Under-18s cruise past Canaries
Norwich City 0-2 Spurs (Under-18 Premier League)
Sat 07 November 2020, 13:50|Tottenham Hotspur
Our Under-18s returned to winning ways in the Under-18 Premier League on Saturday as they ran out 2-0 winners at Norwich City.
What had started as a tightly-fought contest at Norwich’s Lotus Training Centre quickly turned into a very one-sided affair. Just 12 minutes in, the Canaries’ captain Saxon Earley was dismissed following two yellow cards and we made sure to quickly capitalise on our man advantage. Just five minutes after Earley's dismissal, we were in front through Tarrelle Whittaker as the forward volleyed home from eight yards out and, four minutes later, Kallum Cesay gave us an important second goal with a clinical finish.
Without a win in their last two outings following a four-game unbeaten start to the new season, our youngsters set out on the front foot in Norwich. Just four minutes in, we had our first opportunity as Whittaker neatly played in Dane Scarlett, but the striker was unable to divert the ball past our hosts' goalkeeper Sam Blair. That intent, though, was a sign of things to come.
Like us, the Canaries were also showing appetite in the opening exchanges, however, on 12 minutes, the entire complexion of the game changed as the home side were reduced to 10 men. Norwich’s skipper Earley had already been shown a yellow card with just eight minutes on the clock as he committed a professional foul to prevent from us breaking away on the counter. The central midfielder then left the referee with little choice but to show him a second yellow just four minutes later as he challenged Matthew Craig just inside our half.
With the advantage in numbers, we then took the game by the scruff of the neck and quickly got ourselves in front. It was through the control of Cesay and Craig in the centre of midfield that we were enjoying plenty of possession and that allowed Yago Santiago to find pockets of space in and around a tightly-packed Norwich defence. On 17 minutes, Santiago found a gap in the box to exploit and hooked a cross towards the back stick. Scarlett was there to win it, heading the ball back across the box for the lurking Whittaker, who swiftly fired past Blair on the volley to give us the lead.
It was an important breakthrough, but we didn’t let up as we immediately pressed for a second. That duly came on 21 minutes as Cesay burst into the box and held off his man before turning sharply to clinically finish into the bottom left-hand corner of the net.
Two goals ahead, we looked comfortable and appeared unnerved at any glimpse of our goal that our opponents had. Marqes Muir and Maksim Paskotsi remained resolute and composed at the heart of our defence, which allowed full-backs Jordan Hackett and Dermi Lusala to add their support to the attack as we searched for further goals.
We had plenty of possession and enjoyed numerous forays forward into the final third, but we were just unable to find both that final pass and the required finish. Romaine Mundle came closest to a third for us before the break, but only as Blair allowed the winger’s long-range shot to squirm through his hands – it eventually rolled out for a corner.
We continued in the same manner after the restart - we saw much of the ball but just couldn’t quite find the third goal that we were searching for. On 55 minutes, Whittaker came very close as he weaved his way into the box before drilling a shot towards goal, well saved by Blair. With just 15 minutes of the game remaining, we then had a golden opportunity to further extend our lead. Some neat interplay released substitute Khalon Haysman on the wing and the midfielder dug out a cross that put the ball on a plate for Craig at the back post but, with the goal at his mercy, he could not keep his header down.
In the final seconds of the contest, our hosts did carve out a promising opportunity for themselves as they looked to get on the scoresheet, but, after managing to complete the hard job of breaking through our defence, striker Tom Dickson-Peters' curler sailed over the crossbar.
‘At times I just felt we played a little bit safe today...’
Under-18s Coach Matt Taylor was pleased that his side got back to winning ways after the high-scoring draw with Reading a fortnight ago, but admitted that, in light of advantage we had in numbers on the pitch for 78 minutes of the game, the final scoreline left him wanting more.
“I think the positive that has come out of the game today is that we won," he said. "Truth be told, when the opposition went down to 10 men, I thought that we would have imposed ourselves more on the game, but we didn’t, and we probably didn’t work hard enough against 10 men with the ball. When you're playing against a team with 10 men, they'll tend to defend their box and their goal with more vigour. We didn’t move the ball quick enough at times to open them up.
“At times I just felt we played a little bit safe today. I understand why because a couple of our recent results probably haven’t been what we wanted. I think maybe the disappointing thing for us is, because we had so much of the ball, I would have expected us to be more inventive with it around their box, but that’s because of the belief I have in the players - we see them every day and we see their ability. The biggest thing now is for the players to demand more from each other – both on and off the ball – and play a style of football some would say is risky, but it's the type of football our young players at Tottenham Hotspur should be playing. As I say, the positive from today is that we won the game and that’s obviously pleasing considering the last couple of results haven’t been what we wanted.”
Norwich City 0-2 Spurs (Under-18 Premier League)
Spurs: Lo-Tutala (c), Lusala (Michael Craig 59), Hackett, Matthew Craig (Haysman 72), Muir, Paskotsi, Whittaker, Cesay, Scarlett, Santiago (Carrington 72), Mundle. Substitute (not used): Hayton.