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Under-18s share spoils at Norwich

Norwich City 1-1 Spurs (Under-18 Premier League)

Sat 01 February 2020, 14:24|Tottenham Hotspur

J’Neil Bennett’s late strike was cancelled out by Zach Dronfield as our Under-18s were held 1-1 at Norwich City on Saturday.

After a below-par performance in a game of few chances, Bennett appeared to have snatched victory when he curled into the far corner in the 86th minute, only for Dronfield to convert a wide free-kick from substitute Tony Springett at the near post right at the end of normal time.

There was still time for Bennett to hit the post in an attempt to repeat his previous smash-and-grab strike, but it was a disappointing outcome at the Canaries’ Colney training base after four wins in our last four league games.

Winger Bennett floated a speculative effort off-target from out on the left flank in the early stages but we struggled to play forward in a blustery wind and, as such, chances were few and far between. Norwich’s Tom Dickson-Peters went closest in the first half when his 37th-minute free-kick was well tipped over by goalkeeper Kacper Kurylowicz.

Our centre-half pairing of Marqes Muir and Aaron Skinner kept the hosts largely under control at the back but we were left frustrated in our attempts to push forward into Norwich’s territory. Bennett decided to go it alone in the 62nd minute and cracked a shot against the woodwork from the left angle, but within two minutes the hosts also struck the frame of the goal as Reece McAlear arrowed a rising shot through a crowded penalty box and against the upright.

Left-back Jeremy Kyezu, in for his Under-18 Premier League debut from the start, crossed for striker Tarrelle Whittaker but he couldn’t steer his attempt on target and the game appeared to be destined to finish goalless until Kurylowicz instigated an attack from inside our own box which saw substitutes Yago Santiago and Eddie Carrington advance down the right, the latter’s cross finding Bennett on the far side who fired into the net on his right foot at the second time of asking on 86 minutes, after initially finding his path blocked.

We weren’t brave enough in possession, we didn’t break lines and there were not enough rotations in the midfield.

Under-18s Coach Matt Taylor

Unfortunately, having grabbed the lead, we couldn’t make it stick and right at the end of the 90 minutes, Springett’s free-kick from Norwich’s right side was turned home at the near post by Dronfield. Bennett surged forward again and hit the far post, but the hosts deserved their point after making life difficult for us over the course of the game.

Key moment

Dronfield’s equaliser prevented us from running out victorious, the midfielder getting himself to the front of the waiting pack in the box to meet Springett’s free-kick and turn the ball low beyond Kurylowicz.

Coach’s view

Under-18s Coach Matt Taylor said: “As a team, we haven’t valued the importance of defending correctly at the end but if we’d have won, it would probably have been slightly unjust on Norwich because there wasn’t a huge amount between the teams, which is disappointing for us given the form we’ve been in. I expected the boys to come here and put in a performance that would have been worthy of winning but ultimately we didn’t.

“As footballers you’ve got to adjust to the conditions and we didn’t do that today. We weren’t brave enough in possession, we didn’t break lines and there were not enough rotations in the midfield three where our overload was. The biggest thing for me, with the players we have, is that you have to be able to handle the ball and be brave in possession. Today we too often took the easy option, so it’s disappointing.”

Norwich City 1-1 Spurs (Under-18 Premier League)

Spurs: Kurylowicz, Cesay, Kyezu, John, Muir (c), Skinner, Mundle (Carrington 46), Robson (Matthew Craig 22), Whittaker, Pedder (Santiago 70), Bennett. Substitute (not used): Lo-Tutala.