Spurs Under 18’s versus Leeds United: (match preview)

Spurs’ Under 18 side will play their first group game of this seasons Premier League Cup on Saturday afternoon (the game starts at 14:00pm), when they face Leeds United at their Thorp Arch Training Centre. Spurs are in a difficult group which also contains Fulham and Stoke City. However, hopefully Spurs can start the group off well, by getting a good result against a Leeds United side who have picked up six points from their opening four league games of this season, and they haven’t actually faced Spurs at Under 18 level in a competitive game for a long time. Spurs got their first competitive win of the new season last Saturday, against Reading, and that will give them confidence going into tomorrow’s game. Leeds have a good Under 18’s side, and one of their players to watch out for is Northern Ireland youth international Charlie Allen, who could be a difficult player to play against if involved on Saturday. Unfortunately I wont be able to make Saturday’s game, as I’m at the Under 23 game against Blackburn Rovers the night before. And it’s just too difficult to get from there to where the Leeds match is being played. I would like to wish the team all the very best of luck for the match.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Hayton, Torraj, Dorrington (c), Andiyapan, Linton, Haysman, Kyerematen, Bloxham, Donley, Owen, Williams.

Subs from: Krasniqi, Chaplin, McKnight, Cassanova, Amo. 

Injured/unavailable: Roshaun Mathurin.

Doubtful: N/A.

Previous meeting: N/A.

My score prediction: 2-2.

My one to watch: Northern Ireland Under 19 international Charlie Allen (17). The former Linfield midfielder has made three competitive appearances for Leeds United’s Under 18 side so far this season, and last season he scored three league goals from 15 appearances for them.

Spurs Under 18’s 3-2 Reading: (match report)

Spurs’ Under 18 side played their fourth league match of the new season on Saturday, when they hosted Reading at Hotspur Way. Head coach Stuart Lewis saw his side dramatically score a very late winner to win 3-2 on the day, after having previously been 2-0 up. Spurs started with Adam Hayton in goal, while a back four consisting of Renaldo Torraj, Alfie Dorrington, Archie Chaplin and Jahziah Linton lined up in front of him. Spurs captain Dante Cassanova and Khalon Haysman started in midfield, and Sam Amo and Riley Owen started out on the flanks, either side of CAM Jamie Donley. Jaden Williams led the line for Spurs. Spurs got the game underway and after Riley Owen was able to bring the ball into the Reading box early on in the game, it looked like he was going to give Spurs the lead. However, Reading’s right-back Sam Paul managed to take the ball off of him at the vital moment. After receiving David Nyarko’s pass inside the Spurs box Hamid Abdel-Salam hit an effort over Adam Hayton’s goal. A really powerful effort from distance from Jamie Donley was stopped well by Reading goalkeeper Matthew Rowley, before a clearance from Alfie Dorrington at the other end of the pitch came to Caylan Vickers. However, his effort on goal was saved by Hayton. 

Renaldo Torraj cleared Sam Paul’s cross well inside the Spurs box, and then Cassanova had a free-kick saved by Rowley shortly after. Khalon Haysman hit a powerful effort wide from the edge of the Reading box, but a couple of minutes later Spurs did take the lead. Cassanova had an effort on goal blocked by a Reading defender, with the ball then coming to Renaldo Torraj, who hit a really powerful effort on goal from outside the Reading box, and the ball went past Rowley and into the goal, 1-0. After Donley conceded a free-kick in a promising position for Reading, the visitors looked to make the most of it. Reading captain Benjamin Purcell played the ball short to Caylan Vickers in the Spurs box, but Hayton saved his effort well. Then and after receiving Caylan Vickers’ pass down the right side of the Spurs box, Harry Murphy tried his luck on goal, but his effort across the goal was really well saved by Hayton. After receiving Jamie Donley’s pass, Jaden Williams was through on goal just inside the Reading half. Williams continued forward with the ball before being met by the outrushing Reading goalkeeper, who initially blocked his effort on goal. However, the ball fell kindly for Williams, who went past Rowley this time and was through on goal. He went all the way into the oppositions penalty area, but Reading defender Kelvin Abrefa had sprinted the length of the pitch to take the ball off of him quite spectacularly, just as he was about to tuck the ball home.

