Spurs Under 23’s 3-3 Blackburn Rovers: (match report)

Spurs’ Under 23 side traveled up to County Lancashire to face Blackburn Rovers at the LFA County Ground, in the Premier League 2 on Friday night. Wayne Burnett’s side had gone 2-0 up during a fascinating first half, which ended up being 3-2 to Spurs. The game however, ended up finishing 3-3, after Harvey White had a late penalty kick saved. Joshua Oluwayemi started in goal for Spurs, while a back four consisting of Matthew Craig, Malachi Fagan-Walcott, Tobi Omole and Kallum Cesay lined up in front of him. Captain Brooklyn Lyons-Foster and Harvey White started in central midfield, and Jack Clarke and Alfie Devine started out on the flanks, either side of CAM Nile John. Dilan Markanday returned to lead the line for Spurs. It was Wayne Burnett’s side who got the game started, and it was Spurs who created the first real chance of the game. After John went on a surging forward run with the ball, the midfielder passed it to Devine, down the left hand side of the Blackburn penalty area. However, Devine ended up hitting the ball over the goal from a promising position. Malachi Fagan-Walcott blocked behind Connor McBride’s effort from inside the Spurs box, before at the opposite end of the pitch Nile John hit a low effort wide from distance. A good run into the Spurs box by left-back Lenni Cirino ended in him hitting a low effort wide of Oluwayemi’s near post. Devine then had an effort blocked by a Blackburn defender, before Spurs took the lead in the 14th minute of the game.

Dilan Markanday brought the ball into the Blackburn penalty area down the right hand side. He was then tackled by a defender, and the ball ended up coming to John, who went past an opposition player well before powerfully finding the bottom left hand corner of the goal, 1-0. Jared Harlock volleyed over Luke Brennan’s cross from inside the Spurs box as the home side looked to respond. Markanday was then shown a rather harsh yellow card (in my opinion) for being deemed to have fouled Sam Durrant, and stopping a promising move. After picking the ball up out on the right flank Jack Clarke looked up before crossing the ball into the Blackburn box, where he managed to pick out Harvey White in a central area. The Spurs midfielder connected well with the ball, and his looping headed effort ended up beating goalkeeper Antonis Stergiakis, and going into the bottom left hand corner of his goal, 2-0. Shortly after the game got started again and after Harvey White received Tobi Omole’s pass, he tried his luck with a powerful effort from distance, which was well saved by Stergiakis. A couple of minutes later the ball was given to Harvey White inside the Blackburn box, but he curled his effort over the goal. After a Spurs player gave away the ball in a good position for the home side, Lyons-Foster was forced to make a sliding challenge to try and win the ball off of McBride. However, the referee thought that he didn’t get the ball and booked him and awarded a free kick against Spurs, much to the Spurs midfielders’ disbelief.

34 year old Blackburn Rovers captain Bradley Johnson stepped up to hit a powerful low effort beyond Oluwayemi and into the bottom right hand corner of the Spurs goal, 2-1. Clarke was shown a yellow card for a foul on Lenni Cirino, before a free-kick for the home side ended up coming into the Spurs box, but Oluwayemi was able to stop McBride’s effort on goal. Then after Oluwayemi came but missed the ball when trying to gather from a corner kick, the ball eventually came to George Pratt, who was fouled by Malachi Fagan-Walcott, who claimed that he had got the ball. However, the referee ended up pointing to the spot and Fagan-Walcott and also Devine were shown yellow cards. Connor McBride stepped up to tuck the ball into the bottom right hand corner of the goal, 2-2. Spurs responded well though, and after John won a free-kick right on the edge of the Blackburn penalty area, Harvey White curled the ball right onto the crossbar. Alfie Devine nodded wide Jack Clarke’s free-kick, before Oluwayemi gathered Luke Brennan’s cross at the opposite end of the pitch. However, in the fifth minute of first half added time a Harvey White corner kick was headed on by Devine to Tobi Omole inside the Blackburn penalty area, and he managed to put the ball past Stergiakis and into the back of the net. It was to be the final piece of action from the first half.

