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

Spurs’ Under 23 side got their Premier League 2 season underway on Monday evening at Stevenage’s Lamex Stadium, when they hosted 2020/21 Division One runners up Chelsea. Wayne Burnett’s side were in my opinion the better team during the match and they were very unlucky not to win it, as it ended 2-2. Spurs lined up with Joshua Oluwayemi in goal, while Marcel Lavinier, captain Brooklyn Lyons-Foster, Malachi Fagan-Walcott and Ryan Sessegnon formed the back four. Matthew Craig and Harvey White teamed up in central midfield, and Romaine Mundle and J’Neil Bennett started out on the flanks, either side of CAM Alfie Devine. Dilan Markanday led the line for Spurs. Chelsea got the game underway on a sunny evening in Hertfordshire, and a good early move for the away side saw them get into quite a promising position. However, the move ended with Bryan Fiabema having a low effort saved by Spurs’ goalkeeper Joshua Oluwayemi, from the edge of the Spurs box. Malachi Fagan-Walcott then did well to stop Charlie Webster from going into the Spurs penalty area, before Dilan Markanday impressively went past a couple of Chelsea players before passing the ball to J’Neil Bennett on the left flank. Bennett then crossed the ball for Devine, whose headed effort was well tipped over the crossbar by Chelsea goalkeeper Lucas Bergstrom.

From the following corner kick which was taken by Harvey White, the ball eventually ended up falling for Alfie Devine, who hit the ball over the Chelsea crossbar, in what was a difficult chance for the former Wigan Athletic player. Romaine Mundle had an effort blocked behind off a Chelsea defender from J’Neil Bennett’s cross, before a good ball over the top of the Chelsea defence from Harvey White ended up coming to Dilan Markanday who then entered the Chelsea penalty area, but didn’t have any teammates in support. However, a couple of moments later and after Spurs couldn’t clear the ball and it ended up deflecting off of Chelsea player Dion Rankine, the ball came to Harvey Vale, who was brought down by Oluwayemi, resulting in the referee pointing to the penalty spot. From the resulting penalty kick Harvey Vale’s powerful effort went just beyond Oluwayemi and into the back of the net, 0-1. Shortly after the game was restarted Bashir Humphreys blocked Romaine Mundle’s effort inside the Chelsea box, before Devine won the ball off of George Nunn and brought the ball forward before forcing a good save from Lucas Bergstrom. Bennett then came inside from the left flank before seeing his fine curling effort on goal saved well by the Chelsea goalkeeper. Bennett then had an effort blocked shortly afterwards.

From a Harvey White free-kick defender Malachi Fagan-Walcott had a headed effort on goal saved by Bergstrom, before seeing a following effort from another Harvey White free-kick go just wide of the Chelsea goal. Lyons-Foster cleared away Charlie Webster’s effort on goal, while Spurs then went forward down the other end of the pitch, with Harvey White whipping a promising cross right in front of the Chelsea goal. Spurs continued to play really well, and after Lavinier headed behind J’Neil Bennett’s cross, Spurs fell further behind after Chelsea got their second goal of the game. A loose pass was latched onto by Harvey Vale, who went on a surging forward run before calmly slotting the ball into the bottom right hand corner of Oluwayemi’s goal, 0-2. After Markanday was fouled on the edge of the Chelsea box Harvey White stepped up to whip a low effort towards goal. His effort was saved by Bergstrom, with the ball coming to Lyons-Foster, and although he managed to find the back of the net, one of the linesmen had his flag up to rule it out for offside, in what was the final piece of action from the first half. Spurs got the second half underway and the second half got off to a great start for Wayne Burnett’s side, who got a goal back on 48 minutes. A really nice pass from Devine found Marcel Lavinier, who then slipped the ball into the feet of Markanday down the left side of the Chelsea box. And Markanday did well to get the ball beyond the Chelsea goalkeeper and into the goal, 1-2.

