see play. Such as Dane Scarlett, Alfie Whiteman, Nile John, Dennis Cirkin and Alfie Devine. However, the six players that I have listed are just some of the players that I personally would really like to see (some are yet to play for the first team) play for Spurs’ first team, but of course I would be delighted to see other Spurs Academy players and graduates also play for Spurs in those four friendly matches.

The players:

Jubril Okedina: Versatile 20 year old defender Jubril Okedina enjoyed a fine 2020/21 season. He spent the first half of the season with our Under 23 side, where he captained the side on eight occasions. Okedina spent the second half of the season out on loan with a very successful Cambridge United side, and he impressed for them during his 15 competitive appearances, and most of his appearances came at RCB. A good reader of the game who is also good in the air and in the challenge, the Londoner is more than capable of playing as a right-back and also as a centre-half. Jubril missed most of his first season full-time at Spurs’ Academy because of injury (he made only two appearances in 2017/18), but he would end up becoming an important player for the Spurs Under 18 side during the following 2018/19 season. A defender who has good pace and who is good at getting up and down the right flank when playing at right-back, Okedina is good on the ball and at bringing it out from the back. However, he also has good passing ability, and he showed on loan at Cambridge United that he wasn’t afraid to make long and ambitious forward passes from deep. A player who has got and better and better in my opinion over the last couple of seasons, Okedina actually made the bench for Spurs’ senior team under former manager José Mourinho, in a pre-season friendly against Watford last year. I’m a big fan of Okedina’s style of play and the way in how he defends in games, and also how cool and composed he is under pressure, and I certainly think that he would do well if given a chance with the first team this pre-season.

TJ Eyoma: After making a very impressive total of 52 competitive appearances with League One side Lincoln City last season, defender TJ Eyoma will have gained a lot of valuable experience from playing regular first team football. The London born player is an assertive centre-half who can also play as a right-back, and Eyoma showed this throughout the 2020/21 season. He has made well over 50 competitive appearances for Spurs’ Under 23 side since making debut for them during the 2016/17 season, and the 21 year old has already made his competitive first team debut for the club (in 2018/19). TJ also got a good amount of game time during the 2018/19 pre-season and he particularly impressed in a friendly against AC Milan. Very good on the ball and with his distribution, Eyoma brings the ball out from the back really well, but he also defends well inside the penalty area and is dominant in the air. However, he doesn’t make sliding challenges as much as other defenders, as he seems to prefer to make standing challenges. He is also impressive at right-back and has shown over the years that he isn’t afraid to get forward to join the forward players, while showing good skill on the ball. Eyoma is also very good at making important blocks. I would personally really like to see TJ get a good amount of minutes in pre-season, especially as he has just returned from a successful loan at Lincoln City. I am confident that he would certainly do well at Championship level next season on loan, but it would be great to see TJ play for Spurs again during pre-season.

Brooklyn Lyons-Foster: Elegant and very versatile defender Brooklyn Lyons-Foster can play as a right-back, RCB, LCB, left-back, as a four and as an eight in midfield. The 20 year old from north London has been a regular for the Spurs Under 23 side over the last couple of seasons, and he even made his debut for them as a 16 year old back in 2017. A tall defender who has great technical ability, Lyons-Foster was outstanding during his first year of scholarship at Spurs in 2017/18, and he has progressed well since then. A former England Under 17 international who played for his country alongside the likes of Jadon Sancho, Phil Foden and Callum Hudson-Odoi, Brooklyn is a real footballing centre-half. He is quick, very good on the ball, has fine distribution, takes responsibility in situations, and from what I’ve seen he is a good leader. Lyons-Foster is also very capable of reading the game to great effect, and also at making last ditch blocks and challenges. Personally speaking I reckon that he is physically ready to play men’s football on a regular basis, and what will help as well is the fact that he can play in so many different positions. A decisive defender who likes to join the attack in situations, the former Watford schoolboy player has impressed me whenever he has played as a number four in recent years, with his assertiveness in that role and passing ability making him standout when playing that role. Last season he made 21 competitive appearances for Spurs’ Under 23 side and was also directly involved in four goals (two goals and two assists). Lyons-Foster was actually a part of Mauricio Pochettino’s 2019/20  pre-season squad that traveled to Asia, although he didn’t get any minutes.

I would really like to see Brooklyn get some game time in pre-season to really show fans what he’s about, and what type of defender he is.

