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.

Farewell and good luck Kazaiah Sterling:

Having been at Spurs for many years (Kazaiah was previously at Leyton Orient) centre-forward Kazaiah Sterling left the club last Thursday, after it was announced by Spurs. Sterling (22) came up through the Academy ranks at Spurs to make two competitive first team appearances for the club, but to those Spurs fans who watch Academy games, they would have first been aware of Kazaiah during the 2014/15 season. During that season the player from north London made a number of competitive appearances for the Spurs Under 18 side as a schoolboy, and he even scored a fine goal against Chelsea in the semi-finals of that seasons FA Youth Cup, at White Hart Lane. Sterling did well for the Under 18 side during the following 2015/16 season, and he would step up to play for the then Spurs Under 21 side on three occasions in competitive competition, scoring once. The former England youth international missed quite a bit of the start of the following 2016/17 season through injury, but his goals in the FA Youth Cup were one of the main reasons why we reached the semi-finals of the competition that season. Also capable of playing out wide or as a second striker, Kazaiah Sterling scored two goals from three appearances for the Spurs Under 23 side that season, a season which he finished strongly. The 2017/18 season saw Kazaiah promoted to the Under 23 side, although he also played for Spurs’ Under 19 side in the UEFA Youth League.

A very technical forward, who is a very clinical centre-forward and particularly good  in situations when he only has the goalkeeper to beat (one on ones), Sterling made his competitive first team debut for Spurs during the 2017/18 season. After he came off the bench against Cypriot side APOEL Nicosia in the UEFA Champions League, at Wembley Stadium. Sterling also scored an impressive amount of goals at Academy level for Spurs during that same season. Although he was a part of Spurs’ (the first team) pre-season for the start of the 2018/19 season, Kazaiah picked up an injury that summer which would rule him out until the October of 2018. He returned to Spurs’ Under 23 side and he would score four league goals from seven Premier League 2 appearances, before joining Sunderland on loan for the second part of the season. After impressing in France for Spurs’ development side in pre-season in the summer of 2019 where Kazaiah put in some really good performances, he joined Doncaster Rovers not long after scoring two goals for Spurs’ Under 23 side, in their Premier League 2 opener. However, he picked up an injury not long after he joined Doncaster, which would sadly rule him out for the rest of the 2019/20 season.  Kazaiah did return for pre-season of the season just gone, and after playing a good number of games for Spurs’ Under 23 side he joined League 2 club Southend United on loan. 

During his time in Essex Kazaiah scored one goal from 12 appearances for Southend, before returning to Spurs and joining Scottish Championship side Greenock Morton for the second part of the season, where in total he made nine appearances, before again returning to Spurs. I always enjoyed watching Kazaiah play for Spurs and I’ve always thought that he is a quality player, but has just been unlucky with injuries. I used to like to watch him in the warmup to games, as during the warmups he would rarely not find the back of the net when the players used to try and beat the goalkeeper from the edge of the six yard box. A skilful player who was more than capable of playing development side football as a first year scholar, Kazaiah is very good at scoring goals from inside the oppositions box. And his goalscoring record at Academy level for Spurs has always been impressive, as has all the different kinds of goals that he has scored at that level. A player who shows great composure in front of goal and who also likes to place his efforts on goal rather than go for power. Some games which really stand out from watching Kazaiah over the years include the time when he scored two goals in the FA Youth Cup against Norwich City in 2017. And also an excellent individual performance for Spurs’ Under 23 side in the Premier League 2 against Manchester United at Old Trafford in 2018.

I truly believe that the hardworking centre-forward has a very good future in the game, and I very much look forward to following his progress. Farewell and good luck, Kazaiah. 

Farewell and good luck Chay Cooper:

Of the 11 Academy players that left Spurs on Thursday with their contracts almost coming to an end, one player from the very talented 2018/19 Academy first year intake was also on the list. Harlow born winger Chay Cooper had previously been at Southend United prior to joining Spurs as a schoolboy, and then later signing scholarship forms with the north London club in the summer of 2018. A versatile and creative player who is capable of playing out wide on either flank, as a CAM or even in central midfield, Cooper had shown his versatility during his time at Spurs in their Under 18 side. Chay made his competitive debut for Spurs’ Under 18 side in a Premier League Cup game against Wolves in the September of 2018. And although he didn’t get a lot of competitive game time during the remainder of that season (he made the bench on one occasion for our development side in the EFL Trophy), Chay did put in a terrific performance against Aston Villa, at their training ground, in a league game. With the then first year scholar causing so many problems for the Aston Villa defence, in a game which Spurs won 3-2. That performance was a sign of things to come for Chay, who during the following and curtailed 2019/20 season would put in a series of really good performances. Performances of which included some really memorable moments for Chay, and during that season he contributed to the Under 18 side by scoring five goals and registering six assists. Always more than capable of wowing with with his skill, agility and ability to score from long range (he is good with both feet), Cooper impressed me very much in Under 18 Premier League games against the likes of Swansea City, Southampton and Norwich City. He also came off the bench against Liverpool in the FA Youth Cup to score a really nice goal, to help us progress into the next round of that competition.