Williams nodded wide Owen’s corner kick, before at the other end of the pitch Abraham Kanu headed wide from Caylan Vickers’ corner kick. After receiving Donley’s pass down the left of the Reading box Riley Owen was in a good position to score, but unfortunately his effort went over the Reading goal. Not long before half-time however, Spurs doubled their lead after Donley’s forward ball was latched onto by Jaden Williams, who ran into the Reading box before finishing low past Rowley and into the back of the goal, 2-0. The half-time whistle was sounded by the referee not long afterwards. Reading got the second half underway, but it was Spurs who had the first chance of the half. Linton passed the ball to Haysman, who had a low effort saved by Rowley. A couple of moments later Reading got a goal back. Substitute Aston Greaver passed the ball to David Nyarko down the right hand side of the Spurs box, he then saw his effort on goal saved by Hayton, but the ball then ended up coming to Jordan Addo Antoine, who tapped home, 2-1. The alert Adam Hayton was able to save David Nyarko’s effort inside the Spurs box, before Spurs went forward down the opposite end of the pitch. Riley Owen managed to pick out Sam Amo inside the Reading box, but he then saw his low effort on goal saved by the Reading goalkeeper.

A lofted pass from Haysman was volleyed wide by Donley inside the Reading box, and then at the other end of the pitch Hayton produced a fine save with his left leg to prevent Aston Greaver from scoring inside the Spurs box. Hayton then saved Kelvin Abrefa’s header from a corner kick, and he did well to hold the ball. Once again Hayton had to be alert, this time to stop David Nyarko’s effort from close range. Sam Amo hit an effort over from range as the game started to become even more end to end. Khalon Haysman was replaced by Rio Kyerematen, before the newly introduced substitute had a low effort saved by the Reading goalkeeper from the edge of the Reading box. Kyerematen then received a clever pass from Donley inside the Reading box, but the midfielder saw his effort on goal saved by Rowley. Owen curled an effort over after cutting inside from the left flank, before Thomas Bloxham replaced Sam Amo out on the right flank. Owen had a curled effort saved by Rowley, and then after receiving Kyerematen’s pass down the left of the Reading box Donley had an effort on goal deflected wide, as Spurs pushed for that all important third goal. Bloxham volleyed wide from Donley’s cross, and then Maxwell McKnight came on to replace Riley Owen, before Renaldo Torraj blocked behind David Nyarko’s effort on goal. Jahziah Linton had an effort on goal blocked by Kelvin Abrefa, but then Reading managed to score a late equaliser.

After receiving the ball inside the Spurs box David Nyarko hit a low effort on the Spurs goal, but his effort deflected off of Chaplin and went in past Hayton, 2-2. With little time left to respond Maxwell McKnight whipped a hopeful but fine cross deep into the Reading box, during the final moments of the game. The ball was met by Jamie Donley, whose really good volleyed effort was saved by Rowley. The ball then came to Kyerematen, who cut the ball back to Williams in the centre of the box. His effort was blocked by Kelvin Abrefa, but the ball came up for Williams to head the ball on goal however, his effort was saved by Rowley. Although the Reading goalkeeper could do nothing to stop Donley running in to volley home the winner for Spurs from close range, 3-2. What followed were great celebrations from the Spurs players, as they had managed to secure their first win of the new season. The referee sounded his whistle for full-time shortly afterwards.

Player reviews:

  • Adam Hayton: The goalkeeper had a fantastic game for Spurs on Saturday. Hayton made numerous excellent saves, and he played a really big part in Spurs managing to get all three points.
  • Renaldo Torraj: The scorer of a really well taken goal from distance, right-back Renaldo Torraj joined the forward players well when going forward.
  • Alfie Dorrington: The right sided centre-half for this match, the first year scholar made some important clearances, was good in the air and kept good positioning alongside Archie Chaplin.
  • Archie Chaplin: Making his competitive Spurs Under 18’s debut yesterday, I thought that defender Archie Chaplin put in a strong defensive performance alongside Alfie Dorrington.
  • Jahziah Linton: Like Renaldo Torraj on the opposite flank, left-back Jahziah Linton got forward well whenever he was able to.
  • Dante Cassanova: The Spurs captain covered a lot of ground in the central areas of the pitch, as he played in the number four role alongside Khalon Haysman. 
  • Khalon Haysman: Playing as a number eight alongside Spurs captain Dante Cassanova, Khalon Haysman was once again always looking to make forward passes, and he also tried his luck on goal on a couple of occasions.
  • Sam Amo: Playing out on the right flank, Sam Amo came close to scoring his first goal at this level on his debut, during the second half.
  • Jamie Donley: My man of the match, see below.
  • Riley Owen: Always positive whenever he received the ball, left-winger Riley Owen looked to take defenders on and also be unpredictable as well with the ball.
  • Jaden Williams: The scorer of a well taken goal in the first half, Jaden Williams led the line well, and was lively inside the Reading half. He came very close to scoring the winner during the latter stages of the match, and he seemed to have a very good understanding of the game with CAM Jamie Donley.
  • Rio Kyerematen: Creative and direct in the CAM role, substitute Rio Kyerematen brought the ball forward well, and he showed some nice skill as well.
  • Thomas Bloxham: Showing some nice skill on the ball, Thomas Bloxham was always looking to be creative whenever he did get on the ball.
  • Maxwell McKnight: The defender played a part in Spurs’ winning goal after delivering a good cross into the Reading box from the right flank.

My man of the match: Jamie Donley. The Northern Ireland Under 19 international had an excellent game against Reading on Saturday. The creator of some fine Spurs chances, Donley took responsibility in important situations and his passing on the day was quality. Making some clever runs off the ball, the first year scholar showed great determination against Reading, worked hard off the ball and also got an all important goal (the winner) and assist. Playing really well as a number ten behind centre-forward Jaden Williams, Donley linked up very well with Williams throughout the game, and on another day the forward could have had more goals to his name. Donley has now been involved in five goals (three goals and two assists) from league appearances so far this season.

Spurs Under 18’s versus Reading: (match preview)

Spurs’ Under 18 side return to playing competitive games on Saturday (the game starts at 11:30 am), when they host Reading at Hotspur Way, in the Premier League South. Both sides have lost their opening three league games of the season going into Saturday’s game, and last season both games between the two sides ended in draws, with the first of those two matches ending in a dramatic 4-4 draw at Hotspur Way. It sounded like Spurs were unlucky to lose 3-2 to Birmingham City in their last league game, but a good thing about the Reading game on Saturday is that Northern Ireland Under 19 international Jamie Donley returns, after serving a three game ban for a straight red card that he picked up in Spurs’ Under 18’s defeat to Chelsea last month. However, defender and second year scholar Jordan Hackett had to come off for England Under 18’s after just ten minutes in a recent match against Wales, so I would imagine that he will be a doubt for the game on Saturday. It should be another good match on Saturday and hopefully Spurs can get their first win of the new season. I will be reporting on the match and would like to wish the team all the very best of luck for the game.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Hayton, McKnight, Dorrington, Andiyapan, Linton, Cassanova (c), Haysman, Donley, Kyerematen, Owen, Williams.

Subs from: Krasniqi, Bryan-Waugh, Torraj, Chaplin, Bloxham.

Injured/unavailable: N/A.

Doubtful: Jordan Hackett.

Previous meeting: 2-2.

My score prediction: Spurs 2-1.

My one to watch: Harvey Maunder (17). The Reading attacking midfielder scored ten league goals from 21 appearances last season.

Spurs Under 18’s versus Birmingham City: (match preview)

Spurs’ Under 18 side will face a new team in the Premier League South this Saturday (the game starts at 12:00pm), when they take on Birmingham City at their Trillion Trophy Training Centre. Birmingham City were recently awarded Category One Academy status, and this is their first season playing in the Premier League South. They have lost both of their Under 18 matches so far this season, losing to Brighton and Southampton respectively. Spurs have also lost their two opening games of the season, losing 7-2 to Chelsea last time out, although Spurs did play quite a long part of that game with ten men. Saturday’s match is the last game that Spurs’ Under 18 side will play before the international break, and some of the players will be away on international duty during that time. As for me covering Saturday’s match however, I had sent emails off to Birmingham regarding attending the game, but unfortunately I haven’t heard back, so sadly I won’t be reporting on the match. However, I would like to wish the side all the very best of luck for the game.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Hayton, McKnight, Dorrington (c), Andiyapan, Hackett, Cassanova, Kyerematen, Mathurin, Haysman, Owen, Williams.

