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Spurs 4-2 Derby (PL2) - report from Hotspur Way

Sat 07 April 2018, 14:52|Tottenham Hotspur

Our Under-23s took a huge step towards securing Premier League 2 survival with a 4-2 victory in a crunch match against Derby County at Hotspur Way on Saturday lunchtime.

Following basement side Manchester United’s win against second-bottom Sunderland on Friday night, Wayne Burnett’s troops knew three points against the Rams would put them four points and a superior goal difference clear of the drop zone with two games remaining.

We seemed on course to make that happen when Joe Pritchard added to Lee Buchanan’s early own goal to put us 2-0 up inside 11 minutes.

But two goals in three minutes from Derby striker Cameron Cresswell levelled things up during a frantic opening spell, before Anthony Georgiou’s long-range strike restored our lead just after the half-hour mark.

It stayed 3-2 for much of the game but while we were clearly in control, we didn’t test Derby goalkeeper Joshua Barnes enough and were always wary of conceding at the other end.

Thankfully, the Rams couldn’t create anything meaningful themselves apart from a couple of angled drives across goal from the right and when Kazaiah Sterling was upended in the box deep in stoppage time, the striker converted from the spot to finally make the game safe.

We’ve now won four and drawn two of our last six Premier League 2 matches and leapfrogged Derby as a result of Saturday’s contest, with tricky games away to Chelsea and at home to Manchester City still to come.

Key action

Goal: Spurs 1-0 Derby – Lee Buchanan (own goal) – 9mins
After a lively start in which Pritchard’s good half-volley was deflected wide, we were gifted a ninth-minute lead. Defender Buchanan passed back to goalkeeper Barnes but with Sterling rapidly closing him down, the ball squirmed between the feet of the keeper, who scrambled back in vain to try to keep it out, only turning it up into the top corner after it had crossed the line.

Goal: Spurs 2-0 Derby – Joe Pritchard – 11mins
It was 2-0 just two minutes later as the lively Pritchard latched onto Keanan Bennetts’ pass down the left and produced a great finish from the angle.

Goal: Spurs 2-1 Derby – Cameron Cresswell – 16mins
Had we managed to hold onto our two-goal lead, you sensed we’d have gone on to win the game comfortably, but some sloppy play at the back allowed the visitors back into it. Derby worked the ball in to the feet of Cresswell, who swept low into the corner with players all around him in the box.

Above: Joe Pritchard in action.

Goal: Spurs 2-2 Derby – Cameron Cresswell – 18mins
Quick as a flash, our early good work was undone when Cresswell doubled his tally to haul his side back level. The equaliser was created by ex-Arsenal winger AJ Eyoma – the older brother of our right-back TJ Eyoma. The pair found themselves on opposing sides once again, having coincidentally played against each other in our last Premier League 2 outing against the Gunners almost a month ago, but on this occasion the older Eyoma got forward and played a disguised pass in to the feet of Cresswell, who converted from the right angle of the penalty box.

Goal: Spurs 3-2 Derby – Anthony Georgiou – 31mins
Thankfully, we were able to regain the upper hand just beyond the half-hour mark. Pritchard, out on the right near the corner flag, picked out Georgiou with a sweeping cross-field ball and the winger took aim on his left foot before pinging low into the net from some 25 yards out. Jason Knight might have snatched another leveller for Derby on the stroke of half-time, but Alfie Whiteman got down to his right to tip the shot away.

Woodwork: Tracey close out of nothing – 70mins
AJ Eyoma drove a couple of dangerous balls across from the right for Derby but nobody in fluorescent green could capitalise, while a swirling breeze made aerial challenges and clearances quite unpredictable. Japhet Tanganga and George Marsh made important blocks before Shilow Tracey dug a shot out from beside his body, 25 yards from goal, and hit the base of the far post – a good strike with few options available to him. Tracey was in determined mood, often winning the ball high up the pitch, and four minutes later he fired at goal from the right angle, with Barnes scrambling back to gather on his line after his initial save took the sting out of the shot.

Goal: Spurs 4-2 Derby – Kazaiah Sterling (penalty) – 90+3mins
Pritchard slid in to deflect AJ Eyoma’s shot behind while Jason Knight lashed wide at the back post following a 90th-minute corner, but any lingering doubts were put to rest in added time when Sterling was fouled by substitute Jayden Mitchell-Lawson down the left side of the area and the striker picked himself up to send Barnes the wrong way from 12 yards.

Coach Wayne Burnett said

“It’s a very important result. It was a difficult game but I’m delighted that it’s three points that we very much needed. It’s interesting when you work with young players – sometimes they have to understand the importance of the basics that are needed to win football matches. We’ve scored first a lot this season, we were 2-0 up, we needed to take control of the game which we didn’t do and they got back into it. The goal for 3-2 gave us a little bit of a boost, it was important and the result was very good in the end, but the performance wasn’t so good. The players are aware of that. At this stage of the season when you’re fighting for points, the result is key, but we can’t lose sight of the fact that we want to perform as well as win.”

Match data

Spurs: Whiteman, Eyoma, Georgiou (Brown 62), Marsh, C Maghoma (c), Tanganga, Tracey, Oakley-Boothe, Sterling, Pritchard (Duncan 84), Bennetts (Griffiths 77). Substitutes (not used): Austin, Roles.

Derby County: Barnes, Bateman, Sibley, Bird, Wassall, Buchanan, Eyoma (Mitchell-Lawson 84), Babos (c), Cresswell, Wilson (Walker 72), Knight. Substitutes (not used): Yates, Karic, Taylor.

Goals: Spurs – Buchanan (OG) 9, Pritchard 11, Georgiou 31, Sterling 90+3 (pen); Derby – Cresswell 16, 18.

Yellow cards: Spurs – Marsh 63, Tracey 69; Derby – Eyoma 62.

Referee: Sam Purkiss.

Up next

Our Under-23s travel to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea on Friday night (kick-off 7.05pm) in the penultimate game of the Premier League 2 season. We’ve found it tough going against the Blues in recent years, but victory in the London derby would rubber-stamp our survival with a game to spare.