His ability on the ball to create chances out of nothing, as well as his pace and defensive work are some of his main attributes, which in my opinion saw him do so very well during the 2019/20 season. In a piece which I wrote on Chay during the 2019/20 season, I mentioned a few similarities he has as a player with Nathan Oduwa. Nathan was more than capable of producing magnificent pieces of skill at Spurs, and some of the outrageous pieces of skill that Chay managed to produce home and away, did remind me of Nathan. One standout piece of skill in an Under 18 league game against Arsenal, saw Chay knock the ball over an Arsenal player before then deftly putting the ball through the legs of another player. He then skilfully turned away from another Arsenal player before setting up Kion Etete, who scored after receiving Chay’s nice and accurate lofted pass inside the Arsenal penalty area. Although Chay featured in three pre-season friendlies for Spurs’ Under 23 side during pre-season of the season just gone, he wouldn’t play a competitive game for the Spurs Under 23 side that season. He returned to his old club Southend United on a development loan, which saw him play for their Under 23 side. Chay wouldn’t play again for Spurs at Academy level. An unpredictable and highly skilful player, I am sad to see Chay leave Spurs, but I really do believe that he has a very bright future in the game to look forward to, wherever that may be. The player whose favourite footballer is Lionel Messi, will in my opinion no doubt go on to achieve really good things in the game. I very much look forward to following his footballing journey, and I wish Chay all the very best of luck for the future.

Farewell and good luck Jack Roles: 

Goal-scoring former Spurs midfielder Jack Roles has been one of the most consistent players for Spurs at Under 18 and Under 23 level in recent years, in my opinion. The former Cyprus Under 21 international from Enfield, has left Spurs after his contract came to an end this week, as it was announced by the club on Thursday. Roles had been at Spurs since a young age, and the now 22 year old had been out on two loans during the season just gone, with Burton Albion and Stevenage Borough respectively. Jack has been a real joy to watch, ever since he first stepped up to play for the Spurs Under 18 side as a schoolboy in the 2014/15 season. Roles didn’t play too many competitive games during the 2015/16 season (he made the bench for the old Spurs Under 21 side during that season), as a first year scholar. However, he played a lot more games for the Under 18’s during the following 2016/17 season, and the midfielder impressively scored 15 league goals from midfield, even scoring more goals than Jadon Sancho, and he impressed as Spurs’ Under 18 side reached the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup, during the same season. Although Jack had been excellent for the Under 18’s during the previous season he had to wait until the September of the 2017/18 season to make his competitive Under 18 debut, with that coming  from the bench in a Premier League 2 game against Everton, at Goodison Park. Roles had to wait a little while before he got a good run in the team, but when he did he ended up scoring four goals in four games. A skilful player, who can play out wide on either flank, as a CAM, central midfielder or as a centre-forward, Jack Roles is a very skilful player with good balance and ball control. His movement off the ball is some of the best that I have ever seen at Academy level, but most importantly of all he is a clinical goal-scorer, who is capable of scoring a great variety of goals.

A hard worker off the ball, the Cyprus youth international who I’m sure will go on to become an important player for the Cyprus senior team in the future, is capable of the spectacular. Whether that be a stunning long distance goal or the ability to skilfully work his way around a crowd of players before threading through a decisive pass, Roles is a match winner, and he proved this time and time again for Spurs at Under 18 and Under 23 level. The boyhood Spurs fan who played for the first team on occasions during the 2019/20 pre-season, would excel for the Spurs Under 23’s during the 2018/19 season, and he scored many a goal and registered many an assist, as he helped Spurs to avoid relegation to Division Two. The 2019/20 season saw him join then League Two side Cambridge United on a season long loan, and it was a successful one too, with Roles scoring some important and impressive goals (he got five in 25 competitive appearances). However, during the season just gone, Jack unfortunately didn’t get too much game time during his two Football League loans. Another member of the talented 2015/16 Academy intake to leave the club, Roles was a real pleasure to watch play for the Spurs Under 18’s, 19’s and 23’s during his time at the club. A couple of games stand out, such as when he led the line for Spurs’ Under 23’s up in County Lancashire, and registered two clever assists in a 3-1 win, in what was a very good individual performance from him. In addition his hat-trick for the Under 23’s against Derby County at Stevenage Borough’s ground also stands out, as does his goal and assist against Manchester United at Old Trafford for the Spurs Under 23 side in early 2018. 