Subs from: Krasniqi, Bryan-Waugh, Torraj, Turner, Bloxham.

Injured/unavailable: Jamie Donley (suspended).

Doubtful: N/A.

Previous meeting: N/A.

My score prediction: Spurs 4-2.

My one to watch: Jobe Bellingham (younger brother of Borussia Dortmund player Jude Bellingham). The Birmingham City player has scored two goals from two appearances for their Under 18 side this season, and he has also already made the bench for their first team this season.

Spurs Under 18’s versus Chelsea: (match preview)

Spurs’ Under 18 side have their first home league game of the season tomorrow, and it’s a London derby against Chelsea (it starts at 11:00pm on Saturday, at Hotspur Way). Spurs lost their opening game of the Premier League South season 4-2 to Fulham last Saturday, despite putting in a very good performance in the second half of that game. Spurs’ opponents on Saturday started the 2021/22 season by beating West Brom 5-2, but last season Chelsea actually finished behind Spurs in the league, as they finished in seventh place, one point behind sixth placed Spurs. Over the years this fixture has produced some memorable games at this level, and last season Spurs beat Chelsea 6-1 at Cobham before then losing 1-0 in the reverse fixture at Hotspur Way. Tomorrow’s game will be a very competitive one but it will be very interesting to see how it goes. I’m particularly looking forward to tomorrow’s game as it’s the first time that I’ll be at Hotspur Way since February 2020, when Spurs’ Under 18 side beat Southampton 6-1. I would like to wish the team all the very best of luck for the match, and my match report will be out later on tomorrow.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Hayton, Torraj, Dorrington (c), Hackett, Linton, Cassanova, Kyerematen, Mathurin, Williams, Bloxham, Donley.

Subs from: Krasniqi, McKnight, Bryan-Waugh, Haysman, Owen.

Injured/unavailable: N/A.

Doubtful: N/A.

Previous meeting: Spurs 0-1 Chelsea.

My score prediction: Spurs 3-2.

My one to watch: Talented Chelsea defender Luke Badley-Morgan (17), who actually featured against Spurs’ Under 23 side last Monday. Badley-Morgan made 11 league appearances for Chelsea’s Under 18 side last season. 

Spurs Under 18’s versus Fulham: (match preview)

Spurs’ Under 18 side start the 2021/22 Premier League South season on Saturday morning at Fulham’s Motspur Park training ground (the game starts at 11:00am), as  they take on last seasons Premier League South champions. New Spurs Under 18’s head coach Stuart Lewis’s talented Spurs side will be hoping to start the season by recording a good result against Fulham, but that will be difficult as the West London club were outstanding at Under 18 level last season. In the first meeting between the two sides last season Spurs won 3-0 at Hotspur Way, but then in the reverse fixture Fulham won 5-0 at Motspur Park. A side who play good football and who are very potent going forward, Fulham have always been a difficult team to play against at this level. On the opening day of the Under 18 Premier League season back in 2019 Fulham beat a strong Spurs Under 18 side 5-0 at Motspur Park, in what was a dominant performance from the home side. This new look Spurs Under 18 side will likely see a good number of first year Academy players make the squad for Saturday’s match, such as centre-forward Jamie Donley. I am sure that this will be a very good and competitive game. However, unfortunately I will be unable to report on the match, as I haven’t been granted permission to attend the match by the home side. I would like to wish Stuart Lewis’s side all the very best of luck for the match and for the 2021/22 season.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Maguire, Torraj, Dorrington, Bryan-Waugh, Hackett, Cassanova (c), Haysman, Mathurin, Kyerematen, Williams, Donley.

