Striker Griffiths converted a penalty three minutes into the second half to cancel out an overhead kick from Saints right-back Kayne Ramsay in a game watched by one of our all-time greats, 1961 Double winner Cliff Jones.
We had our own way more than Southampton over the course of the 90 minutes with some good building from the back, but the visitors’ packed defence limited our shooting chances and, in truth, our captain Jonathan De Bie was the busier goalkeeper.
A late chance deflected onto our crossbar off central defender Maxwell Statham, who was singled out for praise by coach Scott Parker afterwards, while Phoenix Patterson shot straight at Adam Parkes in the Saints’ goal as the teams traded counter-attacks during the closing moments – perhaps our best chance to snatch victory.
The rain made for tricky conditions with many players losing their footing in the first half. De Bie saved from Jonathan Afolabi and then palmed Sean Brennan’s long-range strike over the bar, with Harry Hamblin nodding wide from the resulting corner as Southampton had the better chances early on, despite some slick midfield play from us.
The visitors took the lead from another corner on 19 minutes. De Bie was crowded out as he tried to come for Jake Vokins’ delivery and the ball was touched on to Ramsay, who adjusted his body to fashion a shot over his head and inside the far post, with one leg still planted to the floor.
Paris Maghoma curled off-target following a well-worked corner routine and Griffiths dragged across goal but wide after being played in by Patterson, but we weren’t posing enough of a threat to Parkes’ goal, with De Bie tipping wide from Kornelius Hansen shortly before the interval.
Above: Jamie Reynolds wins a header.
Thankfully, we found an equaliser less than three minutes into the second half. Jneil Bennett picked out Griffiths on the six-yard line from the right and he was impeded from behind by Saints skipper Christoph Klarer, with the referee immediately awarding us a penalty. Up stepped Griffiths to level with a cool finish.
Tariq Hinds saw a good solo run come to nothing when his dangerous ball across from the right sailed wide of the far post, while Brooklyn Lyons-Foster got a vital touch to stop the speedy Hansen from going clean through on the counter for Southampton.
There was a let-off seven minutes from time when defender Statham accidentally diverted a high ball into the box onto the crossbar, with De Bie staying composed to make a good save from Taymar Fleary on the follow-up.
The game settled into a pattern of both teams trading forward runs and then turning possession over in the latter stages, but we had two chances in stoppage time to nick it. First, Maghoma’s shot was blocked before an opportunity opened up for Patterson with 94 minutes gone, but his fierce strike was straight at Parkes.
COACH SCOTT PARKER SAID
“I wouldn’t say it was an even game – I thought we dominated. In the first half we had the possession but never really created anything. We spoke about that at half-time. They came and set up with a shape that was quite defensive and looked to try to hit us on the counter, but although we had a lot of the ball, we never really caused them any problems. Obviously we tried to address that in the second half and I thought to be honest, the lads in the second half were brilliant. Penetrating them a little bit more, creating opportunities – it was exactly what we called for and on another day maybe you could win the game.
“We had a couple of opportunities late on – Paris Maghoma and then Phoenix had a massive chance at the end, but in the second half it felt like the way we want it to look and I was pleased with the boys overall. I thought Maxwell Statham did well, he was a little bit slow to get into the game but in the second half, him and Brook Lyons-Foster were very good. Southampton were always going to cause us some problems on the counter and there were a few lads out there who did well, but those two were pleasing.”
Spurs U18s: De Bie (c), Hinds, Reynolds, Bowden, Statham, Lyons-Foster, Richards (Clarke 80), P Maghoma, Griffiths, Patterson, Bennett (Markanday 70). Substitutes (not used): Kurylowicz, A Shashoua, Okedina.
The postponement of next weekend’s league trip to Aston Villa means the next outing for our Under-18s is at home to Chelsea in the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup on Tuesday 13 February. We’ve lost out to our London rivals in the semi-finals of the competition twice in the last three seasons, including a crushing defeat last term, but a 4-4 draw between the sides in the league earlier this campaign means the stage is set for another dramatic showdown at Stevenage’s Lamex Stadium. Kick-off will be at 7pm and tickets are available either on the night, or via Stevenage’s ticketing website.