Up against the Canaries for the fourth time this season, we notched up a two-goal lead inside half-an-hour, only for the visitors to pull one back straight after the second goal through Bilal Kamal.
Striker Griffiths completed his treble – his first at this level – just beyond the hour mark and although Devonte Aransibia reduced our advantage again from the penalty spot with 20 minutes to go, we saw out the rest of the game well to make it back-to-back wins in the Under-18 Premier League.
In an action-packed game with plenty of chances for both sides, Griffiths netted with our first attempt on target on 23 minutes. Phoenix Patterson won a free-kick outside the box before intelligently slipping the ball to Samuel Shashoua from the set piece, who got in behind the Norwich wall and crossed for Griffiths to convert at the back post.
Moments later, Shashoua roamed down the left and found Tariq Hinds on the overlap who in turn picked out Patterson in the area, but the Norwich goalkeeper made a good stop to deny him.
It was 2-0 on the half-hour mark when Shashoua’s shot was parried into Griffiths’ path and the striker reacted instantly to put it away, but within 60 seconds Norwich had one back. Kamal’s initial shot was blocked by Oliver Skipp at centre-half but the ball fell kindly for him to poke past Brandon Austin at the second time of asking.
Austin pulled off an incredible save from Agust Hlynsson just before the interval, getting down to his left to push the ball away as the Norwich man tried to curl it beyond him from eight yards out.
Griffiths completed his treble on 62 minutes when, after Paris Maghoma picked him out in the box, he controlled on his right foot before firing in with his left.
Back came Norwich, though. Hlynsson was adjudged to have been fouled as he nipped between Dylan Duncan and Matt Lock in the area, with Aransibia blasting high into the net from the resulting penalty with 20 minutes remaining.
But we were determined to see the game out and after substitute Jack Roles got in, only to be denied by an off-side flag, we cleared our lines after a late goalmouth scramble to hold onto our lead and take the points.
JOHN MCDERMOTT, HEAD OF PLAYER DEVELOPMENT, SAID
“If you look at the side, it was a team that’s never played together – a real mix of Under-16s, first-years and second-years against a really well-organised and experienced Norwich team but what we gave away in experience I thought we made up for in effort and style. It was a very good game, a really tough game in the heat but the players were excellent, they showed a real toughness and in the end I thought we deserved the win.
“Reo hasn’t had a full week of training so he’d probably be the first to say he hadn’t had the peak preparation but I thought he epitomised everyone else in the team today, he worked really hard and scored three different but very good goals. From Reo at the front to Brandon Austin, who made a couple of big saves again to maintain our lead, I was pleased. Moroyin Omolabi, playing at centre-half, stood out against their front players who were very good and Paris Maghoma and Phoenix Patterson from the Under-16s will have seen the standards that are expected. There were a lot of positives today and I was very proud of the way we played.
“There were a couple of good opportunities to finish the game off that we didn’t take. That’s the best way of defending a one-goal lead – to take your opportunities to extend it – but at the other end there were some good saves, blocks and a real desire not to concede. Looking at where the first team are now, the bar is really, really high in terms of the standard at the club and I think there will be aspects of this game that the first team staff and players could look at and think ‘that’s the style that these young players are trying to replicate’. As hard as it is, it thought there were some real moments of quality today. We had a friendly in midweek as well so for some it was the third game in eight days and it would have been easy to blame fatigue but the boys over-rode any fatigue or niggles, so that was another reason why I was very pleased.”
Spurs U18s: Austin, Lock Hinds, Oakley-Boothe, Omolabi, Skipp, Patterson (Reynolds 71), P Maghoma (Roles 71), Griffiths, Duncan (c), Shashoua. Substitutes (not used): Gonzalez-Velasco, Freeman (GK).
We return to Under-18 Premier League action in a fortnight’s time with a trip to Finch Farm to take on Everton. Kick-off on Saturday, April 22, will be at 11am.