Subs from: Hayton, McKnight, Davies, Turner, Bloxham.

Injured/unavailable: N/A.

Doubtful: N/A.

Previous meeting: 0-5.

My score prediction: 2-2.

My one to watch: Michael Olakigbe (17). The Fulham player was involved in ten  goals (four goals and six assists) from 15 Under 18 Premier League appearances last season.

My preview of Spurs’ Under 18’s 2021/22 season:

Spurs’ Under 18 side begin the 2021/22 season with an away Premier League South fixture against current Premier League South champions Fulham at Motspur Park on the 14th of August. New Under 18’s head coach Stuart Lewis has a very big and talented Spurs squad this season, with 25 players a part of the Under 18 side. In addition to the 25 players there are also two goalkeepers – Thimothée Lo-Tutala and Isak Solberg, who are part of the Spurs Under 23 side, but who are still eligible to play for the Under 18’s as overage goalkeepers. Spurs’ first home game of the season is against Chelsea, before they travel to the English Midlands to face a new side in competitive competition in Birmingham City. They have been promoted to category one Academy status, meaning that there are now 14 teams in this seasons Premier League South. In addition to the Premier League South, Spurs will also compete in the prestigious FA Youth Cup as always, but there has been no communication on whether the Premier League Cup will return to how it was before, when it was just for category one Under 18 sides. Fulham and Chelsea are always tough games in the league, but also Arsenal, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa are in my opinion teams to watch out for this season.

Spurs’ Under 18 side played their first friendly of pre-season last Saturday when they played Ipswich Town. Spurs lost the match 3-2, with Jamie Donley and Rio Kyerematen getting our goals. Although there is technically 25 players who are part of the Under 18 side this season, I would personally expect a couple of players such as Dane Scarlett and Alfie Devine to feature rarely for them, because of their involvement with the Under 23 side and first team. Centre-forward and new first year scholar Jamie Donley already featured (Rio Kyerematen and Alfie Dorrington also featured last season) for the Under 18 side on a good number of occasions last season. A tall and physical centre-forward who is clinical in front of goal, Donley has represented both England and Northern Ireland at youth level. I personally wouldn’t at all be surprised if he even stepped up to play for the Spurs Under 23 side on occasions this season. There is a very good number of England youth internationals in the Spurs Under 18 side this season. With Aaron Maguire, Brandon Bryan-Waugh, Alfie Dorrington, Jordan Hackett and Thomas Bloxham just some of them. Although I have hardly seen any of this seasons first year Academy players play apart from Jamie Donley, I have seen a lot more of the second year Academy players over the last two seasons.

Midfielder Khalon Haysman (17) made eight competitive appearances for the Under 18 side last season, but he is in my opinion a really good player, and after impressing for the Under 23 side during pre-season I would expect him to get more starts for the Under 18 side this season. Winger Roshaun Mathurin was in excellent form for the Under 18 side last season and I wouldn’t be at all surprised were he to feature for the Under 23 side in competitive competition this season. I have a good feeling about this season for the Spurs Under 18 side, and I would like to wish them all the very best of luck for the season.

The squad: 

Goalkeepers: Aaron Maguire, Adam Hayton, Luca Gunter.

Defenders: Jahziah Linton, Brandon Bryan-Waugh, Alfie Dorrington, Jordan Hackett, William Andiyapan, Dante Cassanova, Renaldo Torraj, Maxwell McKnight.

Midfielders/wingers: Oliver Turner, Rio Kyerematen, George Abbott, Billy Heaps, Riley Owen, Jez Davies, Khalon Haysman, Alfie Devine, Axel Piesold, Thomas Bloxham, Jaden Williams, Roshaun Mathurin.

Forwards: Dane Scarlett, Jamie Donley.

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. 

