Derby defeat for Under-23s
Spurs 0-4 Arsenal (Premier League 2)
Fri 15 February 2019, 21:34|Tottenham Hotspur
Three goals in the first 31 minutes turned Friday night's Premier League 2 north London derby in Arsenal's favour.
Coming off the back of a 2-0 reverse at Brighton a fortnight ago, our young Under-23 side paid for a slow start against a Gunners outfit featuring a smattering of first team experience as Joe Willock's third-minute opener was added to when George Marsh was frustratingly penalised for handball in the box and Charlie Gilmour converted from the penalty spot. Willock added a second to put his side in full control and although we created more chances after the break – Tashan Oakley-Boothe, Dennis Cirkin and Jack Roles all going close – a fourth goal through Eddie Nketiah just after the resumption following Roles' uncharacteristic error made for an unflattering 4-0 scoreline at Stevenage.
The Gunners were quickly out of the blocks as a cross from the left was unconventionally nudged back into the six-yard box by Xavier Amaechi, where Willock turned in from close range. Roles tested goalkeeper Deyan Iliev but when Marsh challenged Amaechi for a bouncing ball in the box and was adjudged to have handled, Gilmour didn't need a second invitation to bury the penalty. Work to do with 25 minutes gone.
Arsenal continued in the driving seat and after Brandon Austin saved Nketiah's angled shot, the resulting short corner was worked to Willock who lashed in through a crowded area just beyond the half-hour mark.
Shilow Tracey, tasked with leading the line, got a glancing header on Bennett's cross but it didn't unduly trouble Iliev and any hopes of a second-half fightback were extinguished within two minutes of the restart as Roles' short back-pass to Austin was pounced on by Nketiah, who slid home from the left angle. Midfielder Oakley-Boothe and left-back Cirkin both forced saves from Iliev while Roles lashed inches wide from the edge of the box but while we weren't shy of trying shots in an improved second-half performance, it was the Gunners who went closest to scoring again as Amaechi's free-kick curled onto the post eight minutes from time.
Arsenal's second goal just after the mid-way point of the first half was a telling blow. Trailing 1-0, we'd had a couple of half-chances to get back into the game but when referee Josh Smith pointed to the spot as Marsh diligently challenged for an awkward ball in the box but was adjudged to have handled, Gilmour got his revenge on goalkeeper Austin for saving his spot-kick in the reverse fixture at the Emirates in August, sending him the wrong way from 12 yards to double his side's lead.
From there, it was always going to be tough.
“We’re bitterly disappointed that we’ve not managed to compete in a north London derby,” said Under-23s Coach Wayne Burnett. “That isn’t a representation of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club and we can’t allow that to happen. We improved slightly in the second half but the game was pretty much done in the first half-an-hour. We need to have a long, hard look at ourselves as a group. I’ve got a lot of emotions and at the end of the night, we’re all bitterly disappointed.”
Spurs 0-4 Arsenal (Premier League 2)
Spurs: Austin, Hinds, Cirkin, Marsh, Tanganga (c), Eyoma, Maghoma, Oakley-Boothe, Tracey, Roles (A Shashoua 73), Bennett. Substitutes (not used): Glover, Duncan, Lyons-Foster, Dinzeyi.
Arsenal: Iliev (Smith 77), Osei-Tutu, Pleguezuelo (c, John-Jules 66), Gilmour, Ballard, Mavropanos, Amaechi (Zelalem 86), Willock, Nketiah, Thompson, Saka. Substitutes (not used): Coyle, Medley.
Goals: Arsenal - Willock 3, 31, Gilmour 25 (pen), Nketiah 47.
Yellow cards: Spurs - Bennett 81; Arsenal - Pleguezuelo 43, Gilmour 74, Smith 84.
Referee: Josh Smith.
Venue: Lamex Stadium, Stevenage.
Weather: Partly cloudy, gentle breeze, five degrees.