Midfielder Duncan got his reward for a strong performance in a really hard-fought game at the Foxes’ training ground when he swept inside the near post with 84 minutes on the watch.
But Leicester attacked straight from kick-off and got themselves level through Harvey Barnes and with no further chances in the closing moments it ended with honours even in our first match back in the UK after the recent Copa Chivas tournament campaign in Mexico.
At the back there was a first league appearance since September for young centre-half Joy Mukena and he produced a solid performance alongside skipper Japhet Tanganga – notably getting his head to a couple of early free-kicks from Toby Fura as the Leicester man demonstrated his ability to deliver menacing crosses into the box.
Opportunities were few and far between in the opening stages as both sides sought to stamp their authority on the game, but there was nearly a chance for the hosts on 18 minutes when Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall released Josh Eppiah into the left channel and he went surging forward with only Mukena (pictured, below) for company. The defender kept up with him, though, and after a heavy touch from the Leicester attacker the ball ran harmlessly behind.
Tanganga produced an important defensive header to thwart the Foxes’ next attack, while our first real shooting chance fell to Duncan on 21 minutes when he was set up by Marcus Edwards at the edge of the box – his shot taking a slight deflection as it whistled just past the post.
A minute later, Edwards was involved again as he floated in a cross and Tanganga leapt high into the air but headed just wide.
Barnes must have been left wondering how he didn’t give his side the lead on 33 minutes when he had three attempts at goal from close range in quick succession but couldn’t find a way past goalkeeper Tom McDermott. After Joe Muscatt slipped in the box, Barnes ran onto the loose ball at the back post and tried a low shot that was blocked by McDermott’s foot, the attacker then hit the top of the near post from the rebound before drilling powerfully towards goal once more – only to see McDermott bravely get in the way to deny him the opener.
Edwards sent a free-kick over the bar at the other end, while a great high-pressing spell in first half stoppage time ended with Zenon Stylianides shooting wide of the near post from the left side.
The introduction of Ryan Loft at half-time gave us more of a physical presence up front and he worked hard to get on the ball and drive us forward, but Leicester had the first chance of the second period when Elliott Percival’s cross from the right was headed upwards at the back post by Chris Paul, with Michael Kelly volleying the falling ball over the top.
Muscatt then intervened with a great block to thwart Fura with a fierce shot at the edge of the box, while a period of pressure from the hosts on the hour mark saw Josh Knight curl over the crossbar.
Two minutes later, Lamine Kaba-Sherrif drilled through the crowd from the edge of the box after we half-cleared a corner but his shot flew wide, while Kairo Mitchell was also off target from 16 yards as Leicester made a concerted effort to find the breakthrough.
We weathered that storm, though, and after changes were made by both sides, our hard work was rewarded on 84 minutes with the opening goal. There was a scramble in the box with substitute Jack Roles in the thick of the action before the ball ran loose for Duncan to smash inside the near post.
Unfortunately, our joy was short-lived as Leicester attacked straight from kick-off and within 13 seconds they were level as Barnes fired low across McDermott and into the far corner from the edge of the box on the right.
Neither side really looked like getting a winner after that and the points were shared.
Spurs U18s: McDermott, Paul, Muscatt (Brown 70), Owens, Mukena, Tanganga (c), Edwards (Roles 70), Stylianides, Sterling (Loft 46), Duncan, Bennetts. Substitute (not used): Whiteman (GK).