Spurs U21s 2-2 City U21s
Report from Hotspur Way
18 January 2016|Tottenham Hotspur
Two goals in three first half minutes from Shaq Coulthirst and Emmanuel Sonupe saw our Under-21s draw 2-2 with Manchester City at our Training Centre this afternoon (Monday, January 18).
The pair struck to cancel out Bersant Celina’s opener for City, but some sloppy defending on the edge of our penalty box allowed Angel Tasende in to grab an equaliser for the visitors in first half stoppage time.
We subjected City to a number of attacks after the break in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League contest but were found wanting in terms of clear chances as the game progressed and indeed it was our substitute goalkeeper Tom Glover who was the busier of the two stoppers after the interval.
Glover had replaced Luke McGee in a planned change at half-time, with the latter having completed 45 minutes on his comeback from injury. Andros Townsend played the full game on the right wing and made Ellis Plummer’s life a misery in the opening stages as he pushed forward and forced the City defender into an early mistake, although the ball ran through to goalkeeper Angus Gunn on that occasion and City escaped without conceding.
Brandon Barker might have opened the scoring for the visitors after eight minutes when he left McGee stranded in the box and skipped towards the keeper’s right-hand post, but Kyle Walker-Peters was racing back and intercepted his eventual shot before it crossed the line.
It was 1-0 seven minutes later, though, as James Horsfield’s over-hit cross from close to the byline on the right found its way out to Tasende, who drilled through a crowd of bodies from the edge of the box – the ball taking a wicked deflection and sitting up nicely for Celina to clip home from six yards with our players appealing for off-side.
Townsend was proving tough for the visitors to contain as the half progressed, the England international’s cross-field ball just running beyond Sonupe as he broke down the opposite flank, while Luke Amos tried to unpick the City defence with a couple of incisive passes through the middle which ultimately came to nothing.
We found an equaliser on 32 minutes, however, as Sonupe latched onto a wayward clearance and played the ball in-field to Anton Walkes, who in turn set up Coulthirst to pick his spot and fire low inside the near post from just outside the box.
Two minutes later the game had been turned on its head as Townsend zipped into the area on the right and, although Coulthirst failed to connect with his cut-back, Sonupe was there to pick up the pieces and finish from 12 yards out.
We were indebted to Walker-Peters for a marvellous goal-line clearance to thwart Barker on 39 minutes after McGee dived at the feet of Celina and the ball squirmed free, but City snatched a leveller a minute into stoppage time as we dithered on the edge of our box and Tasende nipped in from the left to lash inside the near post from a tight angle.
Townsend produced a good save from Gunn 11 minutes after the restart with a left-footed shot, Sonupe hitting the side-netting from the rebound, while Coulthirst’s header from Townsend’s cross also forced Gunn into action moments later.
Glover followed suit at the other end as we went past the hour mark, diving to palm away Tasende’s 20-yard rasper, although he was nearly caught out shortly afterwards as Celina spotted him off his line and tried to lob him from just inside our half. Glover retreated in the nick of time, though, and tipped over the bar.
We continued to get forward down the flanks but City looked dangerous on the counter and they almost snatched the lead from one such break when Barker went through one-on-one with Glover but, with the keeper backpedalling at the edge of his box, the City man’s shot hit the outside of the post.
Glover was there again to turn Celina’s close-range effort away with his left hand on 88 minutes while, from our next attack, Walker-Peters fizzed a low ball across the face of goal but there was nobody in a Lilywhite shirt there to convert.
We constructed one final attack in stoppage time which ended when Sonupe went to ground as he rushed into the area, but the referee saw no infringement and the spoils were shared.
Matt Wells said
“Given the way we played in the second half, particularly in the first 20 minutes of that period when I thought we were outstanding, we could perhaps have taken more from the game,” he said.
“We asked for a lot more urgency at half-time and the players gave us that, but the disappointing aspect was the counter-attacks. We had a lot of overload situations with four-v-two or five-v-three where if we’d picked the correct pass or had slightly more detail on the pass then we would have created more goalscoring opportunities. We probably should have won it in that period.
“To be fair, though, I thought the group mentality to defend all over the pitch was far improved. The intensity of our closing down caused them a lot of problems but I’m still disappointed with their two goals in terms of our defending around the penalty area. I thought we were a bit lazy with our blocks and not bright enough to react to the second balls so we spoke about that at half-time and, in the second half, that aspect of our play was greatly improved.”
Matt was also pleased with the way the players responded to going a goal down.
“We showed fantastic character individually and collectively with the reaction to their first goal,” he added. “It was similar to one of the goals against Chelsea last week as it came in a period when we were on top of the game and we should have done better to stop the cross and to defend the middle of the goal, but the boys got straight back on the ball, we created chances and we took our goals really well.
“They were two outstanding strikes but, at 2-1, the frustration was that we didn’t add to that and then we had another moment right on the stroke of half-time where we conceded a very sloppy goal.”
Spurs U21s: McGee (Glover 46), Walker-Peters, Georgiou, Amos, Veljkovic (c), Lesniak, Townsend, Walkes (J Pritchard 73), Coulthirst, Miller (Goddard 76), Sonupe. Substitutes (not used): Maghoma, Paul.
Manchester City U21s: Gunn, Horsfield, Humphreys-Grant, Plummer, Tasende, Glendon (c), Bytyqi (Nemane 60), Smith-Brown (Adarabioyo 77), Celina, Garcia (Kongolo 60), Barker. Substitutes (not used): Faupala, O’Brien (GK).