Positive point for Academy side in Greece
Olympiacos 1-1 Spurs (UEFA Youth League)
Wed 18 September 2019, 15:08|Tottenham Hotspur
Our Under-19s kicked-off their UEFA Youth League campaign with a hard-earned point in the heat of Athens against Olympiacos on Wednesday.
With the famous Parthenon temple in the distance, the teams slugged it out at Olympiacos' Training Centre as temperatures touched 32 degrees in the afternoon sun. Troy Parrott gave us the perfect start with a clinical finish on 10 minutes before Olympiacos capitalised on a defensive slip just after the half-hour. The pace of the game unsurprisingly dipped in a second half of few chances with Emiliano Bullari rattling the crossbar late on for the home side.
We started well. Paris Maghoma saw an early effort fly wide before we took the lead on 10 minutes. Quickly snapping into the high press, Rodel Richards won possession on the right and slid in Parrott, who made no mistake one-on-one.
As expected, that prompted a response. Goalkeeper Josh Oluwayemi denied Alexandros Voilis, Polykarpos Katsavakis shot wide and Vasilis Sourlis scooped over from the edge of the box. That spell cooled and we looked back in control when Olympiacos levelled out of nothing on 31 minutes. Voilis chased a ball over the top, TJ Eyoma underhit his back-pass and Voilis gathered, weighed up his options and squared for Georgios Fekkas to slot home. Rayan Clarke had the best chance before the break, beating three players cutting in from the left before firing straight at Kostas Tzolakis.
The second half was harder work for all involved and clear-cut chances at a premium. Olympiacos had an early sighter when Nikitas Nikolis' shot was blocked and ran to Kyriakos Arsenidis, who sliced wide. We were certainly in control in terms of possession and territory. Dilan Markanday continued to weave away in the right channel and got away just after the hour. His low shot was blocked as far as skipper Jamie Bowden who fired just wide from the edge of the box. The next chance didn't arrive until the 81st minute when Dermi Lusala played in Parrott down the left. Markanday was free in the box but Parrott's cross was cut out. The game ended with a heart-in-mouth moment as Bullari let rip from 25 yards, his snap-shot bouncing back off the bar. That was that - a decent point on our travels.
Unfortunately, it has to be the Olympiacos equaliser. We looked to have weathered the storm after taking the lead but were undone by a ball over the top, centre-half Eyoma left his pass home short and the hosts capitalised, Voilis squaring for Fekkas to score. Olympiacos hadn’t really opened us up – and didn’t for the rest of the game – but it’s also worth noting they struck the woodwork late on.
Former midfielder Ryan Mason was formally appointed Academy Coach in charge of our UEFA Youth League side over the summer. After overseeing his first game in Greece, he reflected: "You probably couldn’t appreciate the heat if you were watching on TV – it was 32 degrees out here, so very hot and conditions the players aren’t used to playing in. I thought we adapted well in the second half, dictated and controlled large periods of the game. It was a game of mistakes for both goals and it was disappointing to take the lead and then give it away, but it’s a reminder of the levels you find as a player - make mistakes and you get punished."
Ryan admitted he's also learning lessons in the dugout. With a mixture of Under-23 and Under-18 players at his disposal, he continued: "It’s been a great learning experience for me as well. This team hasn’t played together really. There are some first-year scholars in there and it’s a big mixture. That team chemistry will hopefully follow. From my point of view, it was a great experience. It was a tactical game, maybe the heat played a part in that and it became one of those games where at times it was a bit like a chess match. In the second half we were very pleased with our concentration and being alive when we were attacking, something we spoke about. Overall, I’m pleased with how we finished the game."
Central midfielder Jamie Bowden, who captained the side, added: "It was tough, especially in the heat. They made it difficult for us to play. They knew what we were doing with the press. It worked early and when we played, we created a few chances. There are a lot of positives to take away from the game. It’s a learning experience for the players. We wanted to come away with some reward and we did that. We use this now as a platform to build in the group."
Olympiacos 1-1 Spurs (UEFA Youth League)
Olympiacos: Tzolakis, Ntoumanis, Gkotzamanidis, Belic (Aslanidis 79), Martinis, Neofytidis, Nikolis (Liatsos 67), Fekkas, Sourlis (Syrmis 79), Katsavakis (Arsenidis 46), Voillis (c) (Bullari 65). Subsitiutes (not used): Stournaras, Tsavos.
Spurs: Oluwayemi, Lyons-Foster, Eyoma, Binks, White, Bowden (c) (Lusala 72), Maghoma, Markanday, Richards, R Clarke (Whittaker 89), Parrott. Substitutes (not used): Kurylowicz, Asante, Etete, Matthew Craig, Robson.
Goals: Olympiacos - Fekkas 31; Spurs - Parrott 10.
Yellow cards: Olympiacos - Sourlis 73, Liatsos 90+2; Spurs - Bowden 59.
Referee: Tihomir Pejin (Croatia).
Venue: Olympiacos Training Centre, Piraeus, Athens.
Weather: Hot and sunny, 32 degrees.