A good cross from Lyons-Foster was cleared before Lavinier made an important defensive intervention inside his own penalty area. Oluwayemi saved Charlie Webster’s effort before Spurs equalised through J’Neil Bennett. After receiving Alfie Devine’s pass out on the left flank Bennett came inside onto his right foot and curled a really good effort beyond Lucas Bergstrom and into the far corner of the goal, 2-2. Yago Santiago came on to replace Romaine Mundle, and soon after he came on and received the ball and went forward he had an effort saved by Bergstrom, who then saved a deflected effort from Bennett soon afterwards. The constantly impressive Alfie Devine won the ball in central midfield before travelling forward with the ball and passing it to Bennett, who had an effort blocked behind for a corner kick. Markanday hit over an effort from a Harvey White free-kick before Lyons-Foster had an effort from distance saved. The creative Harvey White then managed to find Markanday down the right side of the Chelsea box, but he was fouled by Bergstrom, resulting in a penalty for Spurs. Harvey White’s effort from the resulting penalty kick was saved by the Chelsea goalkeeper, before then being cleared away.

A lofted pass from Michael Craig found former Chelsea player Marcel Lavinier inside the Chelsea box, but his effort was saved by the Chelsea goalkeeper. A late Spurs substitution saw Rafferty Pedder replace Dilan Markanday, before the referee blew the full-time whistle.

Player reviews:

  • Joshua Oluwayemi: The Spurs goalkeeper didn’t actually have an awful lot to do on Monday night. He did make some important but fairly routine saves and he came close to saving the penalty kick that he conceded, but he could have done nothing to prevent Harvey Vale’s second goal of the game.
  • Marcel Lavinier: Making some strong defensive interventions and also joining the forward players well when going forward, I thought that the right-back who later switched to left-back had a good game. Lavinier got the assist for Markanday’s goal.
  • Brooklyn Lyons-Foster: The Spurs captain started the game at RCB alongside Malachi Fagan-Walcott, before then starting the second half at right-back, where I thought that he did well.
  • Malachi Fagan-Walcott: Playing at left-sided centre-back for this game, the 19 year old kept good positioning in my opinion and he came close to scoring in the first half.
  • Ryan Sessegnon: The Spurs first team player got 45 minutes at left-back to help build up his fitness after missing a lot of pre-season because of injury.
  • Matthew Craig: The deepest of the two central midfielders, Matthew Craig was tigerish in midfield, and he kept the ball moving in the central areas well.
  • Harvey White: It was a very good and creative performance from Harvey White in central midfield against Chelsea. The 19 year old created numerous chances and his set-pieces were very good against Chelsea. He was however, unlucky to miss his late penalty kick.
  • Romaine Mundle: The winger operated out on the right flank and he linked up well with right-back Marcel Lavinier during his time on the pitch.
  • Alfie Devine: Making some really clever passes from the CAM role, moving really well off the ball and also working really hard for the team. Alfie Devine was involved in the build up to both of Spurs’ goals against Chelsea, and I thought that he was influential throughout the match. 
  • J’Neil Bennett: Constantly going on good forward runs down the left flank, unpredictable winger J’Neil Bennett had a really fine game for Spurs. The scorer of an excellently taken goal, Bennett could have scored more goals on the another day.
  • Dilan Markanday: My man of the match. See below.
  • Marqes Muir: The centre-half came on to replace Ryan Sessegnon for the second half, and he did well alongside Malachi Fagan-Walcott. 
  • Yago Santiago: The second half substitute had an effort on goal saved soon after he entered the pitch.
  • Rafferty Pedder: N/A.

My man of the match: Dilan Markanday. Starting the game as a centre-forward Dilan Markanday (19) impressed with his movement off the ball and the really hardworking player showed some tremendous skill to go past Chelsea players as if they weren’t even there on occasions. He took his goal really well from a difficult angle and he also won a penalty kick late on in the match. This was an excellent performance from Markanday, who later operated out on the right flank towards the end of Monday’s game.

