First defeat for Under-23s
Spurs 1-2 Derby County (Premier League 2)
Fri 23 August 2019, 14:45|Tottenham Hotspur
Our Under-23s saw their unbeaten start to the season come to an end at Hotspur Way on Friday afternoon as we slipped to a 2-1 defeat against Derby County despite a battling second half performance.
Having overcome Liverpool and Manchester City in our opening two games of the Premier League 2 campaign, hopes were high that we could continue that sequence against the Rams. But that looked an unlikely scenario as the visitors raced into a two-goal half-time lead thanks to strikes from Morgan Whittaker and Duane Holmes, with Alfie Whiteman also saving a first-half penalty with the score at 1-0. We were much more of an attacking force after the interval and halved the deficit through Rodel Richards but, despite plenty of possession in Derby’s half, we were unable to carve out an equaliser.
On a glorious sunny afternoon at our Training Centre, a cagey opening from both sides ended when the visitors opened the scoring after 11 minutes. Brooklyn Lyons-Foster played a pass in to Harvey White who was quickly closed down mid-way inside his own half, Jahmal Hector-Ingram found Whittaker with the loose ball and the Derby man hit a right-foot shot past Whiteman from the edge of the area. The Rams were lifted by the early goal and were causing us problems at the back, TJ Eyoma producing a fine last-ditch tackle to deny Whittaker when through on goal before Derby skipper Max Bird tested Whiteman from distance.
The visitors were awarded a 28th-minute penalty after Eyoma clipped Jayden Mitchell-Lawson in the area but Whiteman saved well, diving to his right to thwart Hector-Ingram’s spot-kick. However, the goalkeeper could do nothing to prevent the second goal four minutes later, Holmes picking the ball up 25 yards from goal and curling an excellent right-footed drive into the top corner. Whiteman subsequently kept out Holmes’ free-kick with another fine full-stretch save.
It was a different story in the second period though, as we stepped up our game and dominated the ball as the visitors dropped deeper and deeper. Dilan Markanday fired just wide from distance and we so nearly pulled one back on 67 minutes when White’s clever header found left-back Tariq Hinds, he shrugged off a defender, cut onto his more favoured right foot and unleashed a curling effort which was heading for the top corner until Derby keeper Henrich Ravas dived across and tipped it onto the bar, a superb save. Just a minute later though, we did find a way through when Markanday’s cut-back from the right was prodded goalwards by Shilow Tracey, Ravas made another smart save but Richards was on hand to score with an improvised finish from close range.
The closing stages were all about whether we could force an equaliser or if Derby would hold on. Ravas denied Markanday from distance, Jubril Okedina headed wide from a corner and, in stoppage time, we were awarded a free-kick 25 yards from goal but substitute Armando Shashoua sent his effort a foot wide of the post, and with it went our chances of avoiding a first defeat of the season.
Derby had been denied a second goal by the superb Whiteman when he saved Hector-Ingram’s penalty but when Holmes picked out the top corner from range shortly after the half-hour mark, we were left with a mountain to climb. Sadly, there was no way back in spite of an improved second-half display.
Under-23s Coach Wayne Burnett said: “If there was ever an example of how not to start a game, it was today. I’m really disappointed, more so because of the two previous games (wins over Liverpool and Manchester City) and how we played. When you start like we did and you give a team a two-goal lead, it’s very difficult to get that back. We did play better in the second half but the first half was totally unacceptable and we know that. Derby didn’t really trouble us much in the second half, only on the counter. We knew they were going to sit deeper in the second half but I thought if we could get a goal, we could possibly get a second. Even at half-time I was confident we’d get something out of the game because I’m fully aware of what these players are capable of, but you need to be consistent not only for long periods of a game but over a whole season. That’s why top players are top players, because their habits stay consistent.”
Spurs 1-2 Derby County (Premier League 2)
Spurs: Whiteman, Okedina, Hinds, White (A Shashoua 79), Eyoma (c), Lyons-Foster, Markanday, Maghoma, Richards, Oakley-Boothe, Tracey. Substitutes (not used): De Bie, R Clarke, Dinzeyi, Patterson.
Derby County: Ravas, Minkley, Brown, Bird (c), Wassall, Hunt, Whittaker (Cresswell 71), Dixon, Hector-Ingram, Holmes (Babos 66), Mitchell-Lawson (Shonibare 83). Substitutes (not used): Yates, Splatt.
Goals: Spurs – Richards 68; Derby – Whittaker 11, Holmes 32.
Yellow cards: Spurs – Eyoma; Derby – Babos.
Referee: Alan Dale.
Venue: Hotspur Way.
Weather: Sunny 25 degrees.