Under-23s back to winning ways against Wolves
Spurs 3-2 Wolves (Premier League 2)
Mon 02 March 2020, 20:57|Tottenham Hotspur
Three first-half goals proved enough in the face of a late Wolves fightback as our Under-23s secured a first Premier League 2 win in six at Stevenage on Monday night.
We took our chances clinically in the first period as Troy Parrott's early opener was added to by Jeremie Mukendi and the lively Maurizio Pochettino with their first league goals of the season, giving us a healthy 3-0 lead.
Wolves always carried a threat, though, and delivered several balls into our box, with Jonathan De Bie forced into a handful of important saves before a late double from Renat Dadashov - the first one from the penalty spot - made for a nervy ending. Bruno Jordao rattled the crossbar and was denied by De Bie as the visitors tried to salvage an unlikely point, but we saw it out to win 3-2.
Midfielder Jamie Bowden - in for his first league start of 2020 after injury - and Dilan Markanday were narrowly off-target in the opening moments before we made the breakthrough on eight minutes, the impressive Pochettino cutting into the box from the right and sliding the ball across goal for Parrott to steer home from close range.
Wolves, rooted to the bottom of the table and in need of a win to boost their survival hopes, had a spell of pressure after that, Chem Campbell somehow missing an open goal after Jordao had run clean through down the centre and committed De Bie at the edge of his area, with the goalkeeper making a smart save at his near post from Dadashov shortly afterwards.
We always looked dangerous going forward though, notably with Pochettino breaking into space in the wide areas, and we found a second goal on 27 minutes as Mukendi picked his spot and fired low into the corner on his right foot with precision from 18 yards out. However, the visitors wouldn't give up and De Bie was well-positioned to deny Dadashov from close range before somehow clawing out Campbell's first-time strike from inside the box that seemed destined to hit the back of the net. From the resulting corner, a ruthless break-away saw us extend our lead in the second minute of first-half stoppage time, Mukendi eventually cutting back from the left for Pochettino to score with a first-time, left-footed strike from 12 yards. How crucial that goal would turn out to be.
Striker Rodel Richards - on for Parrott at the interval - and Mukendi tested Andreas Sondergaard in the visitors' goal but Wolves were invading our box all too often and a little while after Dadashov fired over the bar, the striker won a penalty under the challenge of Malachi Fagan-Walcott, blasting home from 12 yards on 77 minutes to give his side a lifeline.
Eight minutes later it was suddenly game on. Despite looking relatively comfortable in possession after the penalty, we conceded again out of nothing as De Bie was left stranded at the edge of his area and Dadashov fired into the empty net for 3-2. Tails up, Wolves went so close to stealing a point three minutes from time when Jordao's rasping shot rattled the crossbar, Harvey White making a vital block from the same player on the follow-up, before Jordao went close again, this time denied by a good save from De Bie. Dilan Markanday scurried forward on a couple of late counter-attacks for us, but the full-time whistle came as something of a relief after what had, until the last 13 minutes, been quite a positive display.
Our third goal in first-half stoppage time ended up being decisive. It came at the end of a sharp counter-attack, Mukendi getting to the byline on the left before cutting back for Pochettino to cap an impressive first-half display with a good finish on his left foot. With Wolves bagging a couple of late goals, it was that effort that ultimately saw us over the line when the full-time whistle blew.
Under-23s Coach Wayne Burnett reflected: "I'm really pleased that we've won, of course. We showed good character in the end but probably we were a bit fortunate to go in 3-0 up at half-time. We started quite brightly in the second half, there were some players who haven't played many games but we need to be braver on the ball at times, we need to defend a bit better and we need to concentrate at crucial times. I thought there were some decent performances, I'm really pleased with one or two individuals but overall pleased that we've won, pleased with our first-half performance, not so much with our second-half performance but the players are aware of that, we've stuck in there and in the end we've won the game. We'll look at the game, learn from it and hopefully move forward from here."
Spurs 3-2 Wolves (Premier League 2)
Spurs: De Bie, Okedina, Hinds, Bowden (c), Fagan-Walcott, Lyons-Foster, Pochettino (Patterson 72), White, Parrott (Richards 46), Mukendi (R Clarke 90), Markanday. Substitutes (not used): Oluwayemi, Dinzeyi.
Wolves: Sondergaard, Buur, Otasowie, Marques (c), Mayounga Ngolou, Bueno (Loiodice 90+1), Gibbs-White (Taylor 36), Perry, Dadashov, Jordao, Campbell (He 82). Substitutes (not used): Nya, Cundle.
Goals: Spurs - Parrott 8, Mukendi 27, Pochettino 45+2; Wolves - Dadashov 77 (pen), 85.
Yellow cards: Spurs - Pochettino 61, Bowden 79; Wolves - Buur 73.
Referee: Gary Parsons.
Venue: Lamex Stadium, Stevenage.
Weather: Clear sky, moderate breeze, four degrees.