I’m sad to see Jack leave Spurs, especially as he’s a player who I thought was capable of making competitive first team appearances for the club, but I have no doubts whatsoever that the next chapter in his football career will be just the start of great things to come for him in his career. I would like to wish Jack all the very best of luck for the rest of his football career, and I look forward to following his progress in the game.

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.

My piece on a mainstay of the Spurs Under 18 side during the 2020/21 season – Matthew Craig:

Previously of Watford, prior to joining Spurs as a schoolboy, versatile young footballer Matthew Craig was a regular and important player for Spurs’ Under 18 side during the season just gone. Like his twin brother Michael, Matthew is about to become a first year professional with the club (beginning at the start of the 2021/22 season), as he recently signed his first professional contract with them, which runs until 2023. The former Dame Alice Owen’s School pupil was a county cup winner and 1,500m district champion during his school days, and Matthew Craig has also represented Scotland at youth level, and he played for them at the 2018 Victory Shield. Obviously over the course of the last 2020/21 season I haven’t seen anywhere near as much of the Spurs Under 18 side as I would have in previous seasons when I would report on every game, home and away. However, and while part of this piece on Matthew Craig is based on watching the Barnet born footballer play during the 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons, I still feel as if I have watched more than enough of Matthew for Spurs, to be able to write this short piece on what type of player he is. A central midfielder by trade, Matthew Craig (18) first made his Spurs Under 18 competitive debut back in the 2018/19 season. When the then schoolboy footballer came off the bench in the same game that his brother also did, to help Spurs to defend a two goal lead against Reading, away. Matthew did well in that game, and then a couple of weeks later he came off the bench again for the Spurs Under 18 side in a league game Aston Villa. Signing scholarship forms with Spurs for the start of the 2019/20 season, Matthew showed his versatility during the early stages of that season, playing at right-back and centre-back.

Putting in two really good and assured performances against Norwich City and Swansea City in central defence at the beginning of the competitive season, Matthew Craig followed this up by playing in his main position of CDM for the next game against West Ham. However, an injury sustained in the following game against Southampton at their Staplewood training ground ruled him out until the January of 2020, with Craig eventually returning to play in a league game against Brighton as a substitute. He played three further competitive games for Matt Taylor’s Spurs side, playing well in all three. But his best game for Spurs that season came in the final one, just before the season was curtailed, when Matthew registered two good assists in a 6-1 league win over Southampton at Hotspur Way. The next season (2020/21) the midfielder played 23 competitive games for Spurs’ Under 18 side, often alongside his twin brother Michael in central midfield, but Matthew would have almost certainly have played in every competitive game for the Spurs Under 18 side that season, but for missing the final games of the league season, presumably because of injury. He established himself as an important member of Matt Taylor’s side during the season just gone, and getting such a good amount of games will do him good for next season, when he steps up permanently to the Under 23 side. So what type of player is Matthew Craig? Well when he plays as a central defender (RCB) the midfielder has always impressed me whenever I have seen him play there. He keeps good positioning and is particularly good at making blocks, as he showed in the FA Youth Cup fourth round tie against AFC Wimbledon early in the year. His fine reading of the game also helps him to play well at centre-half, as well as his ability on the ball to bring it out from the back.

As a midfielder Matthew plays usually as a number 4, and he is more deep-lying than his brother Michael, who likes to get forward more. An intelligent and tigerish midfield player who likes to watch Harry Winks play for Spurs, Matthew is very good at anticipating the play and he works very hard off the ball, covering a lot of ground during matches, thanks to his great stamina. With good passing ability, the midfielder is good at keeping the ball moving in the central areas of the pitch, just like somebody like Harry Winks does, for example. Never overcomplicating things when he is on the ball, Matthew has a calming presence about him on the pitch, but he is also a tenacious player despite not being the biggest of players. Good at making challenges and getting in front of opposing teams players at the vital moment, one thing that Craig does which I really like is that he is so often looking to make that forward pass whenever he receives the ball. However, most importantly he is a very consistent performer and a reliable player, who looks to have a very bright future ahead of him in the game. And he is at a great club for producing defensive minded midfielders. I would like to wish Matthew all the very best of luck for next season, when I hopefully will see him play again on a regular basis. He should be proud of all that he has achieved during the season just gone.

