Roles wins it late against Leicester
PL2: Spurs 1-0 Leicester City
19 October 2018|Tottenham Hotspur
Jack Roles bagged an 87th-minute winner as we saw off Leicester City 1-0 in the Premier League 2 at Hotspur Way on Friday lunchtime.
With centre-back Japhet Tanganga and goalkeeper Brandon Austin superb at keeping Leicester’s quick and physically powerful side at bay during a gritty first half, we opened up in terms of playing forward after the restart.
Wales international Andy King – one of two 2016 Premier League title winners in the Foxes’ side along with right-back Danny Simpson – saw his diving header come back off the post while Roles hit the woodwork with a good chance of our own before making amends against a tiring visiting team by finishing off a quick break in the closing moments.
Kazaiah Sterling, back in for his first game of the season following injury, was a hard-working presence up front throughout and played a part in the goal, while left-back Jamie Reynolds marked his return from a lengthy lay-off after knee surgery as a half-time substitute.
Leicester included our ex-Development Squad striker Ryan Loft in their side, but his best chance of scoring against his former team-mates came and went in the first half as he steered Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall’s shot towards goal from close range, only to be denied by one of a handful of impressive Austin saves.
Leicester’s aggressive pressing made it difficult for us to play out from inside our half during the first period. Aerial deliveries were always going to come, Dewsbury-Hall glancing the bar with one of them on nine minutes, but the superb Tanganga, at the centre of our back three, was on the end of almost everything that came into our box, making repeated blocks and getting the first contact on the ball despite being surrounded by blue shirts at times.
Roles and Sterling tested goalkeeper Viktor Johanson either side of Austin’s good reaction save to deny Loft, with the latter making another impressive stop to keep out Calvin Bassey’s drive on 40 minutes, despite seeing it late.
King, back from international duty with Wales this week, went closest for Leicester after half-time when his header hit the upright on 69 minutes before Roles struck the frame of the goal with a curling shot at the other end six minutes later. Gaps were starting to appear for the visitors, though, with Roles always looking to exploit them with opportunistic breaks forward. He squared for Dylan Duncan in one such instance but he was denied by Johanson. But three minutes later, with the clock ticking down, Roles wriggled free through the middle, exchanged passes with Sterling and converted from six yards out.
The goal was deserved for the way we grew into the game. Leicester even threw keeper Johanson forward in stoppage time in pursuit of a response, but our concentration levels won out as we claimed maximum points.
Both sides squandered chances to take the lead in the second half, but it was Roles’ late strike that decided the game. You sensed it was coming for the midfielder, who had frequently got up in support of Sterling but couldn’t quite take full advantage as we swept forward.
That was until the 87th minute when he initially did well to break free from the midfield pack with the ball at his feet, then played a clever one-two with Sterling before scoring from inside the box.
“As the game went on, we seemed to get stronger and better and I think our style was evident, certainly towards the end of the game,” said Under-23s Coach Wayne Burnett. “In the first half, they were fresh, they were running after us, they were aggressive in their press and it was difficult at times to play out from the back but we persevered, we kept going and got our reward in the end. We had two or three very good chances that you would expect us to maybe convert.”
After another interesting battle of styles, coach Wayne was pleased to see ours emerge triumphant in the end.
“We knew exactly the type of style that Leicester would bring to the game,” he said. “We were prepared for it, we did some work during the week and I thought we were resilient, we defended our box excellently, especially in the second half, and I think our style prevailed in the end. We stuck to what we do, what we know and our identity.
“Collectively it’s been a good performance and the pleasing thing for me is we’ve kept another clean sheet. Not only that, it’ll enhance the players as well, because it’s been a really competitive game and when you look at the two teams and make the comparison with the physicality, there is a difference there. We competed though, we weren’t out-worked, we certainly weren’t outfought and that’s what pleased me the most.”
Asked about Tanganga’s performance at centre-back, Wayne said: “I thought he was immense. I don’t like to pick out people individually because you win as a team and you lose as a team, but the ball found his head a lot today. He defended very, very well, as did the team collectively.”
On the returns of Sterling and Reynolds, he added: “I’m pleased for both of them. Kaz worked tirelessly. It’s going to take him a while to get back into the groove, which we know, while Jamie has come back in, competed and worked hard. He needed to work on his timing at times because he’s been out a long time, but for him to play 45 minutes in a game where it’s been physical and we haven’t always dominated the ball is credit to him. It’s a foundation for both players to build on.”
Spurs 1-0 Leicester City (Premier League 2)
Spurs: Austin (c), Hinds, Brown, Eyoma, Tanganga, Dinzeyi (Reynolds 46), Duncan, Bowden, Sterling (Richards 88), Oakley-Boothe, Roles (Patterson 90+2). Substitute (not used): Glover.
Leicester City: Johanson, Simpson, Elder, Pascanu, Knight, Johnson (c, Kaba-Sherif 78), Shade, King, Loft (Tee 66), Dewsbury-Hall, Uche (Bassey 33). Substitutes (not used): Davies, Ramsey.
Goal: Spurs – Roles 87.
Yellow cards: Spurs – Bowden 15, Hinds 17, Eyoma 57, Austin 90+6; Leicester – Johanson 90+6.
Referee: Daniel Middleton.
Venue: Hotspur Way, Enfield.
Weather: Sunny, 15 degrees.