Spurs Under 23’s versus Chelsea: (match preview)

Spurs’ Under 23 side get their season underway on Monday night, when they host Chelsea at Stevenage’s Lamex Stadium (the game starts at 19:00pm). Wayne Burnett’s side had a good pre-season, winning three, drawing one and losing one from five friendly matches, and they’ll go into this London derby with Chelsea in good confidence. Since centre-forward Kion Etete joined League Two side Northampton Town on loan Spurs now have only two recognised centre-forward’s at Academy level (Dane Scarlett and Jamie Donley). Although I would imagine that Dane Scarlett will get a lot of minutes for the Under 23’s this season despite his first team involvement. I also wouldn’t be surprised if first year Academy player Jamie Donley also got minutes for the Under 23 side this season. Last season Spurs lost both of their Premier League 2 meetings with Chelsea, who ended up finishing as runners up to Manchester City in Division One last season, four points above of third place Spurs. With players like George McEachran, Thierno Ballo and Jude Soonsup-Bell all potentially involved against Spurs on Monday, it will no doubt be a difficult game for Wayne Burnett’s side. However, if we perform like we did last season then we’ve got a real chance of getting a good result in the opening game of our season. I will be travelling to Stevenage on Monday to report on the match. I would like to wish Spurs all the very best of luck for the game and for the season.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Oluwayemi, Paskotši, Muir, Fagan-Walcott, Lavinier, Lyons-Foster (c), John, Markanday, Devine, Bennett, Scarlett.

Subs from: Lo-Tutala, Cesay, Michael Craig, Pedder, Robson.

Injured/unavailable: N/A.

Doubtful: N/A.

Previous meeting: 1-4.

My score prediction: Spurs 2-1.

My one to watch: Thierno Ballo (19). The Austria Under 21 international is a forward, and he was directly involved in ten goals (seven goals and three assists) from 21 Premier League 2 appearances for Chelsea last season.

Farewell and good luck Dennis Cirkin:

It was announced today by Spurs that young defender Dennis Cirkin (19) has left the club to join League One side Sunderland on a permanent deal. Cirkin has signed a three year deal with Sunderland. A player who signed scholarship forms with Spurs for the start of the 2018/19 season, Dennis Cirkin had already been in Spurs’ Academy for many years before that. A left-back (he used to play as a left-winger) who has also played at centre-half at Academy level. In his first season at Spurs full-time Dennis was outstanding. Showing his ability to beat players with skill and at ease when going forward with the ball as if they weren’t even there, the then first year scholar made 19 competitive appearances for Spurs’ Under 18 side that season. He also featured in the UEFA Youth League and made six appearances for the Under 23 side. Cirkin scored two goals from left-back for the Spurs Under 18 side in 2018/19, and he also registered two assists. Born in Dublin but brought up in England, the left-back who loves to get forward and try and create, did actually have some injury troubles during the following 2019/20 season. It was a season which he would spend mainly with the Spurs Under 18 side, although he did occasionally feature for the Spurs Under 23’s. However, then Spurs boss José Mourinho, a manager who clearly rated Dennis highly, would select the England youth international on three occasions for three first team match-day squads that season (he featured on the bench in all three games).

Dennis featured for Spurs’ first team during the 2020/21 pre-season and I thought that he did well in the games that he was involved in. And although he would make 14 competitive appearances for Spurs’ Under 23 side during the season, Dennis did make the bench for the Spurs first team on two occasions that season. During this pre-season and prior to his move to Sunderland, Cirkin made two appearances for the Spurs Under 23 side during pre-season, with the most recent one coming in a friendly against Barnet last Saturday. In my opinion a very talented left-back and somebody who I really enjoyed watching play for Spurs at Academy level, Cirkin is a player who I feel will have a really good career in the game. His skilful surging runs from deep makes him difficult to defend against, but it’s his excellent stamina and desire to get up and down the left flank so well and effectively which makes him a really good player. He also likes to make strong challenges and he is an intelligent defender who reads the game well, and who likes the physical side of the game. Dennis was a key player in the Spurs Under 18 side which came so close to winning the Premier League South in 2018/19, and he made the step up to the Under 23 side with ease. I have very high hopes for Dennis and I would like to wish him all the very best of luck at Sunderland. Farewell and good luck, Dennis.