My piece on Spurs’ promising young centre-forward Dane Scarlett: 

Centre-forward Dane Pharrell Scarlett enjoyed an excellent first season full-time at Spurs, during the 2020/21 season. Next season Scarlett will be a second year scholar, but during his first year of scholarship at the club he scored a phenomenal total of 25 goals from 27 competitive appearances (includes first team appearances) for Spurs at all levels. The Hillingdon born footballer also registered four assists. In the following short piece I will be writing about some of Dane’s best attributes as a player and also his style of play, as well as talking a bit about the last two seasons for Dane. Scarlett made his Spurs development side debut for a Spurs XI in a pre-season friendly against Enfield Town in the August of 2019. But he first made his competitive Under 18 debut for Spurs on the opening day of the 2019/20 season at Fulham’s Motspur Park training ground, against the west London club. The then schoolboy footballer started against a very good Fulham side on that day. Fulham saw a lot more of the ball than Spurs during that game, when he played almost as a second striker to Kion Etete, and although he didn’t get on the ball much in promising positions, he did work very hard off the ball. Scarlett featured in four more games for Spurs at competitive Under 18 level that season. He came very close to scoring in a league game against Norwich City, in what was a good cameo performance, before then scoring a good centre-forwards goal in the next game against Aston Villa. However, Scarlett unfortunately sustained a bad season ending injury early on in his next league game (after making a sliding challenge), which was against Chelsea in November 2019 (Scarlett also made the bench on one occasion for Spurs’ Under 19 side in the UEFA Youth League).

That injury would have been very difficult for the England youth international, but Dane came back for the 2020/21 season after impressing with the Spurs first team  in some pre-season friendlies. He scored two goals and registered two assists for Matt Taylor’s Spurs Under 18 side against West Ham United on the opening day of the Under 18 league season, and what followed in terms of goalscoring was nothing short of phenomenal. Of the standout individual moments from Dane during the season just gone, a 7-0 Under 18 league win over Southampton stands outs when Dane was involved in five goals (four goals and one assist). Also, his hat-trick against league runners up Crystal Palace would have been a memorable moment for the 17 year old, as would his first competitive goal for the Spurs Under 23 side, back in the December of 2020. However, Scarlett also made three competitive first team appearances for the Spurs first team during the 2020/21 season, registering one assist (he became the youngest player to assist in the competition since Kylian Mbappé). His goalscoring/assists record during the season just gone was almost on the levels of Reo Griffiths’ outstanding 2017/18 season, a season that Griffiths scored 34 competitive goals in. Obviously I haven’t seen as much of Dane at the same stage in his career as I saw of Troy Parrott during his first year of scholarship. However, I feel as if I have seen him enough to write a bit about his style of play. Dane Scarlett is a very good finisher of goals, but something I have been very impressed with has been how good he is in the air. Scoring a good number of goals with his head, his headers are often powerful ones with a nice accuracy to them. A commanding presence up front for the Spurs Under 18’s during the 2020/21 season, Dane seems to exude confidence in those games, but also for the Under 23 side he did cause problems for defenders. With a good example of this being in a Premier League 2 game against Chelsea last year.

During the Spurs Under 23 game game against Chelsea the centre-forward scored a really good and powerful header against Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Čech, after some good movement inside the Chelsea box. The centre-forward was playing out on the right flank as a winger, and his movement off the ball was really impressive, as was his desire to track back and help out the Spurs right-back during the game, and his defensive work during that game was very, very good. Scarlett is obviously a very good finisher, and he is a striker who will score a variety of different goals (he is good from distance also). But if opposition defenders make errors in and around the penalty area then the last thing they need is a centre-forward of Scarlett’s quality around, more than ready to find the back of the net, if given the chance. Apart from his aerial ability the Spurs Academy player who signed his first professional contract with the club last season, is a player who likes to try a variety of finishes (he is a very good finisher). Although he does like to finish with power and style, in my opinion it is actually Scarlett’s off the ball movement which is perhaps his greatest attribute as a player. Terrific at pressing defenders (whenever I have seen him play) and never giving them a moment to focus on the ball, his off the ball work reminds me of Troy Parrott’s, at the same stage in his career. He is so good at getting himself into good goalscoring positions, and he seems to almost ghost into fine positions from which he can score from. A physical player who is not afraid to battle for the ball, Dane takes responsibility in games and he is also a leader too. He is a confident player with good pace, and he showed this in first team games last season against Ludogorets Razgrad and Wolfsberger AC respectively. 

