A first half brace from Nathan Oduwa had us firmly in the driving seat in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League clash, held at the City Football Academy.
But a crazy spell of three goals in as many minutes saw us wastefully relinquish our hold on the game as City drew level – only for Harry Winks to stroll through at the other end and put us back in front before those watching on could draw breath!
Goalkeeper Luke McGee repelled a number of long-range shots throughout the game but he was powerless to prevent the hosts from grabbing a 78th-minute equaliser through the lively Jorge Intima.
Coach Ugo Ehiogu made one change from the side that lost to Sunderland last week, with Kenny McEvoy coming in for Will Miller in a wide attacking role.
Left-back Connor Ogilvie was kept occupied by Intima in the opening stages but it was Oduwa who had the first attempt at goal, his long-range effort flying off target five minutes in.
McGee made his first vital intervention two minutes later, advancing off his line quickly to make a one-on-one block from Kelechi Iheanacho after Manu Garcia played him in, while Oduwa and Josh Onomah went close from a similar position to the left side of the box within a couple of minutes of each other as the end-to-end nature of the game continued.
We grabbed the lead with a well-worked goal on 15 minutes, Filip Lesniak picking out the run of McEvoy down the right with the latter sliding the ball across for Oduwa to nudge home from six yards out.
City might have levelled 12 minutes later with Garcia looking to finish off a slick move that started with Intima and went through Iheanacho before City’s number 10 found himself in a shooting position from a tight angle on the right – but McGee made another key block at his near post with Lesniak tidying up.
The home side went close again on 35 minutes when Iheanacho hammered Aaron Nemane’s low ball in from the left wide of the near post, while Oduwa found the side netting for us after a fine solo run from right-back Kyle Walker-Peters five minutes before the break.
With the home side in search of a route back in the contest, Milos Veljkovic stood up well on a number of occasions, getting in front of his man to make some key interceptions as the half went on.
And that solidity was rewarded on 42 minutes as we extended our lead – McEvoy again gliding down the right and sending in a low centre which Oduwa, in space, ran onto and steered the ball into the corner of the net.
James Horsfield curled just wide as City tried to strike back quickly, while centre-forward Shayon Harrison showed great strength to shake off the attentions of his marker and get a shot away – forcing City stopper Billy O’Brien to parry away.
The home side made a double change at the break and wasted little time in getting themselves back into the game.
McGee tipped Iheanacho’s effort low around the upright for a corner, which Harrison subsequently headed clear at the near post. Garcia picked the ball up on the edge of the box and forced another fine save from our goalkeeper, but Pablo Maffeo was on hand to fire in the rebound on 51 minutes.
It got worse for us within 60 seconds as City drew level, Intima’s low centre from the right being swept home by substitute Jack Byrne.
But the drama continued apace, this time in our favour, as Veljkovic played the ball forward for skipper Winks to round the advancing O’Brien and slot home for 3-2 less than a minute after the hosts had equalised!
Byrne hit the post with a curling shot from left-of-centre two minutes later, while Harrison found himself in with a chance to pull the trigger in City’s area shortly afterwards – only to be denied by O’Brien.
Still the opportunities flowed and it needed a sliding Connor Ogilvie interception to prevent Intima from latching onto Garcia’s dangerous low drive towards the far post three minutes before the hour mark.
Angel Tasende drilled wide for the home side, while a rising 22-yard effort from George Glendon just cleared the crossbar as City pushed for an equaliser, with McGee once again at his best to keep out Byrne’s fierce drive from the edge of the box in the 77th minute.
Our resistance was finally broken in the next passage of play, though, as Tasende’s ball in from the left wasn’t properly dealt with and Intima was on hand to lash home from the right side of the box with 12 minutes remaining.
City were finding a lot of shooting opportunities from 20 yards as the game went on with the confident Byrne driving the latest one through the crowd on 83 minutes, but again McGee was there – spectacularly diving to push the ball over the bar with his fingertips.
For all City’s efforts, we had two good opportunities to regain the lead in the dying moments – first on 86 minutes when Onomah completed a tantalising exchange of passes with Winks in a congested area just outside City’s box and sent Walker-Peters scurrying through between the centre-half and left-back, but the latter’s cross was dealt with and City cleared their lines.
Then, two minutes from time, Winks delivered a low ball in from the left and Harrison got a glancing touch, but it agonisingly flew the wrong side of the far upright as our final chance slipped away.
Manchester City U21s: O'Brien, Drury (Byrne 46), Maffeo, Adarabioyo (Humphreys 46), Tasende, Horsfield (Pozo 67), Intima, Glendon, Iheanacho, Garcia, Nemane. Substitutes (not used): Celina, Gunn (GK).
Spurs U21s: McGee, Walker-Peters, Ogilvie, Lesniak (McEneff 73), Veljkovic, Maghoma, McEvoy, Winks, Harrison, Onomah, Oduwa (Georgiou 61). Substitutes (not used): Carter-Vickers, Miles (GK).