Spurs Under 23’s 1-1 Barnet FC: (match report)

Spurs’ Under 23 side played their final pre-season friendly on Saturday when they faced National League side Barnet FC at The Hive Stadium. Wayne Burnett’s side recorded a 1-1 draw with Barnet on the day, in what was probably a fair result. Spurs started the match with Joshua Oluwayemi in goal, while a back four consisting of Marcel Lavinier, Maksim Paskotši, Malachi Fagan-Walcott and Dennis Cirkin lined up in front of him. Captain Brooklyn Lyons-Foster started the game as a number four, while Harvey White started the game as a number eight, and Alfie Devine a number ten. Dilan Markanday and Romaine Mundle started the game out on the flanks and J’Neil Bennett led the line for Spurs. Spurs got the game underway at The Hive Stadium, but it was the home side who had the first real chance of the game. Barnet’s number seven (the team-sheet had no numbers on it) headed wide number ten’s free kick, before Marcel Lavinier came close to latching onto Alfie Devine’s lofted pass at the other end of the pitch. The Barnet goalkeeper, who was often positioned quite high on the pitch, would come out to clear the ball just in time before Lavinier could get to the ball. Shortly afterwards and this time inside the Spurs penalty area Lavinier had to block number seven’s effort on goal, before Markanday blocked the same players effort on the follow up.

Markanday had a deflected effort saved by the Barnet goalkeeper, and then after winning the ball on the left flank and surging forward, Romaine Mundle forced a save from the Barnet goalkeeper. A Barnet throw-in which was headed towards Joshua Oluwayemi’s goal by their number five went just wide of the Spurs goal after coming off of a Spurs player last. After Devine had played a quick one-two with Markanday, the Spurs midfielder brought the ball towards the edge of the Spurs box, before being fouled and brought down by number four. Harvey White’s resulting free-kick came off the Barnet wall before going wide. Oluwayemi tipped over a cross from Barnet’s right-back, before he then gathered a cross from their left-back. At the back post inside the Spurs box, and after connecting with number three’s cross, Barnet’s number ten clipped an effort wide of the Spurs goal. After playing the ball down the right to Dilan Markanday on the right flank, the Barnet born player showed some good skill on the ball inside the Barnet box. He then tried to square the ball to Harvey White, but his pass was intercepted and then cleared. After receiving Dilan Markanday’s pass on the edge Barnet box Harvey White curled a first time effort with his weaker foot just wide of the goal. A couple of minutes later Mundle received Devine’s back-heeled pass on the left flank. He then traveled forward with the ball before coming inside onto his right foot in the Barnet box and curling an effort narrowly wide of the goal.

A long kick forward from Spurs goalkeeper Joshua Oluwayemi was brought down and controlled well by Markanday on the right flank. He then advanced forward with the ball before trying his luck on goal. However, his effort was saved by the Barnet goalkeeper, but Mundle was there to slot home on the follow up, 1-0. The home side got the second half underway and an early penalty appeal from Markanday was turned down by the referee, before Harvey White hit an effort over from long range. Barnet’s number ten then squared the ball to their trialist centre-forward after getting beyond Dennis Cirkin down the right flank. The Barnet centre-forward finished with a first time effort into the bottom right hand corner of Oluwayemi’s goal from inside the Spurs box, 1-1. The alert Brooklyn Lyons-Foster did well to make a block from number 20’s effort, before the Barnet player hit the ball wide of the goal from the edge of the box on the follow up, and then Malachi Fagan-Walcott blocked another Barnet effort on goal. Spurs then made a whole number of changes as Romaine Mundle, J’Neil Bennett, Maksim Paskotši, Brooklyn Lyons-Foster and Dennis Cirkin were replaced by Yago Santiago, Max Robson, Rafferty Pedder, Marqes Muir and Matthew Craig respectively. 