Dane has come back from a bad injury and performed remarkably well during the recent 2020/21 season, and whenever I have seen him I have been so impressed with his off the ball movement, and that desire to run the extra yard for his team. A player who has just had a very promising season, Scarlett has a very promising future in the game, and with Spurs in the inaugural UEFA Conference League next season, the 17 year old will surely get more first team appearances. The centre-forward should be very proud of all that he has achieved during the 2020/21 season, and I wish him all the very best of luck for next season.

My piece on Spurs Academy player Michael Craig:

In my latest Spurs Academy player article I will be focusing on central midfielder Michael Craig, the identical twin brother of Matthew Craig, who I wrote about recently. Barnet born footballer Michael Craig (capped by Scotland as high up as Under 17 level) made his debut for the Spurs Under 18 side as a schoolboy towards the end of the 2018/19 season. Michael came off the bench in a 2-0 league win over Reading, and he would also make an additional appearance for the Spurs Under 18 side, in a 4-0 league win over Fulham. The midfielder registered an assist in that game, and he impressed during his 22 minutes on the pitch. Craig would sign scholarship forms with Spurs for the start of the following 2019/20 season, and he even started for a Spurs XI in a pre-season friendly against Enfield Town, in the August of 2019. In that game Michael put in a really mature performance in central midfield, and he had a calming presence in the centre of the pitch, was tidy with the ball and also made some impressive and well weighted forward passes. A midfielder who can play either as a number four or eight, Craig actually started the season with Spurs’ Under 18 side by playing right-midfield, in a league game against Fulham. Michael started and completed the full 90 minutes of the next three competitive Under 18 matches, impressing in all three. However, shortly after a 4-0 league win against Swansea City in the late August of 2019, Michael sustained an injury which would rule him out for the rest of that 2019/20 season (he registered one assist from his four competitive appearances). Michael spent over a year out injured and he only returned to competitive games for Spurs during the September of last year, when he came on as a late substitute in a 2-0 home Under 18 league win over Arsenal.

Despite spending such a long time out injured, Michael Craig gradually established himself as a key player for Matt Taylor’s Spurs Under 18 side during the season just gone, getting a lot of game time for Spurs at that level. Michael made 20 competitive appearances for the Spurs Under 18 side in the 2020/21 season, contributing with five assists and one goal at that level. Michael also stepped up to play for the Spurs Under 23 side on two occasions, which was fully deserved. The midfielder impressed in both his Premier League 2 appearances against Derby County and Manchester United respectively. And in that Manchester United game in particular Craig really made a big impact on the game. Playing as a number four, he stayed close to Manchester United’s very creative CAM Hannibal Mejbri, and he got stuck in, and was assured in what he did in the central areas of the pitch. The then second year scholar who recently signed his first professional contract with Spurs (it runs until 2023), also registered an assist in the game against Manchester United (Spurs won 3-0). After a really good season of progress for Michael I am predicting for him to become an important regular for the Spurs Under 23 side during the 2021/22 season. So what type of midfielder is Michael? He is a technical one, who tends to play as a more advanced midfielder than his brother Matthew, who is more deep-lying, whereas Michael likes to advance forward with the ball more. He has shown that he can add a good number of goals and assists, and that he is more than capable of dictating play and running things in the centre of the park. Very good at winning possession both in the central areas of the pitch and also in the final third, as he demonstrated in the Spurs Under 18’s 6-1 league win over Chelsea during the 2020/21 season, when he put in a very good performance (registering another assist as well).

In that game against Chelsea at Cobham, Michael Craig pressed really well and he closed down the Chelsea players very effectively, and used the ball to great effect when he had it at his feet. Like Matthew, Michael is good at keeping the ball moving in the central areas of the pitch, and he makes intelligent decisions on the ball, and often with little time to think. He is a creative midfield player who has fine vision, and has the ability to make a highly effective and well weighted threaded pass in the final third. Like his brother Matthew, Michael Craig is a player destined for a bright future in the game in my opinion, and he is a player I look forward to hopefully seeing a lot more of for the Under 23’s next season. I would like to congratulate him on a great 2020/21 season for Spurs.