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Lads clinch title at Lane

Posted on 10 May 2009  - 12:00

Our Under-18s claimed the FA Premier Academy League Group B title with a 2-1 victory over Watford in front of 5,034 people at White Hart Lane.

Lads clinch title at Lane

Our Under-18s claimed the FA Premier Academy League Group B title with a 2-1 victory over Watford in front of 5,034 people at White Hart Lane.

It means Alex Inglethorpe's men become the first since our Under-17 side of 2002 to record such an achievement.

We now progress to the Finals to take on the three other group winners, first facing Sunderland in a one-off semi-final for the right to face either Arsenal or Manchester City in the Final.

Two Ryan Mason goals saw off Watford on the night, although we rode our luck at times in taking the three points.

The squad was boosted by the return of striker Jon Obika and winger Andros Townsend after their successful loan spells at Yeovil Town. Both went straight into the starting line-up.

This was the Under-18s' third appearance at our famous stadium this season, following two previous FA Youth Cup outings. And the confidence was there for all to see from the off.

Not even a minute had gone when Mason played in Nathan Byrne. Perhaps even he was not expecting such a good chance so early on, and he screwed his shot wide.

But we did not have to wait long for our next opening to come, and when it did, Mason made no mistake.

This time, it was Byrne who teed him up on the edge of the box, and this season's top scorer showed great technique in hitting a low volley past the visiting goalkeeper.

It was Mason's 27th goal in 29 games this season, and his first half performance shows why he is so highly thought of by all at the Club.

On four minutes, he collected a long ball from Calum Butcher, turned on the edge of the box, and shot against the post.

And when Townsend was upended in the box by goalkeeper Botond Antal on 11 minutes, there was only one man who was going to step up.

Mason showed all the composure in the world to slot home and seemingly put the game out of sight with not even a quarter of an hour gone.

But despite having the lion's share of possession, we did not increase our lead and, on the half hour mark, Watford scored out of nothing.

Matthew Wichelow made a strong run into the box from the right hand side and curled a shot beyond Oscar Jansson.

It was a shock to the system for us and a real confidence boost for the visitors who then enjoyed their best spell of the game.

The Hornets had penalty appeals turned down just a minute after their goal when it was claimed Marvin Sordell's cross hit the arm of Steven Caulker in the box.

And it was Sordell who forced Jansson into his first big save, with a well hit shot from the edge of the box that our goalkeeper had to dive at full stretch to stop.

However, towards the end of the first half, we regained the initiative. Mason caught Cole Penny in possession and played in Obika, who shot straight at Antal on 41 minutes.

Then Townsend got the better of Adam Thompson down the left hand side and put in a low cross, which Byrne reached with a diving header six yards out that flew over.

Into the second half, and we continued to press. Mason played the ball into Obika with his back to goal, who teed it up in the box for Adam Smith to volley on the run, and Antal did well to tip over.

But Watford were far from out of it, and again, they came on strong in the middle period of the half.

It needed Smith to carry out his defensive duties at the other end when he cleared off the line from Sordell on 59 minutes.

And there was little anyone could do on 64 minutes when Piero Mingoia and Wichelow linked up in the box after a short corner, and the latter clattered a shot against the bar.

But the best chance of an equaliser came on 73 minutes. Mingoia got down the right hand side and hit an inch-perfect cross first time, which Sordell failed to connect with at point-blank range.

We certainly needed to alleviate the pressure, and we managed this with another strong finish to the half after weathering the Watford storm.

Our best move of the match came 15 minutes from time, when Mason hit a cross-field ball for Smith, whose first time cross was met by Townsend on the volley, and Antal saved well.

Townsend had another run and shot late on that was saved, but we had done just about enough to seal a magnificent achievement.

Spurs (4-4-1-1): Jansson; Smith, Caulker, Butcher, Cox; Byrne, Parrett, Kasim (Kane, 81), Townsend; Mason; Obika
Subs not used: Butler, Nicholson, Ekim, Carroll

Watford (4-4-1-1) Antal; Thompson, Lavers, Hodson, Angus; Bryan, Penny (Isaac, 56), Brooks, Mingoia (Massey, 86); Wichelow; Sordell
Subs not used: Bond, Oshodi, Fenwick