Soon after the game started again Marqes Muir made an important block, before Malachi Fagan-Walcott headed clear a long Barnet throw-in. Spurs made two more substitutions as Michael Craig and Thimothée Lo-Tutala came on to replace Alfie Devine and Joshua Oluwayemi respectively. The impressive Marqes Muir did well to clear a cross from Barnet’s right-back, with the ball then coming to a Barnet player on the edge of the Spurs box, but Fagan-Walcott was able to clear his resulting effort. Yago Santiago’s low but powerful effort from the edge of the Barnet box was saved really well by their goalkeeper. Muir then headed wide from Harvey White’s corner kick before Spurs made their final change of the game as Jeremy Kyezu came on to replace Dilan Markanday at left-back. Number 19 hit a deflected effort wide, and then a couple of minutes after Muir anticipated a Barnet forward move well to make a really important challenge on their number 20 inside the Spurs box, to win the ball and then get it clear. After Harvey White played a clever one-two with Santiago he whipped an effort towards the Barnet goal from the edge of their box, but the goalkeeper made a fine reaction save to tip the ball behind. The final bit of action from the game came from a deflected Harvey White cross which fell to Fagan-Walcott inside the Spurs box, but his volleyed effort on the turn went wide. Spurs get their Premier League 2 season underway on Monday the 16th of August, when they host Chelsea at the Lamex Stadium.

Player reviews:

  • Joshua Oluwayemi: The Spurs goalkeeper didn’t actually have a lot to do today, but I thought that he dealt well with crosses into his box.
  • Marcel Lavinier: It was another solid performance from the 20 year old right-back, who made some important blocks, got forward well and also read the game well. 
  • Maksim Paskotši: Playing at RCB the Estonia international formed a good defensive partnership with Malachi Fagan-Walcott on the day, in my opinion.
  • Malachi Fagan-Walcott: Good in the air and always alert in defence, LCB Malachi Fagan-Walcott put in a good defensive performance against Barnet. 
  • Dennis Cirkin: Playing at left-back Dennis Cirkin liked to get forward a lot down the left flank during his time on the pitch.
  • Brooklyn Lyons-Foster: The deepest of the three Spurs midfielders liked to get on the ball and he also made an important block during the second half. I thought that he did well.
  • Harvey White: A player who I thought grew in to the game as it went on, Spurs’ number eight Harvey White was playing in a more advanced midfield position than usual today.
  • Dilan Markanday: Starting the game out on the right flank as a winger, Dilan Markanday went on some tricky forward runs and he showed good skill on the ball, and was always looking to go forward with it. Markanday created our goal before later filling in at left-back for a short time.
  • Alfie Devine: The most advanced of the three midfielders worked hard and often dropped deep to get on the ball. His standout moment came from his fine run towards the edge of the Barnet box, before being fouled and winning a free-kick in the first half.
  • Romaine Mundle: Starting out on the left-wing against Barnet, the scorer of our only goal of the game also went on some good forward runs.
  • J’Neil Bennett: Playing out of position as a centre-forward, the 19 year old winger tried his best even though he wasn’t playing in his usual position.
  • Yago Santiago: The midfielder occupied the left flank during some of the second half, and he came close to finding the goal on one occasion.
  • Max Robson: Replacing J’Neil Bennett up front, midfielder Max Robson worked hard off the ball but didn’t have much service.
  • Rafferty Pedder: The midfielder went out to play on the right flank during his time on the pitch.
  • Marqes Muir: My man of the match, see below.
  • Matthew Craig: After replacing Lyons-Foster, Matthew Craig came on to play as the deepest midfielder. 
  • Michael Craig: Michael Craig came on to partner his twin brother Matthew in central midfield during the second half.
  • Thimothée Lo-Tutala: The Spurs goalkeeper didn’t have much to do after coming on.
  • Jeremy Kyezu: The defender came on late in the game to play at left-back. 

My man of the match: Marqes Muir. Although he only came on in the 63rd minute of the game I thought that the centre-half (he played at RCB) performed really well after coming on. Making an important clearance, block and challenge, the composed defender also won all of his headers, and he was always alert. Muir has been very impressive in pre-season for Wayne Burnett’s side.

