After falling behind to a fine strike from Morgan Brown early on, we were quickly back on level terms as Reo Griffiths pressured goalkeeper Adam Harrison into skewing his clearance straight at him with the ball ricocheting back into the net.
But from there we struggled to unpick a heavily-manned Leicester defence and despite producing some nice, patient build-up play around the visitors’ 18-yard box we couldn’t forge ahead.
Kazaiah Sterling – on fire in the FA Youth Cup against Norwich City last week – and Griffiths were both denied by Harrison, Keanan Bennetts hit the post but strayed off-side before our best chance to win it came and went on 81 minutes, Sterling’s header sailing over the committed Harrison but bouncing off the top of the crossbar.
There were six changes from the side that beat the Canaries last Thursday including a first start for Juan Pablo Gonzalez-Velasco but we were undone after six minutes when Calvin Ughelumba outstripped the Colombian youngster down Leicester’s left and whipped the ball in low for Brown, who struck a first-time shot into the net from just inside the area.
We were back level three minutes later, though, as keeper Harrison’s kick was charged down by Griffiths and flew into the net.
The Foxes were a threat on the counter-attack with some rapid running in behind, Cal Templeton steered a header wide from a corner following a good intervening tackle by Dylan Duncan and Tom Fielding fired straight at goalkeeper Brandon Austin as half-time approached.
Above: Japhet Tanganga wins a header.
We almost grabbed the lead just seconds before the interval when Griffiths’ shot was saved by Harrison and Samuel Shashoua’s effort was cleared off the line by Templeton but we hadn’t quite been able to muster the tempo to stretch the Foxes in the opening period.
We carved out more openings for ourselves after the break but just couldn’t add the finishing touch. Sterling’s low shot was blocked by the legs of Harrison, who then hurled himself low down to his right to palm away Griffiths’ well-struck left-footed effort on 64 minutes following good work from Nick Tsaroulla – on as a substitute and looking to cause the visitors problems in central midfield.
Austin was largely untroubled at the other end as Leicester’s searching balls forward were swept up by our defenders with another near miss for us coming 13 minutes from time as Bennetts crept in behind the defence after a sustained period of pressure, only to see the assistant referee’s flag go up as his shot cannoned off the far post.
We went closer still on 81 minutes when the energetic Duncan, tenacious as ever in the centre, drifted out to the left and curled in a cross for Sterling. His header flew over the onrushing goalkeeper but hit the crossbar and went behind – our last chance of the game.
JOHN MCDERMOTT, HEAD OF PLAYER DEVELOPMENT, SAID
“It’s been a real pleasure to be working with this group for the last couple of months where you just think it’s clicked and the boys are starting to move towards what it’s like to be professional footballers, really work hard and have an elite mentality but today I thought we slipped. We slipped in the first half in terms of our intensity, our passion, our emotion and the speed at which we did things. We conceded a goal and I thought we were chasing the game. Our intensity was better in the second half but we just lacked a little bit of quality. The second half was honest but the first half didn’t have the intent that a Tottenham team should have, nor that we’ve had recently.
“You could say there were a lot of changes but I look at the team and say there were some great opportunities there – for the boys who didn’t start last week to come in and stake a claim for the forthcoming games and also for the five of them who have more experience to lead a little bit and maybe help some of the more inexperienced players through. I’m not really having (the excuse) that there were six changes – we should have played better, our mentality should have been better and we should have won the game. I’m sure that it’s a blip. We all have bad days at work and I’ll put it down to that but for any of us, whether it’s for staff or players, that first 45 minutes was unacceptable for the standards that we set.”
Spurs U18s: Austin, Hinds, Brown, Omolabi (Tsaroulla 58), Tanganga (c), Dinzeyi (Lock 83), Gonzalez-Velasco (Bennetts 58), Duncan, Griffiths, Sterling, Shashoua. Substitutes (not used): Reynolds, Freeman (GK).
We’re back in Under-18 Premier League action on Saturday with a trip to Brighton & Hove Albion, kick-off 11.30am.
JONATHAN DE BIE
Following an injury to his spleen sustained by Under-18s goalkeeper Jonathan De Bie on international duty for Belgium Under-17s in France last week, John McDermott said: “I’ve just been with Mauricio Pochettino and Hugo Lloris – they were both asking about Jonathan. Everyone has been concerned and everyone sends their best wishes to him. In a very short period of time he’s made a big impact here, he’s got a lot of friends and a lot of people who respect him as a footballer and as a person. He has huge levels of support and there are a lot of people thinking about him and his family during this period.
“I’ve been in communication with him over the past few days and he’s slowly getting better. Thankfully the medical care that he’s been getting has been really good. Our doctor has gone across to see him so hopefully he will be going back to Belgium quite soon but I’m not going to put any time-frame on when he’s going to come back. It’s a shame but I’m not surprised with the circumstances – Jonathan is a real tough character and for him to play on as he did is not surprising. He’s incredibly brave and tough with the way he plays and the way he’s been since he came to England last year. He’s a terrific young man and I’m sure now that he’s going to be on a slow road to recovery but I’ve got no doubt that with his personality and desire, he’s going to be able to deal with the situation that he’s in and come back even stronger.”