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Lads set-up thrilling finale

Posted on 13 May 2009  - 12:00

Our Under-18s produced arguably their best win of the season to beat Sunderland and secure a place in the final of the Premier Academy League play-offs.

Lads set-up thrilling finale

Our Under-18s produced arguably their best win of the season to beat Sunderland and secure a place in the final of the Premier Academy League play-offs.

It promises to be a thrilling climax to the campaign as we take on Arsenal in the final at White Hart Lane this Sunday, May 17. Kick-off time is yet to be confirmed.

Sunderland provided a stern test in the semi-final at the Stadium of Light on Wednesday night.

Beaten just four times in the regular season and with 22 wins in 28 games, the Black Cats won Group C of the PAL by a staggering 22 points from Newcastle United.

Once again though, the lads rose to the occasion.

Lining-up 4-4-2 with Andros Townsend and Danny Rose hugging the touchlines, we took an early grip on the game as Ryan Mason curled just wide and Townsend and Rose both tested home keeper Michael Misiewicz.

Sunderland had three quick chances around the 20-minute mark with the best falling to Liam O'Mahoney - Oscar Jansson got his angles right to block with his legs.

Rose was just off target and Mason had a goalbound effort blocked before the crucial breakthrough in the 39th minute.

Mason's free-kick from 20 yards clearly struck a hand in the defensive wall and a penalty was awarded. Mason, the Academy's top scorer with 29 in all competitions, buried the penalty and we were off and running.

The second goal was only minutes away and a classic on the break. It started when Adam Smith intercepted a pass on the edge of our box and found Townsend. He carried the ball for about 30 yards before playing in Jon Obika on the left.

Obika could have taken the shot on but instead opted to control and lay back for Townsend to drill across Misiewicz and into the far corner.

Sunderland changed things at half-time with the introduction of Ben Wood to support the lively Ryan Noble up front.

The Black Cats remained tidy in possession but we could have put the issue beyond doubt when Obika flicked Rose's cross over from close range in the 52nd minute.

The home side continued to press but had little change out of our defence. Wood toe-poked a decent chance at Jansson and Ryan Noble fired just wide but we remained a threat on the counter-attack, Rose firing over when well placed.

Sunderland found a way back into the game via the penalty spot in the 71st minute when Nathan Byrne was somewhat harshly penalised for a push on Adam Reed. Ryan Noble didn't need a second invitation and found the top corner from the spot for 2-1.

Sunderland piled forward but we were creating the chances. Rose headed into the side-netting in the 79th minute before Dean Parrett was left wondering how Misiewicz managed to keep out his piledriver from 12 yards.

It was heart in mouth time with just over a minute remaining though when Conor Hourihane played a corner out to Liam Noble and the midfielder measured a curler from 25 yards that dipped onto the crossbar and bounced to safety.

Michael Kay dragged a shot wide with 20 seconds left and two minutes of added time passed without concern.

Another night for all Spurs fans to be proud of this Academy group.

Sunderland: Misiewicz, Bagnall, Adams, L Noble, Kay, McArdle, O'Mahoney, Reed, R Noble, Hourihane, Waghorn (Wood, 46). Subs: Wilson, Hunter, Fletcher, Cornforth.

Spurs: Jansson, Smith, Byrne, Butcher, Caulker, Townsend, Cox, Parrett, Rose (M'poku, 81), Mason, Obika. Subs: Butler, Kasim, Ekim, Nicholson.