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

Spurs’ Under 23 side will play their final game of pre-season on Saturday afternoon (the game starts at 15:00pm) when Wayne Burnett’s team face National League side Barnet FC at The Hive Stadium. Spurs lost their last pre-season friendly against Crawley Town last Saturday 2-1, which was their first defeat of this pre-season, after having won their three previous games. Barnet recorded a 1-1 draw with League One side Oxford United in their most recent pre-season friendly, and they certainly won’t be an easy team for Spurs to play against on Saturday. Since the Spurs Under 23’s last friendly against Crawley Town, Spurs have loaned out centre-forward Kion Etete to League Two side Northampton Town. Also defender Jubril Okedina has joined League One side Cambridge United on a permanent transfer, having spent the second half of last season on loan with them. So that means that there could be a couple of changes to the Spurs starting eleven on Saturday, and it will be particularly interesting to see who plays at centre-forward, as Alfie Devine started the Crawley game there, while Max Robson started the Hastings United game in that position. With Dane Scarlett possibly in the squad for the first team friendly game against Arsenal on Sunday, that would leave Spurs with only one recognised centre-forward in first year Academy player Jamie Donley. Spurs’ development side last played Barnet in the Papa John’s Trophy in 2017, and on that day Wayne Burnett’s side lost 2-1. I will be reporting on Saturday’s match and I hope to publish my report on Sunday. I would like to wish the team all the very best of luck for the game.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Oluwayemi, Lavinier, Muir, Paskotši, Cesay, Lyons-Foster (c), Michael Craig, Markanday, Devine, Bennett, Robson.

Subs from: Lo-Tutala, Kyezu, Hackett, Matthew Craig, Pedder, Mundle, Santiago.

Injured/unavailable: N/A.

Doubtful: N/A.

Previous meeting: 1-2.

My score prediction: Spurs 2-1.

My one to watch: Barnet’s 30 year old forward Adam Marriott.

Farewell and good luck Jubril Okedina:

Today it was announced by Spurs that young development side centre-half Jubril Okedina had departed the club to join League One side Cambridge United, a team that he made 14 competitive appearances for last season, while on loan from Spurs. The versatile 20 year old defender signed scholarship forms with Spurs for the start of the 2017/18 season, having made his competitive Under 18’s debut for the club during the previous 2016/17 season. Okedina’s first season at the club full-time was heavily disrupted by injury, and he only made two competitive appearances for the Under 18’s during that season. However, during the following 2018/19 season Jubril established himself as an important player for the Under 18 side (he made his competitive Under 19’s and 23’s debuts during the same season), playing both at right-back and at centre-half. He would also really impress at right-back during the end of season Terborg Tournament, in The Netherlands. During the following 2019/20 season the Londoner made the permanent step up to Wayne Burnett’s Under 23 side, making 15 competitive appearances for them during what was a fine season of development for the ever improving defender. And in the 2020/21 season (he made the bench for the first team on one occasion in pre-season), and after making 11 appearances (scoring three goals) for the Spurs Under 23 side, Jubril went out on loan to then League Two side Cambridge United, who he made 14 competitive appearances for. Whenever I saw Jubril play for Cambridge United last season he performed very well in my opinion at centre-half, as he helped them to achieve promotion to League One.

Always composed on the ball and often looking to make ambitious forward passes from deep, Jubril is a really promising centre-half, who reads the game well and is very clever in how he he defends and approaches situations in games. He has good pace and is also skilful on the ball, and dominant in the air, but he likes to defend on his feet. As a right-back over the last couple of seasons Jubril has shown for Spurs at Under 23 and Under 18 level that he is effective at both ends of the pitch. The player who featured in all four of Spurs Under 23’s friendlies this pre-season, is very good at getting up and down the right flank, but he knows when to stay deep. But he also is good at linking up with the winger when getting forward (he likes to make overlapping runs), and he can deliver a really fine cross with his right foot. I remember very well how important Jubril was for Spurs’ Under 18 side during the 2018/19 season, when they came so close to winning the Premier League South. A consistent defender, I have no doubts that Jubril will do very well at Cambridge United, who he has joined on a two year contract. I look forward to following his progress in the game and I wish Jubril all the very best of luck for the future. I am sure that he has a very good future in the game, and I always enjoyed watching him play for Spurs.