Spurs Under 23’s 1-6 Manchester City: (match report)

In Spurs’ Under 23’s final competitive game of the 2020/21 season, Wayne Burnett’s side came up against the champions Manchester City, for the second time in a week. However, unfortunately Spurs lost 6-1, which was a real shame as Spurs have had a very good season at this level and finish in third place in Division One of the Premier League 2. Wayne Burnett’s side started with Thimothee Lo-Tutala in goal (his competitive Under 23 debut), whilst a back four consisting of Marcel Lavinier, Brooklyn Lyons-Foster, Tobi Omole and Dennis Cirkin, started in defence. Nile John and captain Jamie Bowden were in central midfield, whilst Elliot Thorpe and Dilan Markanday started out wide, either side of CAM Alfie Devine (Devine did often play out on the left flank). Dane Scarlett started up front for Spurs, in the absence of Kion Etete and Rodel Richards. Spurs got the game underway on a nice evening at Hotspur Way, and defender Brooklyn Lyons-Foster did well to intercept Cole Palmer’s early and promising forward pass towards Liam Delap. Not long afterwards and at the other end of the pitch, Manchester City goalkeeper James Trafford’s attempted pass to Tommy Doyle was intercepted by Jamie Bowden inside the visitors box. However, Bowden’s low side-footed effort was saved by the foot of James Trafford, in what was a glorious early chance for Spurs. Marcel Lavinier did well to block Ben Knight’s effort, before Tobi Omole gave the ball to Ben Knight on the edge of the Spurs box, but his goal attempt went wide. After receiving the ball out on the right flank, Marcel Lavinier went forward with it at some pace, he evaded the challenge of Romeo Lavia well, before passing the ball to Devine. The Warrington born midfielder cleverly worked his way into the Manchester City box before curling his effort wide of the Spurs goal.

After Bowden gave the ball away to Cole Palmer, the Manchester City winger passed the ball to Tommy Doyle on the edge of the Spurs box, but Omole did well to block his effort. Lavinier then blocked Liam Delap’s effort on goal, before Thimothee Lo-Tutala saved Cole Palmer’s attempt. At the other end of the pitch Alfie Devine had an effort deflected behind for a corner kick, and from that corner kick which was taken by Dilan Markanday, Brooklyn Lyons-Foster nodded the ball over the bar. After Liam Delap latched onto Cole Palmer’s pass, the skilful centre-forward ran into the Spurs penalty area, before calmly slotting the ball past Lo-Tutala to make it 1-0 to Manchester City. A matter of minutes later Liam Delap received the ball into his feet before running down the left side of the Spurs box and holding off Lyons-Foster, before curling the ball into the far corner of Lo-Tutala’s goal, 0-2. And Manchester City’s excellent start to the game got even better in the 28th minute, after Cole Palmer received the ball on the edge of the Spurs box before calmly curling the ball in off the right hand post of the goal and into the net, 0-3. Manchester City continued to play their exciting brand of attacking football, and a good block from Lyons-Foster was needed to stop James McAtee’s effort on goal, before Tobi Omole did really well to make a fine challenge on Cole Palmer in the Spurs box, to prevent a certain goal for the away team. Dane Scarlett ambitiously attempted to catch out Trafford from distance, but his effort went wide of the Manchester City goal.

A misplaced pass went straight to Elliot Thorpe inside the Manchester City box, but his effort was saved well by the feet of James Trafford. After receiving Lyons-Foster’s fine long pass out on the right flank, Dilan Markanday came inside and into the visitors box, before hitting the ball across the face of their goal, and then after the play was recycled Elliot Thorpe hit an effort wide of the goal. Tobi Omole received a yellow card from the referee for a foul on James McAtee, in what was the last piece of action from the first half. Manchester City got the game restarted after the break and it was the perfect start to the second half for them. After Cole Palmer  finished well past Lo-Tutala from close range, after latching onto Tobi Omole’s pass out from defence, 0-4. A couple of moments later Lo-Tutala saved well low down, to prevent Ben Knight’s effort on goal, before Markanday did well to come forward with the ball. He then played a good pass into Alfie Devine down the left side of the Manchester City box, but James Trafford turned behind his effort, before Omole headed over Markanday’s resulting corner kick. Tobi Omole then did well to clear Ben Knight’s cross, before Liam Delap headed over another cross from the same player a couple of moments later. Lyons-Foster cleared away the ball from James McAtee’s cross, but Spurs could do nothing to prevent Manchester City’s fifth goal of the game shortly afterwards. After the visitors broke forward at pace through Cole Palmer, the winger then threaded the ball into the feet of Delap, who then continued into the Spurs box before firing the ball past Lo-Tutala and into the back of the net, despite the Spurs goalkeeper managing to get a hand on the ball, 0-5.

