Colin Otudayo grabbed the decisive goal against the run of play in the 21st minute, but we couldn’t turn our dominance of the play into anything meaningful.
In the second half in particular we really imposed ourselves on a powerful Villa side in the centre but when Mason Birch went down in the box under the challenge of Jamie Bowden and the visitors were awarded a penalty, it could have been all over.
Thankfully, goalkeeper Jonathan De Bie saved the midfielder’s spot-kick but it didn’t galvanise us at the opposite end and Villa escaped with maximum points.
Right-back Tariq Hinds was probing away in advanced positions and got himself in behind the visitors’ defence a couple of times but decided to take a shot on himself in the seventh minute and found Villa goalkeeper Mani Idem in the way.
Midfielder Paris Maghoma went close with a flurry of shots – one from a free-kick that was deflected behind, one effort from just inside the area and another from 20 yards which was saved by Idem – but it was Villa who took the lead when Otudayo played in Dimitri Sea, then continued his run to receive the return pass before curling home from inside the box on the left.
Dilan Markanday (pictured, below) was proving difficult for Villa’s defence to handle with the ball at his feet but he saw his deflected shot sail just off-target from 20 yards, while Bowden blasted over following a cut-back from Reo Griffiths.
De Bie saved from Otudayo but we had a big chance to draw level 10 minutes after the interval as Armando Shashoua played in Griffiths down the left side of the area, but his fierce drive was tipped onto his near post by Idem.
Villa could have doubled their advantage on 57 minutes when Bowden challenged Birch from behind and a penalty was awarded but, after dusting himself down, the same player saw his effort saved low down by De Bie.
Maghoma went close for us with a deft first-time shot from just inside the area as we tried to push forward, albeit without creating many clear-cut opportunities. De Bie leapt down low to make another brilliant save from Sea after Mungo Bridge had won a header in the area, but there was to be no way back for us.
ASSISTANT COACH MATT WELLS SAID
“We dominated possession, dominated the territory to a point but unfortunately, as we said at half-time, we didn’t dominate the final third and made a lot of poor decisions in and around Aston Villa’s penalty area. Certainly in the first half we didn’t think we played out well enough in terms of the positions we took up and the spaces we found, we were a little bit slow and lethargic and, as a result, pretty much all of our final-third play was against a very compact defence. If we could have attacked with a little bit more urgency we would have had less defenders to beat and a little bit more space. Although we improved in the second half, unfortunately the final pass just wasn’t quite good enough on the day to get the goal.
“Jonathan De Bie was excellent, I thought he was our best player which tells you a little bit about the game. I didn’t think on the transition we were bright enough to regain the ball and we certainly weren’t bright enough at the back to deal with their striker who was, on the day, better than our centre-halves. For the minimal amount of possession they had in the game, they had far too many chances, which is obviously something we’re very disappointed with.”
Spurs U18s: De Bie (c), Hinds (Richards 71), Reynolds (Statham 60), Bowden, Omolabi, Lyons-Foster, Markanday, P Maghoma, Griffiths, A Shashoua, Patterson. Substitutes (not used): Pochettino, Tainio, Oluwayemi (GK).
We’ve another Under-18 Premier League outing at Reading next Saturday, kick-off 11.30am, but before that we head to Cyprus for the second of our Under-19 UEFA Youth League group stage matches, this time against APOEL. That’s on Tuesday, kick-off 2pm UK time.