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

Wayne Burnett’s Spurs Under 23 side have so far had the perfect start to pre-season. They have won three of their three pre-season matches so far, scoring 13 goals and conceding no goals. The last time that a Spurs development side played Crawley Town was back in 2018, when a Spurs side containing a number of first year Academy players put in a very impressive performance, to record a 1-1 draw in normal time in the Papa John’s Trophy group stage. League Two side Crawley Town faced West Ham United’s Under 23’s in their last pre-season game. The match finished 2-1 to Crawley. Spurs played non-League side Hastings United in their most recent pre-season friendly, and it was a game which Spurs won 3-0. Crawley will be by far Spurs’ most difficult test of pre-season so far, and so it will be a challenging game for Spurs’ Under 23 side on Saturday (the game starts at 15:00pm and takes place a Crawley’s The People’s Pension Stadium). Unfortunately I am unable to attend and report on tomorrow’s game. However, I would like to wish the Spurs team all the very best of luck for the match.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Oluwayemi, Cesay, Muir, Okedina (c), Lavinier, Bowden, Devine, Santiago, Robson, Markanday, Etete.

Subs from: Lo-Tutala, Kyezu, Hackett, Michael Craig, Matthew Craig, Pedder, Mundle.

Injured/unavailable: N/A.

Doubtful: N/A.

Previous meeting: 1-1 (Crawley Town won on penalties).

My score prediction: Spurs 3-2.

My one to watch: If he does play on Saturday then Spurs will be have to be aware of former Spurs Academy player Nicholas Tsaroulla (22). The left-back who loves to get forward and take players on for skill, was a player who I really enjoyed watching when he played for Spurs.

My piece on Spurs’ direct and very reliable Academy winger Romaine Mundle:

Romaine Mundle enjoyed a very good season in 2020/21 for Spurs’ Under 18 side. The 18 year old winger who signed scholarship forms with Spurs in the summer of 2019, made his competitive Under 18 debut for Spurs as a substitute against Norwich City in 2019. The Edmonton born footballer who recently signed a new contract with Spurs until 2022, would make 12 Under 18 Premier League South appearances in 2019/20, scoring one goal and registering three assists over the course of that season. However, during the following 2020/21 season Mundle became a really important member of Matt Taylor’s Spurs Under 18 side, making 24 competitive appearances, scoring three goals and registering eight assists. Romaine also featured in competitive competition for the Spurs Under 23 side on three occasions, registering one assist from those three matches. Capable of operating as a winger on either flank, Mundle can also play as a CAM or as a central midfielder. A really creative player who is quick and direct with the ball out on the flanks, the now first year pro who featured for the Spurs first team against Leyton Orient this pre-season, is so reliable on the ball and he rarely loses possession. A player who takes up intelligent forward positions both out wide and in the oppositions penalty area, he is a good passer of the ball and I have always been impressed with his crosses into the box.

A very technical footballer who is really skilful on the ball, the player who has been at Spurs for a long time tracks back and helps out the full-back well also, and he is a real team player. He is capable of beating players for skill alone, and his ability to pick a pass and get a really good amount of assists has made him a really important player for the Spurs Under 18 side over the last couple of seasons. The fact that he has already made his first team debut for Spurs is a really good sign, and it shows how far that Romaine has come and how well that he has done at Under 18 level during his two years of scholarship. I look forward to hopefully seeing Romaine establish himself in the Under 23 side this season, and I wish him all the very best of luck for the season.

