Under-23s held by Liverpool
Spurs 1-1 Liverpool (Premier League 2)
Mon 07 January 2019, 20:57|Tottenham Hotspur
Kazaiah Sterling’s opener was cancelled out by a long-range stunner from Liam Coyle as our Under-23s were forced to share the spoils with Liverpool in the Premier League 2 on Monday night.
Following an end-to-end first half at Stevenage, we came out flying after the break and took a deserved lead when Sterling converted from six yards having at first been denied by goalkeeper Kai McKenzie-Lyle. Anthony Georgiou was a real threat down our left wing as the game went on and McKenzie-Lyle had to be in fine form to prevent us from adding to the scoreline, notably denying Jack Roles from point-blank range following one of Georgiou's low deliveries.
But when Coyle found a pocket of space 25 yards out following a repelled Liverpool attack, he took aim and fired past the diving Alfie Whiteman to make it 1-1.
Striker Vincent Janssen was given a run-out - his first appearance in our colours since the beginning of last season - and was an imposing figure up front, with Sterling initially playing off him before moving into the centre upon the Dutch international's substitution. Unfortunately for us, the pair could only really feed off scraps in an open first half which saw both sides have their best chances from headers - Bobby Duncan planted one wide for the Reds on 26 minutes before Japhet Tanganga glanced Georgiou's corner beyond the far post eight minutes later.
Janssen's effort was charged down and spun behind for a corner just before the break but we came out determined after the restart, with Georgiou so dangerous in a more advanced role, bursting in down his flank and sending in numerous crosses. From one such delivery on 49 minutes, Sterling was denied by a great save from McKenzie-Lyle before the ball was worked back to him from the right-hand side and he steered into the back of the net to give us the lead. The keeper was at it again four minutes later, keeping out Roles' close-range strike, with the midfielder only able to head over the bar as the rebound came quickly to him.
Seeing a lot more of the possession and playing freely, we seemed destined to push on and win the game, but when the ball was set back to Coyle in space 25 yards from goal with 25 minutes left, the Liverpool man picked his spot and fired inside the far post to level the scores. It was a blow but we continued to have the better chances in the latter stages, getting the ball into the six-yard box a couple of times – agonisingly we just couldn't find a way past McKenzie-Lyle. Oakley-Boothe was thwarted, Sterling's header was saved well on 83 minutes while Roles' strike was deflected behind in stoppage time, but there was to be no winning goal.
McKenzie-Lyle was by far the busier of the two goalkeepers, but it was his lightning-quick reaction to deny Roles at his near post four minutes after the opener that proved crucial.
Roles' strike was clean, but McKenzie-Lyle got himself in the way of it and saw the midfielder's header from the rebound loop over the bar. Had one of those gone in, 1-0 would have quickly become 2-0 and the Reds would have had a mountain to climb.
Under-23s Coach Wayne Burnett admitted the players were “bitterly disappointed” to have drawn the game. “Overall we probably had the better chances,” he said. “The first half was quite an even affair but in the second half we came out with a bit more urgency and energy and we should have won the game with the amount of penalty box entries that we had. Their goalkeeper made some very good saves – one from Jack Roles, Tashan Oakley-Boothe had a chance – so it's not for the lack of trying, we just haven't managed to capitalise on those chances. On another day we could have gone on to win the game but we haven't done that and when you're only 1-0 in front, there's always a chance that you can concede. They've had one shot on target in the second half and managed to score from it.
“The game has a way of being cruel to you sometimes. If you don't take your chances, the opposition are always still in the game. The players are bitterly disappointed and I think it is two points dropped, but if we can learn from that, that's important.”
Spurs 1-1 Liverpool (Premier League 2)
Spurs: Whiteman, Hinds, Georgiou (Tracey 70), Marsh, Tanganga (c), Eyoma, Oakley-Boothe, Duncan (Parrott 89), Janssen (Reynolds 46), Sterling, Roles. Substitutes (not used): Austin, Bowden.
Liverpool: McKenzie-Lyle, Williams, Johnston (c), Masterson, Whelan, Coyle (William 84), Duncan (McAuley 68), Randall, Millar, Chirivella, Garcia. Substitute (not used): Atherton, Glatzel.
Goals: Spurs - Sterling 49; Liverpool - Coyle 65.
Yellow card: Liverpool - Coyle 72.
Referee: Josh Smith.
Venue: Lamex Stadium, Stevenage.
Weather: Light cloud, 10 degrees.