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Academy lads into last four in Holland

Posted on 16 May 2015  - 21:05

Josh Onomah earned praise from our Academy coaching staff for his goalscoring exploits on the second day of the Terborg Tournament in Holland.

Josh OnomahCy Goddard

The young midfielder struck the only goal of the game as we worked hard to gain a 1-0 win over Brazilian side Fluminense on Saturday afternoon, before popping up with two late goals to salvage a 3-3 draw against Dutch outfit AZ Alkmaar in the second match of the day to book our place in the semi-finals as runners-up in the group.

We’ll now face Brazilian side Atletico Mineiro in the last four on Sunday, kick-off 10.50am local time.

After watching the boys earn a win and a draw in 40-minute matches for the second consecutive day at the tournament, Coach Matt Wells saw a number of positives and highlighted the contribution of Onomah as key to our endeavours.

“Today’s first match against Fluminense was the sort of game that epitomises why we bring the boys to these tournaments as we faced a resilient team who were very physical and very game-smart,” he said. “In the first half our style was outstanding and both individually and collectively we put on a very good performance.

“Josh scored an excellent goal on the stroke of half-time which was really pleasing because he’s put a lot of effort in on the training ground on the type of low finish that he produced. That’s something we’ve stressed to him – to shoot a lot lower – and he did that well. Fluminense put a lot of pressure on us in the second half but our defending was excellent and the mentality was superb.

“We went into the second game against AZ Alkmaar needing a point to qualify, but we weren’t happy with the opening to the match. We started slowly and we didn’t create the right atmosphere going into the game.

“We found ourselves 3-1 down and in a precarious position but, credit to the boys, the big players stand up in the big moments and Josh especially has done that with two goals to get us the draw, while there were others as well who showed real fight up until the end. The big message from today is, regardless of circumstances, it’s important to retain our style and impose ourselves individually and collectively on the match.”

The Fluminense fixture was a game of few chances, with both teams defending well. We scored with our first real opportunity on the stroke of half-time with Emmanuel Sonupe sliding in for a tackle and the ball running to Onomah, who swivelled his body and turned the ball into the net.

Goalkeeper Harry Voss was forced into a diving save with 10 minutes remaining as Fluminense pushed for a winner, while defenders Christian Maghoma and Kyle Walker-Peters made vital blocks in the dying seconds as we held onto our 1-0 advantage.

Taking on AZ Alkmaar later in the day, Anthony Georgiou was denied by the opposing goalkeeper from the left angle in the early exchanges before Cy Goddard intercepted possession and fired us ahead with his left foot in the fourth minute.

However, the game was turned around when AZ scored following a counter-attack on 12 minutes before taking the lead three minutes later – their striker finding the net after an initial shot had been blocked by Filip Lesniak.

Shayon Harrison chested Georgiou’s cross down but blazed over the top as we sought a way back into the game, while the same player forced a save from the keeper a few moments later following a good cross from Chris Paul.

Two minutes after half-time, AZ grabbed a third goal with another counter-attack but we continued to battle and pulled a goal back seven minutes later when Ryan Loft teed up Onomah to finish expertly from the edge of the box.

And with five minutes remaining Onomah came up with the goal that sent us into the last four. Harrison met a corner with a glancing header and the ball appeared to be heading behind for a goal-kick. Onomah had other ideas, though, collecting it close to the byline and exhibiting some clever skill before chipping the goalkeeper from a tight angle to complete a 3-3 draw.

Spurs (vs Fluminense): Voss, Walker-Peters, Walkes, Stylianides, Maghoma, Lesniak, Sonupe (Georgiou 27), Winks, Loft (Harrison 35), Onomah, Oduwa (Goddard 39).

Spurs (vs AZ Alkmaar): Voss, Paul (Walker-Peters 20), Muscatt, Owens (Winks 20), Walkes (Maghoma 20), Lesniak, Sonupe (Oduwa 20), Onomah, Harrison, Goddard (Loft 26), Georgiou.

Elsewhere, Ismail Azzaoui was influential for Belgium in their UEFA Under-17 Championship quarter-final victory over Croatia in Bulgaria on Friday. With his side trailing 1-0, Ismail popped up with a second half equaliser and then scored the decisive spot kick as the Red Devils advanced to the semi-finals in a penalty shootout.