Spurs Under 23’s 1-2 Arsenal: (match report)

Spurs’ Under 23 side faced Arsenal at Meadow Park, on Friday evening, in a Premier League 2 fixture. Wayne Burnett’s Spurs side lost the match 2-1, but it was a game in which they deserved to get something from, such was the quality of their response to going 2-0 down. However, the sending off of Matthew Craig during the second half, made it that bit too difficult for Spurs to get something out of the game. Joshua Oluwayemi started in goal for Spurs, while Dermi Lusala, Marqes Muir, Tobi Omole and Marcel Lavinier started in defence. Matthew Craig and Harvey White teamed up in central-midfield, while J’Neil Bennett and Romaine Mundle started out on the flanks, and Alfie Devine started in the CAM role. Dane Scarlett led the line for Spurs. It was Spurs who got the match underway. Joshua Oluwayemi saved Omari Giraud-Hutchinson’s early effort. A couple of minutes later and after some good skill from Romaine Mundle, Harvey White had an effort blocked inside the Arsenal box. Marcel Lavinier then had an effort blocked inside the Arsenal penalty area, before Arsenal took the lead.

After Marqes Muir dribbled the ball out from defence, he was met by an Arsenal player who managed to win the ball from him. Mika Bierith had the ball played into his feet, and was through on goal inside the Spurs box, with only the goalkeeper to beat. However, after being met by the outrushing Oluwayemi (the Spurs goalkeeper seemed to catch the Denmark youth international), Bierith passed the ball to Marcelo Flores, who tapped the ball into the empty net, 0-1. Arsenal doubled their lead less than seven minutes later. J’Neil Bennett’s pass back to Oluwayemi was latched onto by Giraud-Hutchinson, who passed the ball to Flores, down the left side of the Spurs box. Flores crossed the ball into the centre of the box, but unfortunately Tobi Omole, who was attempting to slide in to clear the ball, ended up putting the ball past Oluwayemi and into the back of the goal, 0-2. Spurs responded well though, and after Alfie Devine picked the ball up just inside his own half, the midfielder went on a surging forward run, all the way into the Arsenal box, before showing good composure and finishing low and into the bottom right hand corner of the goal, 1-2.

Soon after the game got started again, a well taken corner-kick by Harvey White came to J’Neil Bennett inside the Spurs box, but his back-heeled effort came to Dane Scarlett, who then also had an effort blocked. After receiving the ball on the edge of the Arsenal box, Devine ran into the Arsenal box before striking the base of the right hand post, as he came very close to getting Spurs level. Marqes Muir defended well to stop Bierith getting forward down the right flank, and then a matter of minutes later Muir headed an effort just wide from a Harvey White free-kick. After holding on well to the ball inside the Arsenal box, Dane Scarlett was able to get the ball to Bennett, but his effort was saved by Arsenal goalkeeper Hubert Graczyk. Matthew Craig was shown a yellow card shortly after, before Oluwayemi did well to gather a cross into the Spurs box from the left from Miguel Azeez, at the second opportunity. Another great forward run from Devine, this time down the right side of the Arsenal penalty area, didn’t come to much on this occasion, because of some good defending from the home side. 

Dane Scarlett received a pass from Devine inside the Arsenal box, just before half-time. However, Scarlett’s deflected effort was tipped behind by Graczyk, before Devine glanced a headed effort just wide from the resulting Harvey White corner-kick, just before the referee sounded his whistle for half-time. Spurs made two changes for the second half, as Yago Santiago replaced Marqes Muir, and Kallum Cesay replaced Dermi Lusala, as Matthew Craig went to central-defence. Arsenal got the game back underway, and early on in the half Marcelo Flores came close to latching onto a cross from the right, at the back post of the Spurs box. After receiving Devine’s pass out on the right flank, J’Neil Bennett hit an effort across the Arsenal goal. Then a couple of moments later Romaine Mundle did really well to work his way into the Arsenal box, before hitting the crossbar with a powerful effort. Dane Scarlett headed wide Harvey White’s free-kick from the right flank. Mundle hit an effort over inside the Arsenal box, and then moments later Harvey White had a good effort from the edge of the penalty area saved by Graczyk.