Second year scholar Romaine Mundle came on to replace Elliot Thorpe out on the right flank, in what was Spurs’ first change of the game. After receiving Dilan Markanday’s well weighted through-ball pass, Dane Scarlett continued into the Manchester City box before confidently sending the ball past James Trafford and into the back of the Manchester City goal, 1-5. After receiving teammate Cole Palmer’s pass down the right side of the Spurs box, Liam Delap’s fierce strike went just wide of the Spurs goal. Nile John blocked Cole Palmer’s shot, before Tommy Doyle fired an effort over Lo-Tutala’s goal, after Tobi Omole had blocked Cole Palmer’s effort behind for a corner kick. J’Neil Bennett came on to replace Dane Scarlett up front, for Wayne Burnett’s second change of the game. The very talented Cole Palmer hit an effort wide before Dilan Markanday whipped over a free-kick in a decent position, at the other end of the pitch. J’Neil Bennett did well to block Cole Palmer’s shot inside the Spurs box, before Cirkin had an effort on goal blocked at the opposite end of the pitch. Rafferty Pedder came on to replace Jamie Bowden in midfield late on in the game, before Ben Knight hit the ball over from the left side of the Spurs penalty area. After travelling forward towards the Spurs box, Manchester City player Romeo Lavia managed to find the bottom left hand corner of Lo-Tutala’s goal with a fine effort, after receiving Ben Knight’s pass, 1-6. After playing a good one-two with Markanday on the edge of the Manchester City box, Rafferty Pedder forced a save out of James Trafford. 

After receiving the ball J’Neil Bennett hit the ball over James Trafford’s goal, before Lo-Tutala saved Tommy Doyle’s effort at the other end of the pitch, before the referee blew his whistle for full-time. It would be very easy to say that Spurs weren’t good, or focus on what they could have done to stop Manchester City scoring six goals, but sometimes you’ve just got to appreciate the brilliance of the opposition, and Manchester City were brilliant throughout yesterday’s game. It’s been a really good season for Spurs at Under 23 level, and that is a credit to the players and the coaches, who should all be very proud of helping the team to achieve their highest ever finish in the Premier League 2.

Player reviews: 

  • Thimothee Lo-Tutala: On his competitive Spurs Under 23 debut, goalkeeper Thimothee Lo-Tutala made a decent number of saves to stop Manchester City from scoring more goals than they did. He was visibly frustrated that he unfortunately couldn’t keep out Romeo Lavia’s late goal, but any young goalkeeper would have found it difficult against Manchester City in Friday evenings game.
  • Marcel Lavinier: I was impressed with some of the forward runs that Lavinier made from deep, and also some of his blocks inside the Spurs box. Yesterday’s  competitive appearance was number 22 of the seasons for Lavinier, the most of any Spurs Under 23 player during the 2020/21 season.
  • Brooklyn Lyons-Foster: Despite the fact that Spurs defence conceded six goals to Manchester City, I don’t think that the scoreline tells the story of how Lyons-Foster played at RCB. The defender who once again supported the attack well after making runs from deep, did make some good and important defensive contributions. The versatile 20 year old also kept some good defensive positioning, and his distribution out from defence was good, in my opinion.
  • Tobi Omole: Obviously Tobi Omole would have been disappointed to have unfortunately given the ball to Cole Palmer, who as a result scored his second  goal of the game. However, apart from that and some of his other passing out from defence, Omole impressed by making some really good defensive interventions during the game. And the 21 year old former Arsenal player has been consistently very good throughout the 2020/21 season, ever since he joined the club last autumn. 
  • Dennis Cirkin: Going forward I thought that the left-back made some powerful and purposeful runs from deep, showing good skill on the ball.
  • Nile John: Playing as the deepest of the two central midfielders, second year scholar Nile John showed some fine skill on the ball in the middle of the pitch.
  • Jamie Bowden: The Republic of Ireland youth international played the game as a number eight, and the Spurs captain got forward more than he would on other occasions this season, during his 77 minutes on the pitch. It has been really good to see him get a really good run of games this season, after missing some time with injury.
  • Elliot Thorpe: Showing some good skill on the ball out on the right flank and going on some good forward runs, Thorpe also worked well and moved well off the ball, despite playing out of position. He came very close to scoring a goal during the first half, only to be denied by a fine save from James Trafford.
  • Alfie Devine: Despite wearing the number ten shirt, Alfie Devine’s starting position was often out on the left flank, where I thought that he had a solid game. And during the first half he caused some problems for the Manchester City defence. He also worked tirelessly off the ball.
  • Dilan Markanday: My man of the match, see below.
  • Dane Scarlett: The scorer of our only goal of the match, centre-forward Dane Scarlett worked really hard off the ball, and he showed good composure to score from his only really chance of the game.
  • Romaine Mundle: The second half substitute replaced Elliot Thorpe out on the the right flank for the final 62 minutes of the game.
  • J’Neil Bennett: Showing some good skill on the ball after replacing Dane Scarlett up front during some of the second half, J’Neil Bennett looked good going forward during part of his time on the pitch.
  • Rafferty Pedder: The energetic late substitute played a clever one-two with Dilan Markanday, before forcing a save out of James Trafford.

