Striker Reo Griffiths led the way with a brace while defensive player Moroyin Omolabi opened his Under-18 Premier League account in sumptuous style as we downed West Ham United 3-1 at the Training Centre.
Griffiths scored either side of the break before we gifted the Hammers a route back into the game, Bernardo Rosa obliging after a defensive error to thump past goalkeeper Jonathan De Bie.
But within minutes our two-goal lead was restored as Omolabi met a corner with a sweetly-struck volley to make the game safe and secure our first league victory at this level in three attempts.
West Ham’s Ros Harvey went close from long-range while De Bie collected a couple of tame attempts in the early stages but it took us 28 minutes to really threaten the visitors’ goal – and that in turn led to the opener. Jeremie Mukendi crossed from the right, Griffiths took a touch at the near post and initially got the ball stuck under his feet, but managed to adjust his body to convert from the angle.
De Bie made an excellent save five minutes later, diving low to his right to tip ex-Ajax youngster Anouar El Mhassani’s drive onto the post and away. At the other end, Jamie Reynolds’ mis-hit cross curled onto the top of the bar while defender Josh Okotcha slid in to deny Griffiths another goalscoring opportunity in the Hammers’ box.
Above: Phoenix Patterson in action.
Five minutes before the break, midfielder Paris Maghoma curled a free-kick onto the upright, but he was unable to continue in the second half and was replaced by Maxi Tainio, son of 2008 League Cup winner Teemu, on for his debut.
Phoenix Patterson squandered a one-on-one opportunity when he fired straight at Hammers goalkeeper Rihards Matrevics just after the resumption but Griffiths spared his blushes when his shot from just inside the area took a deflection and wrong-footed the custodian to double our lead on 52 minutes.
Patterson then forced Matrevics into action again from a free-kick before some sloppy passing around at the back allowed Rosa to gleefully run onto the ball and fire West Ham back into the contest with 21 minutes remaining.
Three minutes later, though, an exquisite strike from Omolabi sealed the deal. Patterson’s corner curled towards him and the 17-year-old ran onto it, burying the ball past Matrevics with a right-footed volley from 12 yards out.
The visitors did muster a couple of late chances, Ben Johnson firing just wide from distance and Manny Longelo’s drive bouncing down off the crossbar following another calamitous moment at the back, but we saw out the victory.
COACH SCOTT PARKER SAID
“We’re pleased with the win. The game was good in spells – we started quite slowly, after that we got the goal and played some nice bits but then the second half was a bit up and down. There were certain parts that were nine out of 10 and other parts that were two out of 10. I suppose that’s youth team football at the moment but it’s about trying to get that consistency.
“As happy as I am with the result, the way we played, it wasn’t us at times but coming off the back of two bad results it was good to get the win. It was a very good finish from Moroyin, Reo took his goals well so there were some pleasing performances but there are plenty of things to learn so we keep going.”
Spurs U18s: De Bie (c), Lock, Reynolds, Hinds, Lyons-Foster, Omolabi, Mukendi (Pochettino 73), P Maghoma (Tainio 46), Griffiths, A Shashoua (Richards 65), Patterson. Substitutes (not used): Freeman, Statham.
Some of our young Academy starlets must now step up and show what they’re made of on the big stage as we head to Real Madrid for a UEFA Youth League clash on Tuesday (kick-off 5pm UK time). Our next Under-18 Premier League outing follows next Saturday as coach Scott Parker pits his charges against former club Fulham, kick-off 11am.