Five-star second half sinks Saints Under-18s
Southampton 2-5 Spurs
01 September 2018|Tottenham Hotspur
Pinpoint passing and lethal finishing saw our Under-18s maintain their 100 per cent start to the season with an emphatic win at Southampton on Saturday.
Two route one goals from Jeremie Mukendi inside the first 20 minutes and well-taken strikes from Dilan Markanday, Rayan Clarke and birthday boy Phoenix Patterson after the break secured a 5-2 triumph, but it was the way those players were picked out from deep that left the Saints helpless.
The home side pressed high themselves on a handful of occasions in the first period with Enzo Robise scoring a penalty after a foul by goalkeeper Jonathan De Bie and substitute Rio Glean grabbing a consolation late in the game, but we improved on our first-half performance to produce a display full of energy, creativity and desire in the second, winning comfortably in the end.
Jamie Bowden ran the show from central midfield with a dominant performance capped by three assists, with all of our front players twisting and turning into good areas as we went up through the gears.
Bowden sent Mukendi through straight down the middle after initially taking control of the play on the edge of our box to open the scoring after three minutes, but some last-ditch defending was needed from Maxi Tainio and Harvey White as Southampton showed their own attacking intent.
Mukendi doubled his tally on 19 minutes with virtually a carbon copy of his first, this time latching onto defender Malachi Walcott's ball down the middle and shaking off the attentions of his marker to fire past goalkeeper Jack Bycroft.
De Bie brought down Robise in the area, allowing the Saints man to pull one back from the spot just before the half-hour mark, but the keeper went some way to redeeming himself with an excellent low one-on-one save from the same player as he burst through on goal moments later.
The hosts couldn't handle us after the break as we pulled away. Luis Binks' inch-perfect diagonal pass from the left side of the half-way line saw Markanday glide in from the opposite flank, chest past the keeper and roll in from a tight angle five minutes after the restart before Bowden's delightful ball into the right channel allowed Clarke to cut inside, step over and fire inside the near post on 66 minutes for 4-1. Bowden played a part again four minutes later, receiving Patterson's short pass in the box and playing him into space to smash left-footed past Bycroft.
To Southampton's credit, they fashioned more shooting chances than us in the latter stages, Christian Norton hitting the bar, but when Glean converted after a counter-attack in the third minute of additional time, it was very much against the run of play.
A tactical change and some stern words from Under-18s Coach Matt Wells at half-time saw us come out with greater energy and flair after the interval. From there, we really took the game to the Saints, with Markanday’s goal to make it 3-1 giving us the platform to kick on and add to the scoreline.
“Half-time allowed us to change the energy, the attitude and the feeling of the team,” explained Matt. “We made a couple of tactical tweaks, got another body in midfield and we had all of the ball, we were able to find the free man in midfield and we created our opportunities through that.”
On the impressive passing from deep that led to four of our five goals, Matt added: “We’re so happy with that because it’s something that we looked at in the de-brief post-Chelsea last week. At times we were making those runs and the pass wasn’t being delivered or the passer was looking for the run and people weren’t running so I was really pleased with that today. Southampton marked man-to-man pretty much all over the pitch so we spoke about double movements, bringing your man in towards the ball and spinning in behind, which is what Jeremie Mukendi did superbly well for his first two goals and I thought he was excellent in general with his mentality and his work for the team today. I’d also say the same for Jamie Bowden – he had a real bite to his play and he showed his quality as well in possession, orchestrating the game.
“I wasn’t wholly satisfied with the performance though. In the first half we went 2-0 up but I still felt we were flat, certainly out of possession, and we lacked the zip and the energy that we showed against Chelsea. Southampton had too many opportunities for the amount of possession that we had, the defensive line was poor in the way they covered the channel but the second half was a much better performance. I didn’t like the way we finished the game and we got sloppy in terms of our habits but it’s still early days, it’s still only 1 September so there’s a lot to improve on.”
Southampton 2-5 Spurs (Under-18 Premier League)
Spurs: De Bie, Tainio, White, Bowden, Walcott (Statham 78), Binks (Thorpe 76), Pochettino (Clarke 60), A Shashoua (c), Mukendi, Markanday, Patterson. Substitutes (not used): Oluwayemi, Asante.