My man of the match: Dilan Markanday was superb against Manchester City on Friday, in my opinion. Although his starting number was 11, the 19 year old often started from a central position, and the player who threaded a nice forward pass into Dane Scarlett, to set the centre- forward up for his goal (fourth assist of the season), was really creative for Spurs throughout yesterday’s match. Drifting into good advanced positions and also going on some really clever and skilful forward runs, I thought that Markanday created more chances than any other Spurs player on the pitch. And the consistent and hardworking player also was good from set-pieces throughout the game, and also very difficult to get the ball off.

Spurs: Lo-Tutala, Lavinier, Cirkin, John, Lyons-Foster, Omole, Thorpe (Mundle 58), Bowden (c) (Pedder 77), Scarlett (Bennett 65), Devine, Markanday. Substitutes (not used): Kurylowicz, Paskotsi.

Manchester City: Trafford, Gomes, Sandler, Burns, Bernarbe (Robinson 65), Lavia, Palmer, Doyle (c), Delap, McAtee (Smith 86), Knight (Breckin 86). Substitute (not used): Slicker.

Spurs under 23’s versus Manchester City: (match preview)

After a long season which started back in September of last year, Spurs’ under 23 side will end their Premier League 2 season with a home game against champions Manchester City, at Hotspur Way on Friday (the game starts at 17:00pm). Still looking to finish as runners up to Manchester City in the league, Wayne Burnett’s side will finish in their highest ever position in the Premier League 2 regardless of what the result is tomorrow evening. Of course Spurs met Manchester City up in Manchester in their last game, last weekend. And Spurs played well in that game, even though they lost 4-1. Manchester City’s forwards were excellent last Friday, and top scorer Liam Delap (he has scored 21 league goals this season) had a very good game and his off the ball movement, as well as his skill on the ball impressed me throughout the game. Midfielder Tommy Doyle and also forwards Cole Palmer and James McAtee had very good games as well. Manchester City love to have the ball and they will look to frustrate the Spurs players with their passing game, but particularly during the second half of the reverse fixture, Spurs took the game to Manchester City more. Brooklyn Lyons-Foster scored a good goal from a set-piece, while Spurs also had a goal disallowed with the score at 3-1 to Manchester City last week. Stopping Manchester City from controlling the game will be the key to Spurs getting a result tomorrow, but on their day Spurs can beat any team at this level. This has been an excellent season for Spurs and whatever the result is tomorrow, the team can be proud of what they have achieved this season. I would like to wish them all the very best of luck for tomorrow’s game.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Kurylowicz, Lavinier, Lyons-Foster, Omole, Cirkin, Thorpe, Bowden (c), Bennett, Pedder, Markanday, Etete.

Subs from: Lo-Tutala, Paskotsi, Devine, Richards, Scarlett.

Injured/unavailable: N/A.

Doubtful: Josh Oluwayemi.

Previous meeting: Spurs 1-4.

My score prediction: 3-3.

My one to watch: Manchester City centre-forward Liam Delap (18), who has scored 21 goals from 19 Premier League 2 appearances this season. Delap is an excellent young centre-forward.

Spurs under 23’s 1-4 Manchester City: (match report)

In their penultimate Premier League 2 game of the season, Wayne Burnett’s Spurs under 23 side travelled to Manchester City’s Academy stadium on Friday, to face the Premier League Division One champions. Spurs were beaten 4-1 by the champions, but despite the scoreline I thought that Spurs played well, particularly during the second half and against such a good team. Defender Tobi Omole had a goal disallowed when the score was 3-1, and if that had been allowed then Spurs could have got something out of the game. Spurs lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation as Kacper Kurylowicz started in goal for the first time in a competitive game at this level. A back four consisting of Marcel Lavinier, Brooklyn Lyons-Foster, Tobi Omole and Dennis Cirkin started in front of him. Elliot Thorpe and captain Jamie Bowden started in central midfield, while J’Neil Bennett and Alfie Devine started out on the flanks, either side of CAM Dilan Markanday. Rodel Richards started up front for Spurs. Spurs got the game underway and an important early interception from Tobi Omole stopped James McAtee’s through-ball from reaching Liam Delap, who would have been through on goal. A Dilan Markanday free-kick from the left flank into the Manchester City box was challenged by Rodel Richards and Philippe Sandler, and the Man City defender managed to head the ball behind for a corner kick. Dennis Cirkin tried his luck from range but his effort went wide, after eventually receiving the ball from Alfie Devine’s corner kick. After Jamie Bowden conceded a free kick, Tommy Doyle stepped up to take it for the home side. The talented midfielders powerful curling effort from long range beat Kurylowicz at his near post, and nestled into his goal, 0-1.

