Under-23s' unbeaten start ended by Rams
Spurs 1-2 Derby County (Premier League 2)
Fri 06 November 2020, 16:02|Tottenham Hotspur
Our Under-23s' unbeaten start to the season came to end on Friday afternoon (6 November), as Derby County ran out 2-1 winners at Hotspur Way.
We had taken a deserved lead on 22 minutes as 16-year-old Alfie Devine marked his first competitive appearance at this level for us by flicking home Harvey White’s corner. However, against the run of play, the visitors found an equaliser 13 minutes later through Jahmal Hector-Ingram before going on to complete the turnaround on 79 minutes, when Jack Stretton fired home from the penalty spot.
The story of the game for us was one of missed opportunities. We had largely controlled proceedings, but were unable to make our dominance on the ball count in the area it mattered most - the scoresheet - as the Rams moved five points clear of us at the top of the Premier League 2 table.
Just six minutes in, we had our first chance. Neat play between White - who lined up in midfield with Danny Rose - and Kion Etete teed up Dilan Markanday on the edge of the box but the winger’s strike was deflected wide of the target. A second useful opening for us came on 18 minutes. Again it was White who played a central role in the move as he offered the support for Jack Clarke to play a quick one-two before the winger sprayed the ball out to the right wing for Devine to run onto. Collecting the ball on the edge of the box, the midfielder managed to pick out the late run of full-back Dennis Cirkin on the left, but the defender could only fire into the side netting.
It seemed only a matter of time until we would get ourselves in front and that duly occurred on 22 minutes. Once more, White was integral to it as his corner picked out Devine’s darting near-post run - the midfielder did the rest as he leapt highest to flick the ball over the head of goalkeeper Brad Foster before it clipped the underside of the bar and crashed down over the line.
We should have then extended our lead four minutes later as Clarke - who, along with White, Cirkin and goalkeeper Brandon Austin, was on the bench for the first team in Bulgaria on Thursday night - showed his ability on the ball to weave past three defenders before finding a yard of space to strike towards goal. However, his drilled effort went narrowly wide of the left-hand upright. Then, on 33 minutes, we came even closer. Devine turned creator as he slid a teasing ball across the six-yard box but both Markanday and Etete collided at the far post as the ball cannoned off the upright and bounced clear.
It was a huge chance missed and we were made to pay for that just two minutes later. Derby broke away down our left, Stretton progressed into the box before having his shot parried by Austin. The rebound fell kindly for Hector-Ingram though, and the striker had the easy job of tapping home into an empty net to level the game against the run of play.
That equaliser was tough to take after we had dominated much of the game to that point, but we didn’t let the setback affect us and instead we pressed to find the advantage again. On 55 minutes, another great opportunity fell for us to do just that. Once more, it was White with the ball into the box, but goalkeeper Foster was alert to parry it away as it headed towards goal. The rebound fell to Markanday but the winger could only send his effort into the side netting.
If we were going to score again, Etete was looking the most likely to find the target - the striker had two great opportunities to help us retake the lead. On 69 minutes, after making space for himself in driving towards the goal, the forward saw a curling strike from 25 yards well saved by Foster. Five minutes later, he was thwarted once more by the Derby keeper as he somehow managed to bat away a point-blank range header.
For the second time in the game, it was a golden opportunity squandered and one that we were made to pay the price for. A mistake at the back on 78 minutes saw Hector-Ingram break into our box, he was then challenged by Jubril Okedina, but the referee adjudged the defender to have fouled the forward and awarded a penalty. Stretton coolly converted from the spot to put the visitors in front.
It was another setback for us but, once again, we responded well and continued to create good opportunities as we searched for the equaliser. Brooklyn Lyons-Foster came close on 84 minutes, but he couldn’t keep his header on target before another chance came Etete’s way in the final minute. It wasn’t to be the forward’s day though as once more, he saw his header palmed away from goal by Foster.
'A really disappointing way to end the unbeaten run…'
Head of Coaching Chris Powell cut a frustrated figure as the dust settled on the defeat. Despite a largely impressive showing, Chris felt it was small mistakes that ultimately cost us the match.
“It was a game that, when you look back at it, over the course of the 90 minutes, we shouldn’t have lost," he said. "We created the better chances and the first-half performance warranted more than the one goal we got. We hit the post, Jack Clarke had an outstanding run and his finish was just wide of the goal and really, we should have been walking in at half-time two or three goals ahead, but we gave away a poor goal, so Derby went in at 1-1. It was totally one-sided but, to be fair to them, they were better in the second half and we never really got our game going. But still, even though we didn’t get going the way we would have liked, their goalkeeper still pulled off three really good saves. We certainly had the better chances.
“It’s a really disappointing way to end the unbeaten run because the players have put in some excellent work and performances since the start of the season and this would have been a real lift for us before the international break. But the players will learn from this. There are moments in games where you have to make sure they count in your favour, because on any little mistake, you can be punished, and sadly, that was the case for us today.”
Spurs 1-2 Derby County (Premier League 2)
Spurs: Austin, Lavinier, Cirkin, Rose, Okedina (c), Lyons-Foster, Markanday (Bennett 72), White, Etete, Devine, Clarke (Pochettino 79). Substitutes (not used): De Bie, Omole, Pedder.
Derby: Foster, McDonald, A Brown, Hutchinson, J Brown (c), Minkley, Shonibare, Dixon, Stretton, Hector-Ingram (Cresswell 87), Watson (Thompson 82). Substitutes (not used): Sykes-Kenworthy, Duncan, Bardell.
Goals: Spurs - Devine 22; Derby – Hector-Ingram 35, Stretton 79 (pen).
Yellow cards: Spurs – Lyons-Foster 30, Cirkin 45+1, White 60; Derby – Minkley 10, McDonald 28, Stretton 51, Hector-Ingram 87.
Referee: Alan Dale.
Venue: Hotspur Way, Enfield.
Weather: Cloudy with some bright spots, 10 degrees.