After a dominant first-half performance, we went in 3-1 up at the interval thanks to Reo Griffiths’ penalty, TJ Eyoma’s header and an own goal from Chelsea’s Marc Guehi, Daishawn Redan netting in reply.
But the Under-18 Premier League leaders, who have only lost one game all season, came at us after the break and we were really up against it at times, being let off the hook by some wayward finishing on a couple of occasions.
In the end, they needed two penalties and a close-range finish following a great save by Jonathan De Bie – all from skipper Conor Gallagher – to avoid defeat and get it back to 4-4 with two minutes of normal time remaining.
Still, we might have found a winner in the dying seconds when Rayan Clarke appeared to be upended inside the box on a rare foray forward for us, but the referee deemed the incident to have occurred just outside the area and instead awarded a free-kick, which sadly came to nothing.
Paris Maghoma had two separate shouts for a penalty waved away, Griffiths and Phoenix Patterson were denied by goalkeeper Nicolas Tie and defender Guehi before we finally broke the deadlock on 17 minutes when Griffiths was fouled by Marcel Lavinier in the area and dusted himself down to score the resulting penalty, despite Tie getting fingertips to it.
It was 2-0 on 25 minutes when TJ Eyoma wasn’t picked up at all on our corner, with the defender making a near-post run and glancing Patterson’s delivery past Tie.
Redan latched onto a long ball down the left and rounded goalkeeper De Bie to pull one back on 32 minutes, but we restored our two-goal cushion five minutes later as J’neill Bennett’s cross forced Guehi to send a flying header into his own net under pressure from centre-forward Griffiths.
We’d dominated the first period but the shoe was on the other foot after the break as Chelsea applied all kinds of pressure. Just three minutes after the resumption, Charlie Brown went to ground under Eyoma’s shoulder-to-shoulder challenge in the box and the referee awarded Chelsea a penalty, which Gallagher clipped down the middle for 3-2.
Above: Paris Maghoma in action against Chelsea.
But back we came four minutes later to grab that two-goal buffer once more, this time Griffiths exchanging passes with Rodel Richards in the box before finishing well from a tight angle on the left.
Chelsea were hammering on the door at the other end and De Bie parried Juan Castillo’s shot out to Gallagher, but his effort was blocked in a congested six-yard box by Eyoma. Brown shot straight at De Bie and Lavinier steered a header just wide before Jamie Reynolds was penalised for a 50-50 challenge on Tariq Lamptey in the area, which he was entitled to go for, and Gallagher scored his second penalty of the game with seven minutes left.
Billy Gilmour whistled a free-kick just off-target before the visitors’ pressure finally told on 88 minutes, Gallagher on hand to drive home for his hat-trick from six yards after De Bie had got down well to deny Castillo.
We weren’t really able to muster any more meaningful attacks until right at the end of stoppage time when Clarke was fouled as he entered the box, but the referee gave us a free-kick right on the edge of the area which Maghoma curled into the danger zone to no avail.
COACH SCOTT PARKER SAID
“It sounds like a cliché but it was probably a game of two halves really. In the first half we dominated and played some lovely bits, deservedly went in 3-1 up but we said to the boys at half-time that they were going to come at us a little bit in the second half and they put us under more pressure. We struggled a little bit in the second half but, in saying that, I still thought we had our little moments. We gifted them a couple of penalties, in fairness they missed a couple of very good chances so at 4-2 with 10 minutes to go we’re disappointed that they got back to 4-4 but it was probably a fair result on the chances created.
“The boys tried to manage the game. It was a London derby, a lot on it, Chelsea have only lost one game this season in the league so it was always going to be a tough game and I’ve got nothing but pride in the boys for how they performed. We’ve picked ourselves up after a really disappointing result against Arsenal two weeks ago and that’s all we’ve asked of them – against Villa last week we were fantastic and again this week we were very good.”
Spurs U18s: De Bie (c), Hinds, Reynolds, Skipp, Eyoma, Lyons-Foster (Clarke 70), Richards, P Maghoma, Griffiths (A Shashoua 75), Patterson (Bowden 88), Bennett. Substitutes (not used): Oluwayemi, Asante.
We take our first steps in this season’s FA Youth Cup on Tuesday night when we host Preston North End at Stevenage’s Lamex Stadium in the third round, kick-off 7pm. The winners of that tie will visit AFC Bournemouth, who beat Hull City 3-0 on Friday night, in round four.