Spurs 1-2 Norwich U21s
Report from the Lane
11 March 2016|Tottenham Hotspur
Will Miller’s late strike set up a grandstand finish, but it wasn’t to be for our 10-man Under-21s as we lost 2-1 against Norwich City at White Hart Lane on Friday night (March 11).
In a battle of two out-of-form sides in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League, neither of which had won in the competition since November, we came up short as first-half goals from Jamal Lewis and Ray Grant proved enough for the Canaries to escape with the points.
Our cause wasn’t helped by the dismissal of captain Kyle Walker-Peters towards the end of the second half after he picked up two yellow cards in the space of 45 seconds but we still managed to find a breakthrough when Miller finished emphatically in the 88th minute after good work from substitute Marcus Edwards to force a save from visiting goalkeeper Jake Kean.
That was as good as it got, though, and we were empty-handed when the final whistle sounded.
Quite how the opening goal didn't go our way remains a mystery as Emmanuel Sonupe's low drive from distance was spilled by Kean with Miller dashing in to pick up the pieces but, with his back to goal, he could only hook the ball over the open net with his left foot as he turned in the area with four minutes on the clock.
Less than 30 seconds later the deadlock was indeed broken – but at the other end. Grant picked out the run of Lewis and he rolled the ball low past Tom McDermott in goal from the left angle.
Benny Ashley-Seal then prodded wide on the volley after a looping ball in from the right, although the flag was up anyway, while Anthony Georgiou and Luke Amos had shots charged down as we looked to respond.
If anything, we looked at our most dangerous on the counter-attack in the opening quarter of the game with Georgiou and Zenon Styliandes both working hard down the left side, but the occasional diagonal ball to Sonupe on the opposite flank fell on deaf ears.
Norwich were gifted an opening on 25 minutes when a miscued McDermott clearance quickly found its way back in to Ashley-Seal in the box but, as he tried to get the ball out from under his feet, Christian Maghoma nipped in to take control and bring it clear.
Matters got worse for us on 37 minutes when Grant curled a free-kick over the wall and low inside the near post after Filip Lesniak brought marauding full-back Reece Hall-Johnson down 20 yards out.
Miller took the initiative as we approached half-time, collecting the ball and driving forward with purpose on a couple of occasions – the first almost leading to a goal on 42 minutes. He laid the ball off to Amos who in turn found Sonupe on the right, he was twice denied by left-back Arinse Uade who got blocks in but, after the second one went behind for a corner, the flag kick was taken short and Sonupe drove a dangerous low ball across the face of goal from the right but nobody was able to steer it home.
We made a change at the break as midfielder Marcus Edwards replaced Maghoma with Lesniak dropping in at centre-half, but it took 20 minutes for either side to have a real shot at goal. That was when Norwich’s Glenn Middleton teed up Grant to try a curler from the edge of the box but his effort sailed wide.
Five minutes later, Ebou Adams fired one towards goal from 25 yards but it was straight at McDermott and easy for the custodian to gather.
At the other end, Walker-Peters sent in a menacing low ball from the right which was turned away by Hall-Johnson before the Canaries went close to a third on 77 minutes when Ashley-Seal latched onto a through ball and fired beyond the advancing McDermott, but his effort crashed off the post.
Two minutes later we were reduced to 10 men as Walker-Peters was adjudged to have fouled Adams and, having been booked less than 45 seconds earlier, was shown a second yellow card and subsequent red.
McDermott then made two key saves in two minutes to deny Canaries substitute Louis McIntosh, first turning his low shot beyond the far post and then standing tall at his near post to block a fierce drive from the midfielder seven minutes from time.
We were thrown a lifeline on 88 minutes, though, when Edwards drove down the right and forced a save from Kean, with Miller quick to latch onto the rebound and strike home from eight yards.
Five minutes of stoppage time followed but neither goalkeeper was really troubled and Norwich claimed the points.
Ugo Ehiogu said
“Unfortunately we were second best on the night,” reflected Under-21s Coach Ugo as he summed up the performance. “The biggest thing was that we didn’t play like we know we can – there was no penetration, not enough control and not enough passes strung together.
“In the last 10 minutes we had a go, scored, but it’s an extremely disappointing day at the office. We’re privileged to play at White Hart Lane in front of the fans, but it’s disappointing for the boys because we didn’t respond and we couldn’t find that extra level.
“The boys have worked hard, they’re an honest bunch but we weren’t smart enough when it came to a competitive battle against our opponents and we came out second best.”
“We looked more of a threat after the break and Marcus has made an impact when he’s come on. There’s still some off-the-ball work that Marcus needs to do but that’s an ongoing project for him. He had an effect on the game but I think that’s probably just a quarter of what he’s capable of.
“It’s got to be a big learning curve for the boys tonight. We go again, though. The players have got to get rid of the disappointment and try to find another level of performance.”
Spurs U21s: McDermott, Walker-Peters, Stylianides (Goddard 78), Lesniak, Walkes, Maghoma (Edwards 46), Sonupe, Amos, Miller, J Pritchard (Loft 54), Georgiou. Substitute (not used): Whiteman (GK).
Norwich City U21s: Kean, Hall-Johnson (c), Uade, Grant, Crowe, Efete, Middleton, Adams, Ashley-Seal, Eaton-Collins (McIntosh 46), Lewis. Substitutes (not used): Coker, Ramsay, Awuah, Beauchamp (GK).