Norwich 5-3 Spurs (U18s) - report from Colney
Wed 11 April 2018, 16:25|Tottenham Hotspur
Reo Griffiths’ third hat-trick of the season wasn’t enough as some costly mistakes at the back saw our Under-18s lose out in a goal-fest at Norwich City on Wednesday lunchtime.
We’d recovered from 1-0 down to lead in the first half but goalkeeper Charlie Freeman endured a difficult first game back in action after missing the entire campaign up until this point through injury.
On the bench for some of our recent matches, he came into the starting line-up at Colney and, along with some of his defenders, will have felt he could have done better on a couple of the Canaries’ goals.
Griffiths, wearing the captain’s armband, tried his best to keep his team-mates afloat by banging in the goals at the other end and rounding off his treble with the goal of the game, a superb strike from long range to make it 3-3.
But his opposite number up front for Norwich, Adam Idah, also helped himself to a hat-trick as the home side took full advantage of our uncharacteristic frailties to claim the points in the Under-18 Premier League.
Griffiths looked a threat up front with his physicality and willingness to shoot from anywhere and should have scored inside two minutes, only to drag across the face of goal and wide. Idah fired Norwich ahead on seven minutes as we gave the ball away cheaply at the back and the striker drilled into the bottom corner.
Freeman made a good save from Saul Milovanovic’s downward header before a big chance came and went for us on 21 minutes. Griffiths outmuscled his marker down the left and cut back for Jeremie Mukendi at the near post, but somehow Norwich left-back Max Aarons got around the back and blocked on the line.
We were threatening down the left with Jamie Reynolds a key part of that with some good balls forward from left-back. And when Rodel Richards picked out Griffiths infield from that flank, the striker turned on the edge of the box and rammed into the far corner on his right foot to draw us level with half-an-hour gone.
Under-16s midfielder Harvey White produced some tidy play in the first half on his debut at this level while Jamie Bowden was also stepping up from centre-back to provide a supply line to our attackers and we took a deserved lead on 42 minutes. Griffith’s attempted pass in the box was blocked by a Norwich hand and the front man gratefully sent goalkeeper Sam Blair the wrong way with the resulting penalty.
Above: Paris Maghoma turns away from danger.
However, the Canaries hit back straight away – a theme that would also continue after half-time. With 43 minutes gone, the ball was played in to the feet of Rosaire Longelo – who played against us for West Ham a fortnight ago – and he produced a sliding finish from the left angle.
It was a burst of three goals in five minutes that really altered the flow of the game in the second half, however. First, Idah squeezed a shot beyond Freeman’s body on 55 minutes, Griffiths then hit back with a 22-yard stunner into the top corner on 57 before substitute Connor Parsons made it 4-3 to Norwich, Freeman again unable to keep his low shot out, with the hour mark just seconds away.
In amongst all that, we suffered a further blow when Reynolds was forced off injured and with the wind in their sails, the Canaries went on to bag a fifth goal on 72 minutes when Idah shrugged off Maxwell Statham down Norwich’s right flank, cut in along the byline and finished well from a tight angle.
Griffiths and Tariq Hinds were both denied by keeper Blair while Statham recovered to make a great goal-saving block to deny Anis Mehmeti, but the damage had already been done.
Coach Scott Parker said
“We didn’t deserve anything out of the game just through the way we defended our own goal. We put some chances away but defensively today we were really poor and I don’t just include the boys at the back and the goalkeeper in that – as a team, defensively we weren’t good enough at times and ultimately that’s what has decided the game.
“Opportunities in football come along and when they do, you’ve got to try to grab them with both hands. Even in more difficult circumstances, in the sense that maybe you’ve not played a lot, you’ve got to perform, so it’s a good learning curve for some of these boys to understand that that’s what’s going to happen in their careers.
“It was a disappointing result and a disappointing performance. It wasn’t at the level we’ve set over the last few months but we go again, we’ve got two games left against two tough opponents in Chelsea and Arsenal. They’ll be tough games and we’ll certainly need to put in a better performance than we did today.”
Spurs U18s: Freeman, Tainio, Reynolds (Hinds 58), White, Statham, Bowden, Pochettino (P Maghoma 68), Mukendi (Thorpe 80), Griffiths (c), Richards, Clarke. Substitute (not used): Oluwayemi (GK).
With Saturday’s scheduled home match against Arsenal having been pushed back to later this month, our next Under-18 Premier League fixture takes place next Wednesday (18 April) with another re-arranged clash away to Chelsea. Kick-off is at 11am at Cobham.