Reduced to 10 men in Friday night’s opener against Danish side FC Midtjylland, we slipped to a 1-0 defeat, but seemed to get ourselves back on the right track with a victory by the same scoreline over Dutch outfit SC Heerenveen on Saturday morning.
However, playing 50-minute games in an intense tournament environment, we came unstuck in the third and final group match against Atletico Paranaense of Brazil and lost 3-1 – a result that left us third in the final standings. We’ll now face Club Brugge of Belgium – third in the other group – in the fifth place play-off on Sunday (12pm UK time).
“It’s come at the end of a long, hard season and it showed at times over the first couple of days,” said coach Scott Parker. “It’s a tough tournament but we’ve looked a little bit jaded and lacked our usual quality at times. It’s a tough format – the first goal is crucial in these 50-minute games and we’ve found it pretty difficult.”
One plus point has been the return of defender Brooklyn Lyons-Foster, who has been sidelined through injury since the Under-18 League Cup Final in mid-March. He’s completed all 50 minutes in two of our three games thus far.
“It’s a big positive for Brook, coming back from such a long time out, and he’s had a good tournament so far,” added Scott. “Troy Parrott up front has stood out as well, so it’s been pleasing for those boys.”
We conceded after 10 minutes in the opening match against Midtjylland and our task was made all the more difficult when midfielder Dylan Duncan was harshly shown a straight red card for a challenge 11 minutes from time.
Having lost that first game 1-0, we looked more comfortable against Heerenveen but saw a chance to take the lead go begging on 34 minutes when Reo Griffiths’ penalty was saved after Shilow Tracey was fouled in the box. However, three minutes later, we grabbed the game’s only goal when Tracey whipped across the face of goal and striker Parrott darted between two defenders to finish from close range.
A frustrating 3-1 defeat to Paranaense closed out Saturday’s action – but it could have been a different story. After conceding on 19 minutes, we drew level four minutes into the second half when Oliver Skipp was pushed in the back in the area and Kazaiah Sterling fired the resulting penalty in off the post.
However, we couldn’t find our attacking rhythm and fell behind to a penalty with 10 minutes left, George Marsh adjudged to have committed the foul. Sterling then had a big penalty shout waved away but, as we pushed forward in search of a late leveller, Paranaense took advantage of a mistake at the back to compound our misery two minutes into added time.
Friday 25 May
FC Midtjylland 1-0 Spurs
De Bie, Tainio, Brown, Hinds (Parrott 36), Marsh, Lyons-Foster, Griffiths, Duncan, Sterling, Roles (Tracey 25), S Shashoua (P Maghoma 34).
Saturday 26 May
Spurs 1-0 SC Heerenveen
De Bie, Tainio, Brown, Marsh, Skipp, Hinds, Thorpe (Tracey 25), P Maghoma (Roles 40), Griffiths, Parrott, Patterson (S Shashoua 34).
Spurs 1-3 Atletico Paranaense
De Bie, Tracey (Roles 37), Brown (Patterson 42), Skipp, Marsh, Lyons-Foster, Griffiths, Duncan, Sterling, Parrott, P Maghoma (Tainio 25).