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

Spurs’ Under 23’s third friendly of pre-season will see them take on Hastings United FC at the TGS Pilot Field, on Tuesday evening (the game starts at 19:45pm). The match which is a testimonial for Hastings United captain Sam Adams, will be another good test for Wayne Burnett’s Spurs Under 23 side, who have already recorded 6-0 and 4-0 wins over Ramsgate FC and Enfield Town FC respectively during pre-season. During the last game against Enfield Town, Spurs put in an excellent first half performance, with J’Neil Bennett (he has been excellent this pre-season) causing Enfield many problems out on the left flank. Although Enfield improved during the second half Spurs were still comfortably in control of the game. Our opponents on Tuesday – Hastings United play in the Isthmian League South East Division, one tier below Enfield Town. However, it will still be a very good test for the Spurs Under 23 side to play against a senior team. I would like to wish the team all the very best of luck for the match.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Oluwayemi, Lavinier, Muir, Okedina (c), Kyezu, Matthew Craig, Santiago, Mundle, Markanday, Bennett, Etete.

Subs from: Lo-Tutala, Hackett, Cassanova, Michael Craig, Haysman, Robson, Mathurin.

Injured/unavailable: N/A.

Doubtful: N/A.

Previous meeting: N/A.

My score prediction: Spurs 5-0.

My one to watch: Hastings United captain Sam Adams. The match on Tuesday is being played as a testimonial for Sam Adams, who has made 569 appearances for Hastings United.

My piece on Spurs’ skilful and versatile Academy midfielder Yago Santiago:

A technical midfield player who is also versatile, Yago Santiago (18) signed for Spurs during the 2019/20 season from Spanish side RC Celta de Vigo. Santiago made his competitive Under 18 debut for Spurs as a substitute against Southampton in a league game, which Spurs won 2-0 in the September of 2019. Santiago made a further nine league appearances for Spurs at Under 18 level that season (most of his appearances came as a substitute, and he scored one goal). However, during the following 2020/21 season the footballer from Vigo in Spain became an important player for Matt Taylor’s Under 18 side, making 23 competitive appearances for the Spurs Under 18 side. Yago scored three goals and registered five assists for the Spurs Under 18 side last season, and he also made his competitive debut for Wayne Burnett’s Spurs Under 23 side during the same season. Santiago has started the current 2021/22 season with Spurs’ Under 23 side, and the first year pro will now be with Wayne Burnett’s side on a full-time basis. Yago played and started the Under 23’s first two pre-season friendlies against Ramsgate FC and Enfield Town respectively, and he impressed in both of those matches. So what type of player is Yago? Well he is a versatile player who is capable of playing as a four or eight in central midfield, as a CAM or as a winger on either flank. However, after centre-forward Kion Etete had to be substituted in the friendly against Ramsgate, Santiago moved up top.

A midfield player with great balance, in the central areas of the pitch Yago is so slick on the ball and he is a midfield technician who is more than capable of making things happen and creating chances. A good passer of the ball and a player who is quick on his feet, Santiago is an intelligent player who can at times make things look effortless. As a CAM Santiago makes good forward runs off the ball and he also links the play well from that role. He likes to pass the ball forward (he holds onto the ball well) and he is a forward thinking midfield player who is a skilful and tricky player, but he is also a hard worker who helps out the team well. I have been most impressed with Yago whenever I have seen him play out wide, as with his fine pace and skill on the ball he can cause problems for full-backs and also create good chances from wide positions. From that position last season Yago got a good amount of goals and assists, and he showed his potency going forward in an FA Youth Cup fourth round tie against AFC Wimbledon in 2020/21. Playing out on the left flank he influenced the game well and showed some good bursts of pace down the left side of the pitch, while also showing nice skill on the ball. In another Under 18 game against Southampton during the previous 2019/20 season Santiago scored his first goal for the Under 18 side to cap off a fine individual performance in the CAM role, where he showed good composure and skill on the ball and he also linked the play really well.

In the recent pre-season win over Ramsgate Yago Santiago started the match out on the right flank, before later moving up top to play as a centre-forward. Considering that he is not a striker I thought that he did well in that role, and he impressed with his movement off the ball. I look forward to hopefully seeing Yago play Under 23 football on a regular basis this season and I wish him all the very best of luck for 2021/22.