The home side got the second half underway. Oluwayemi did well to stop Sam Burns from scoring inside the Spurs box, before Brennan hit the ball over down the left side of the Spurs box. Harvey White had an effort blocked and then Jared Harlock had an effort from distance saved by Oluwayemi. Lyons-Foster importantly put behind Luke Brennan’s promising cross into the Spurs box, before Oluwayemi then saved Cirino’s effort on goal. Sam Burns then ended up running all the way into the Spurs box before hitting his effort wide of the goal. Markanday then hit an effort wide from the edge of the Blackburn box, at the other end of the pitch. Blackburn managed to get the equaliser on 67 minutes, but they were quite fortunate. Substitute Adam Wharton’s effort on goal was saved by Oluwayemi, but the ball ended up bouncing off of Omole and into the back of the Spurs goal, 3-3. John showed some nice skill before powerfully hitting the ball across the face of the Blackburn goal, but he was then booked moments later after the referee thought that he had gone down to easily inside the Blackburn box from a challenge. Yago Santiago came on to replace Jack Clarke. A Blackburn player ended up giving the ball to Markanday on the edge of the Blackburn box, but his curling effort was well saved by Stergiakis. Rafferty Pedder replaced Nile John, and then Fagan-Walcott did well to clear Luke Brennan’s cross into the Spurs box.

The newly introduced Yago Santiago did really well to work his way into the Blackburn box, before crossing the ball for Markanday, whose first time effort was stopped from going in by the hand of Lenni Cirino, who was subsequently sent off, and a penalty kick was awarded for Spurs. Harvey White stepped up, but his effort to the goalkeepers right was well saved by Stergiakis. Devine then headed Harvey White’s following corner kick into the side netting, before Blackburn had two very late chances to win the game. First of all Sam Burns hit an effort against Oluwayemi’s near post, before another player from the home side hit an effort just wide from the edge of the Spurs box, in what was the final piece of action from the game. Spurs’ next game at this level is against senior opposition in Cambridge United on Tuesday night, in the Papa Johns’ Trophy.

Player reviews:

  • Joshua Oluwayemi: The Spurs goalkeeper made some important saves on the night, and overall I thought that he did well.
  • Matthew Craig: The right-back often stayed deep down the right flank to defend against Blackburn winger Luke Brennan. 
  • Malachi Fagan-Walcott: The right sided centre-half made some good blocks and clearances.
  • Tobi Omole: Omole scored our third goal of the game, but defensively both him and Malachi Fagan-Walcott helped to keep centre-forward Connor McBride generally quite quiet.
  • Kallum Cesay: Like Matthew Craig on the opposite flank, Kallum Cesay often stayed deep during the game.
  • Brooklyn Lyons-Foster: Starting the match as a four in central midfield, Spurs’ captain Brooklyn Lyons-Foster demonstrated good leadership skills. Often seen pointing things out to his teammates, Lyons-Foster’s  defensive performance allowed Harvey White to get forward a lot more. However, Lyons-Foster did make some important defensive interventions during the match.
  • Harvey White: My man of the match, see below.
  • Jack Clarke: Very direct and good at tracking back, winger Jack Clarke set-up Harvey White for his goal with a fine cross into the Blackburn penalty area. Clarke showed good pace, and was always looking to take defenders on down the right flank.
  • Nile John: One of our best players on Friday, CAM Nile John took his early goal really well, and he really demonstrated his quality on the ball when going on forward runs.
  • Alfie Devine: The Spurs left-winger once again made some good runs off the ball, but he was especially potent from corner-kicks. Devine got the assist for Tobi Omole’s goal, and on another day he could have scored a couple of goals from corners.
  • Dilan Markanday: Like Alfie Devine out on the left flank, centre-forward Dilan Markanday moved well off the ball. He helped to create our opening goal of the game and also had what would have been the winner denied, because of a handball from Lenni Cirino.
  • Yago Santiago: The second half substitute went on one really clever run into the Blackburn box late on in the game to set-up Dilan Markanday for his late chance.
  • Rafferty Pedder: The late substitute came on to play in the CAM role in the final minutes of the game.

My man of the match: Harvey White. On another day the Spurs midfielder could have scored five goals. The Maidstone born player passed the ball about well, was willing to make good forward runs off the ball, took his headed goal well and also came very close to scoring (including the late penalty miss) on quite a few other occasions. However, this was another strong performance from Harvey.

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