Oluwayemi did well to save with his feet from James Olayinka’s low effort inside the Spurs box, as the game continued to be played at a great pace. Oluwayemi then saved Giraud-Hutchinson’s effort from inside his penalty area. After receiving Devine’s pass on the edge of the Arsenal box, Harvey White saw his powerful effort on goal tipped behind by Hubert Graczyk. From the resulting Harvey White corner- kick, Tobi Omole’s headed effort on goal was tipped over well by Graczyk. Olayinka’s through-ball pass to Marcelo Flores saw the Arsenal player through on goal, and inside the Spurs box. However, the outrushing Oluwayemi managed to put Flores off, and his effort went over the goal. Bennett then had an effort blocked, before Mundle cut inside onto his right foot inside the Arsenal box, before curling an effort wide of the goal. A great forward run from Giraud-Hutchinson, resulted in the Arsenal winger passing the ball to Marcelo Flores inside the Spurs box, but his effort was saved by Oluwayemi.

Dane Scarlett headed Marcel Lavinier’s cross wide. Then a couple of minutes later a back pass from Arsenal defender Mazeed Ogungbo was latched onto inside the Arsenal box by Scarlett, but his powerful effort on goal was excellently cleared off the line by Alex Kirk. After Matthew Craig fouled Mika Bierith, who was through on goal, the Spurs midfielder was sent off, after being shown his second yellow card of the game. Flores had a low effort from the edge of the Spurs box saved by Oluwayemi. Miguel Azeez had an effort saved by Joshua Oluwayemi, who then almost gave the ball straight to Bierith, but was able to recover the ball well and just in time. Max Robson then replaced J’Neil Bennett late on in the game. Oluwayemi saved yet another effort on goal, before Mika Bierith hit an effort wide on the turn, inside the Spurs box. The referee sounded his whistle for full-time a couple of minutes later. Spurs’ next Premier League 2 game is away to Liverpool, next weekend.

Player reviews:

  • Joshua Oluwayemi: I thought that the Spurs goalkeeper had a really strong game, making a really good number of good saves, to keep Spurs in the match.
  • Dermi Lusala: The right-back completed the first half of the game, before being substituted at half-time.
  • Marqes Muir: Starting the match on the right side of central-defence, the first year professional was clearly disappointed at having the ball taken off of him by an Arsenal player, which led to the home side taking the lead. However, Muir did have some good moments in defence, before being substituted at half-time.
  • Tobi Omole: The former Arsenal Academy player distributed the ball out well from the back, and also made some important defensive interventions. He recovered well after scoring an unfortunate first half own goal.
  • Marcel Lavinier: I thought that at left-back, Marcel Lavinier had a strong game and did well for the team. The 21 year old went on some good forward runs with the ball. 
  • Matthew Craig: The midfielder started the game just behind Harvey White, in central-midfield. Very busy in midfield during the first half, Craig started the second half on the right side of central-defence, but was dismissed on 73 minutes, after being shown a second yellow card.
  • Harvey White: The Spurs captain put in an assertive performance in midfield, was creative with the ball and won a number of challenges in midfield. The 20 year old had a good game on his return to the Under 23 side, and the quality of his set-pieces were as always very good.
  • J’Neil Bennett: Starting out on the right flank, J’Neil Bennett only swapped flanks with Romaine Mundle once during his time on the pitch. Bennett tried his luck on goal a number of times, and tracked back well to help the defence.
  • Alfie Devine: My man of the match, see below.
  • Romaine Mundle: This was a very good performance from Romaine Mundle out on the left flank. The 18 year old winger went on some excellent skilful and unpredictable runs with the ball during the game, and came very close to scoring a goal on one occasion during the second half.
  • Dane Scarlett: The centre-forward moved well off the ball, and held the ball up well. Scarlett came very close to getting Spurs level during the second half, when he had an effort cleared off the line.
  • Yago Santiago: The midfielder came on at half-time, and he started the second half just behind centre-forward Dane Scarlett. Santiago sometimes went out to the left flank to receive the ball.
  • Kallum Cesay: The right-back replaced Dermi Lusala at half-time, at right-back. Cesay had to defend against the talented Marcelo Flores down his side of the pitch.
  • Max Robson: The midfielder came on to replace J’Neil Bennett late on in the game, and he worked well off the ball during his short time on the pitch.

My man of the match: Alfie Devine. This was a tireless performance from the midfielder and second year scholar, as he played a big part in helping Spurs get back into the game, after going 2-0 down inside the opening 24 minutes. Starting the game behind centre-forward Dane Scarlett, Devine was constantly being inventive with the ball, making some really clever runs off it and scoring a really good goal during the first half, after going on a long run with the ball. Devine went on a number of impressive surging runs with the ball during the first half. He knew when to make those runs, but also when to drop deep off the ball to make space for himself to receive the ball. He could have scored a hat-trick against Arsenal on another day, but this was a very good performance from Alfie, who worked really well for the team throughout the match, even when Spurs were reduced to ten men and he had to do a slightly different role on the pitch.

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