Under-23s return to winning ways at Blackburn
Blackburn Rovers 2-3 Spurs (Premier League 2)
Mon 07 December 2020, 21:16|Tottenham Hotspur
Our Under-23s produced a fine display to beat Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League 2 at Lancashire FA's HQ in Leyland on Monday night.
It was the perfect response to a run of three straight losses, and a 5-1 reverse last time out at home to Leicester City.
Centre-forward Kion Etete handed the team the perfect start with the opener on three minutes - his third goal in as many games - and after a series of half-chances, Maurizio Pochettino fired into the top corner for 2-0 on 33 minutes to open his account for the season.
Rovers, who could have gone top of the table with a win, came out firing in the second half and pulled a goal back inside two minutes through Brad Lyons. There was no panic in our ranks and we were back on the front foot immediately, and eventually rewarded on 67 minutes when Alfie Devine was upended and Harvey White converted the penalty.
As expected, there was a late flourish from Rovers, Sam Durrant reduced the deficit to 3-2 on 74 minutes and a couple of chances came and went, but it was not a case of us 'holding on' for the win. Indeed, we might have added a fourth on the counter, only for Devine to be denied by Antonis Stergiakis.
The home side were the architects of their own downfall as we took the lead on three minutes. Louie Annesley initially sent a backpass home to where he thought Stergiakis would be, but the goalkeeper had moved to his right, and Annesley's pass zipped just the wrong side of the post. However, from the resulting corner, White curled to the far post where Etete guided home from close range.
Our high press was working well and we had bundles of energy going forward from White, Devine and Jack Clarke. Pochettino sped away before firing straight at Stergiakis, Devine's cross from the byline evaded everyone, Etete's effort looked good but was deflected wide and Jubril Okedina's glancing header had Stergiakis scrambling.
Tobi Omole blocked Rovers' first effort of note from Dan Pike on 30 minutes and we doubled our lead three minutes later. Again, pressure high up led to a misplaced pass from Annesley and as the ball rolled across the area, Pochettino strolled onto it and lashed into the top corner. Pochettino might had had another but for his shot hitting Etete in front of goal, while Isaac Whitehall curled a free-kick just wide at the other end.
Rovers responded quickly in the second half as Lyons headed home from close range, but we were soon back on top. White saw a 20-yarder tipped over and Stergiakis excelled again to keep out Okedina's header. Devine went close, Okedina fired over and it was no surprise to see us score a third. Devine put the burners on and was tripped in the box by Sam Barnes, White made no mistake from the spot.
Rovers hit back again for 3-2 with a low drive from Sam Durrant and Sam Burns failed to connect with Harry Chapman's cross on 82 minutes, but that was the last scare, and Devine was denied a fourth late on by Stergiakis.
'The players deserve some praise'
Under-23s Coach Wayne Burnett was pleased to see his side's recent slump arrested with the result against Rovers: "In most of the games we've lost recently we've actually done okay at times but haven't been consistent with our defensive play and conceded too many goals, again we've conceded goals tonight but managed to score three at a difficult place to come in conditions that probably didn't suit our style but we found a way and I'm really pleased that we've managed to get the win," he said.
"We had some really good chances, got into some good positions but didn't capitalise and when you come to places like this, you need to take those chances. I thought we were in complete control in the first half, I was really disappointed with the way in which we conceded their first goal and it gave them a bit of hope and swung the momentum a little, but we stuck to our task, we knew what kind of game it would be and managed to score another. Their goalkeeper made a brilliant save from Jubril, a save from Harvey, a save from Alfie Denine where he went through, so on reflection we maybe should have scored one or two more. Coming to a place like this in difficult conditions, the players deserve some praise."
Blackburn Rovers 2-3 Spurs (Premier League 2)
Blackburn Rovers: Stergiakis, Pike (Saadi 39), Thompson, Barnes, Annesley, Grayson (c), Burns, Lyons, Butterworth (Durrant 46), Whitehall, Chapman. Subtitutes (not used): Eastham, Weston, Pratt.
Spurs: Austin, Okedina (c), Lavinier, Marsh, Lyons-Foster, Omole, Pochettino (Thorpe 75), White, Etete, Devine, Clarke. Substitutes (not used): Kurylowicz, Mukendi, Pedder, Skinner.
Goals: Blackburn - Lyons 47, Durrant 74; Spurs - Etete 3, Pochettino 34, White 67 (pen).
Yellow cards: Blackburn - Barnes 16, Annesley 23, Saadi 70; Spurs - Marsh 40, Omole 86.
Referee: Matthew Dicicco.
Venu: Lancashire FA headquarters, Leyland.
Weather: Cold but still, one degree at kick-off.