Kurylowicz gathered Ben Knight’s cross from the right, before at the other end of the pitch Alfie Devine received J’Neil Bennett’s pass down the right flank, before pulling the ball back for Markanday inside the oppositions box. However, Markanday’s effort was deflected off of Finley Burns and over for a corner kick. Brooklyn Lyons-Foster had a low effort from distance go wide, before Elliot Thorpe had an effort blocked from range. After Liam Delap had received James McAtee’s pass inside the Spurs box he tried his luck on goal, but his powerful effort was well blocked by Lyons-Foster. Marcel Lavinier then blocked Cole Palmer’s effort as Manchester City continued to see a lot of the ball. After Claudio Gomes passed the ball to Cole Palmer down the right side of the Spurs box, Palmer attempted to score but Kurlyowicz saved well at his near post. Kurylowicz then saved Cole Palmer’s effort from the edge of the Spurs box. At the other end of the pitch Markanday saw his free-kick from the right flank gathered by James Trafford. After James McAtee had passed the ball to Ben Knight down the left side of the Spurs box, Knight powerfully hit the ball past Kurylowicz and into the top right corner of his goal to finish off a great move, 0-2. James Trafford punched clear a free-kick from Markanday before Kurylowicz did well to come out of his goal and get to the ball before Liam Delap could get to it inside the Spurs box, in what was the final piece of action from the first half. The champions got the game back underway for the second half and there was a change, as Kion Etete came on to replace Rodel Richards up front. After Liam Delap received James McAtee’s pass he skilfully worked his way into the Spurs box before getting past Omole and forcing a save out of Kurylowicz low down.

Philippe Sandler curled just wide of the goal from inside the Spurs box, before Etete managed to win the ball off of Claudio Gomes on the edge of the Spurs box, he gave the ball to Markanday, who then gave the ball to Bennett on the edge of the box, but his effort was pushed away by James Trafford. After receiving the ball Elliot Thorpe went on a good surging run through the middle before attempting to beat James Trafford from the edge of the Manchester City box, but his low effort went narrowly wide of the goal. Omole blocked Cole Palmer’s shot from inside the Spurs box, before Jamie Bowden received a yellow card. After coming inside from the right flank James McAtee saw his effort on goal go just wide. And shortly afterwards a great move from the home side resulted in Cole Palmer passing the ball to James McAtee on the left, and he then passed it to Claudio Gomes down the left side of the Spurs box and he then squared the ball for Liam Delap to tap home, 0-3. However, Spurs responded well, and Lyons-Forced a good reaction save from a header from Trafford, after meeting Markanday’s corner kick. James Trafford then managed to turn behind Tobi Omole’s header. Spurs managed to pull a goal back from the following corner kick, as Lyons-Foster once again met Markanday’s ball into the box, and his glancing header was headed in off the bar by a Manchester City player, 1-3. James Trafford saved Dilan Markanday’s shot on goal, before Etete forced a save from the goalkeeper, from a header, after meeting J’Neil Bennett’s cross.

The alert Elliot Thorpe did well to intercept Liam Delap’s pass inside the Spurs penalty area, before Jamie Bowden blocked the same players shot inside the box moments later. Cole Palmer came very close to scoring with an effort from distance, before Rafferty Pedder came on to replace Elliot Thorpe in midfield. After getting on the ball just outside of the Manchester City box, Kion Etete gave the ball to J’Neil Bennett, whose effort was turned behind by Trafford. Spurs then had a goal disallowed after Etete was adjudged by the referee to have fouled James Trafford, just before Tobi Omole scored. After going on a good forward run Bowden saw his effort on goal go over the bar, before he received J’Neil Bennett’s pass inside the Manchester City box not long afterwards. Bowden chipped the ball forward for Dilan Markanday, who skilfully worked his way past James Trafford, but then lost his balance and shot wide of the goal. After meeting Jamie Bowden’s corner kick, Dennis Cirkin had a header blocked, before Manchester City scored their fourth goal of the game. James McAtee latched onto Cole Palmer’s pass before running into the Spurs box and calmly curling the ball past Kacper Kurylowicz and into the left corner of the goal, 1-4. That was to be the last action of the game.

Player reviews:

  • Kacper Kurylowicz: Making his first ever competitive start at this level, goalkeeper Kacper Kurylowicz had a good game, I thought. Tommy Doyle’s opening free-kick goal was an excellent one, and I don’t think that you could criticise him for not keeping that out. In addition the 19 year old made some good saves, including a fine one at his near post. He distribution was also good throughout the game.
  • Marcel Lavinier: The right-back liked to get forward, but he also did well in defence. And the former Chelsea player came inside quite often to help out the two Spurs central defenders.
  • Brooklyn Lyons-Foster: After making an impressive early block, Lyons-Foster impressed with his positioning in defence. He brought the ball out well from the back along with Tobi Omole, and he liked to step forward out of the defence and join his teammates when they went forward on occasions. The 20 year old defender also scored a good headed goal, his second goal of the season.
  • Tobi Omole: Starting the game at LCB, defender Tobi Omole like Lyons-Foster did all that he could possibly do to try and stop the talented Manchester City forwards from scoring. Omole has had a very good season for Spurs.
  • Dennis Cirkin: I thought that this was a solid defensive performance front the 19 year old left-back, and he also went on some good forward runs down the left.
  • Elliot Thorpe: My man of the match, see below.
  • Jamie Bowden: The Spurs captain showed good skill on the ball and tried to influence the game with his impressive passing. Bowden was involved in some nice pieces of play going forward for Spurs, and the 19 year old went one particularly impressive forward run during the second half, as well as creating a good opportunity for Dilan Markanday to score from.
  • J’Neil Bennett: The winger tried on a good number of occasions to test Manchester City goalkeeper James Trafford. And J’Neil Bennett tried to take on the opposing teams defenders when he had the ball out on the right flank.
  • Dilan Markanday: Often drifting out to the left flank, Dilan Markanday impressed with his set-pieces (he assisted Brooklyn Lyons-Foster’s goal). Markanday also made some clever runs off the ball, and he worked very hard off it as well.
  • Alfie Devine: Although he was wearing the number 11 shirt, midfielder Alfie Devine had more of a free role, and he would often come into more central positions to try and influence the game.
  • Rodel Richards: The forward pressed the Manchester City goalkeeper and defence really well during his time on the pitch, but he didn’t have great service into his feet, and was therefore unable to make much of an impact on the game during the first half.
  • Kion Etete: The second half substitute allowed Spurs to whip more crosses into the Spurs box, because of Kion’s height. He asked questions of the Manchester City defenders.
  • Rafferty Pedder: The late substitute brought plenty of energy to the game from midfield, and he was always looking to receive the ball in good areas of the pitch.

My man of the match: Elliot Thorpe. A lot of Spurs players played well on Friday evening, and I could have given this man of the match award to many players. But playing as the deepest midfielder, Elliot Thorpe made a good impression on the game from that position, as he came forward from deep to try and create, and was in my opinion our most influential player going forward. The 20 year old looked to go on surging forward runs from deep when receiving the ball into his feet, and he tried to take players on and look to create chances. His work rate off the ball was also impressive, along with his powerful forward running. The Wales youth international also came very close to scoring with a low effort from distance.

Manchester City: Trafford, Gomes, Sandler, Burns, Egan-Riley, Lavia (Robertson 74), Palmer, Doyle (c), Delap, McAtee, Knight (F Nmecha 67). Substitutes (not used): Slicker, Robinson, Gbadebo.

Spurs: Kurylowicz, Lavinier, Cirkin, Thorpe (Pedder 82), Lyons-Foster, Omole, Bennett, Bowden (c), Richards (Etete 46), Markanday, Devine. Substitutes (not used): Maguire, Paskotsi.

Spurs under 23’s versus Manchester City: (match preview)

On Friday evening Spurs’ under 23 side play Premier League 2 Division One champions Manchester City at their Academy Stadium in Manchester (the game starts at 19:00pm). It’s first versus second in the league, as league winners Manchester City, who are 12 points above Spurs, will be looking to extend their remarkable unbeaten run in the league, which started all the way back in early November of last year. It has also been a great season for Wayne Burnett’s Spurs side, and they will want to stay in second place in the league during the last two matches of the season (both of which are against Manchester City). Having scored an incredible 69 goals from their 22 league games this season, Manchester City’s talent going forward and also in midfield and defence, is very, very good. Clinical top scorer Liam Delap, has 20 goals from 18 appearances this season, while Cole Palmer has 11 goals and Felix Nmecha has scored 10. Manchester City play really good football, and going forward they will be difficult to defend against. Spurs impressively recorded a 4-1 victory over Liverpool at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last Friday, and that win will give them confidence going into this Fridays game, regardless of how difficult it will be to get a result. George Marsh’s three suspension has come to an end and he will be available to face Manchester City tomorrow, but regular goalkeeper Josh Oluwayemi could miss out, as he came off with an injury in last Fridays game against Liverpool. I would like to wish the Spurs team all the very best of luck for what should be a very good game, involving two very good sides.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Kurylowicz, Lavinier, Lyons-Foster, Omole, Cirkin, Bowden (c), Devine, Bennett, Thorpe, Markanday, Richards.

Subs from: Lo-Tutala, Marsh, John, Pedder, Mundle.

Injured/unavailable: Dane Scarlett, Malachi Fagan-Walcott.

Doubtful: Josh Oluwayemi.

Previous meeting: Spurs 0-2.

My score prediction: 2-2.

My one to watch: Centre-forward Liam Delap (18), who has scored 20 goals from 18 Premier League 2 appearances this season.