Oliver Skipp: Having already made 23 competitive first team appearances for Spurs, midfielder Oliver Skipp certainly won’t be a new name to Spurs fans. The Welwyn Garden City born player was excellent at 2020/21 Championship champions Norwich City last season, featuring in all but one Championship game for them. Skipp is a tigerish defensive midfield player, but apart from his defensive duties which he does so well, he can also offer a lot going forward. The 20 year old who turns 21 in September made a really good impression on the Norwich side last season, and the player who constantly would play above his age group for Spurs at Academy level has a tremendous footballing brain. Skipp, as many fans will know is great at breaking up play in the central areas of the pitch, and also at keeping things moving. However, Oliver is also very good at receiving the ball in the middle of the pitch and then driving forward with the ball at pace. A tireless but skilful midfielder, Skipp has incredible stamina, but he is also a very mature player, who likes to lead on the pitch. He is constantly pointing things out on the pitch and giving advice to his teammates. Without doubt one of the best players that I have ever seen play at Academy level in England, now could well be the time when Skipp takes that next step up and starts to get regular football for Spurs. This could also allow Pierre-Emile Højbjerg to get rest next season, as I believe that Skipp would do a fine job in Premier League games, as he has already shown on occasions. However, for this pre-season and in particular the friendly games against Chelsea and Arsenal, it would be great to see Skipp get good minutes in both games.

Elliot Thorpe: Creative midfielder Elliot Thorpe (20) can play either as a four, an eight or as a CAM. A tenacious midfield player, who didn’t play an awful lot of competitive football at Under 18 level for Spurs, after a fine season with Spurs’ Under 23 side in 2020/21 Thorpe earned his first call up to the Wales Under 21 side, at the end of that season. Scoring two goals last season from 18 competitive appearances (both goals game in a 4-1 home win over Liverpool) the Hinchingbrooke born player has looked really good whenever I have seen him over the course of the last two seasons. Constantly looking to receive the ball into his feet, the technical midfielder likes to accelerate forward with the ball into promising forward positions. He has a good weight of pass, makes good forward runs off the ball and can also produce moments of magic in the final third, but he is also a very hardworking player who likes to get stuck in and make challenges. Formerly of Cambridge United, Thorpe is definitely a player that I would really like to see play for the first team in pre-season, and he has yet to play for the first team. I think that Thorpe wouldn’t look out of place playing for Spurs’ first team in pre-season, as he is a very technical player. I would be intrigued to see him get the chance to play for them as he is a player who I rate very highly.

Troy Parrott: Republic of Ireland international Troy Parrott (19) had some difficult times out on loan last season. But there is no doubting the centre-forwards’ obvious talent, and he showed this in an end of season friendly against Andorra for the Republic of Ireland, when he changed the game by scoring two well taken goals. Parrott was out on loan at Millwall last season, where after a promising pre-season injuries disrupted his progress at the Championship side. He later went out on loan to League One side Ipswich Town, where he spent the second half of the season. He scored two goals from 18 competitive appearances for Ipswich, and he impressed with his fine runs off the ball and desire and hunger to try and impact games. Parrott was a very prolific centre-forward for Spurs at Academy level, and the player who has already made four competitive appearances for Spurs’ first team did impress in the 2019/20 pre-season. With Spurs playing in the Europa Conference League this season, a good pre-season for the talented and clinical striker could well mean that he gets plenty of game time in the cup competitions for the Spurs first team, unless he goes out on loan again. He has excellent movement off the ball and is a really good finisher, who also works incredibly hard to press opposition defenders.

Some notes on Spurs loanee Brandon Austin’s performance against New York Red Bulls: 

Brandon Austin made his fourth consecutive MLS appearance for Orlando City SC on Sunday, as Orlando took on New York Red Bulls at the Exploria Stadium. Orlando lost the game 2-1. In the sixth minute of the match New York Red Bulls took the lead, after Cristian Cásseres Jr. came inside onto his left foot on the edge of the Orlando penalty area. He then curled the ball (Austin saw it late) into the top left hand corner of Brandon Austin’s goal, leaving the 22 year old with no chance of saving it. Austin comfortably gathered Fábio’s deflected, looping effort on goal, before saving Wikelman Carmona’s effort from distance, late in the first half. In the second half Austin gathered an early cross from Kyle Duncan, before then gathering another ball into the Orlando box, not long afterwards. The Orlando goalkeeper did well to hold a powerful cross from Cásseres Jr. at his near post. However, once again Austin could do nothing to prevent New York Red Bulls’ second goal of the game. After receiving the ball inside the Orlando penalty area Fábio managed to shrug off an Orlando defender, before then powerfully curling the ball inside the bottom left corner of Austin’s goal. In the final moments of the game Brandon came out of his penalty area to clear the ball away from Tom Barlow.