Late Markanday winner sees off Saints
Spurs 2-1 Southampton (Premier League 2)
Sat 03 October 2020, 17:51|Tottenham Hotspur
An 84th-minute winner from Dilan Markanday ensured our Under-23s continued their unbeaten start to the Premier League 2 season with a 2-1 victory over Southampton on Saturday afternoon.
Despite dominating the opening period at Hotspur Way, it wasn’t until the second half that we managed to find a way through the Saints' back line with Jack Clarke drilling home the opener - his first goal in our colours - on 48 minutes.
The visitors responded well to that setback and found themselves back on terms 20 minutes later as Josh Sims nipped in to level. Yet, it would be our day as with just six minutes remaining, Markanday bundled home J’Neil Bennett’s cross from close range to earn us all three points.
Under-23s Coach Wayne Burnett named 19-year-old full-back Marcel Lavinier in our starting line-up while 20-year-old centre-back Tobi Omole appeared off the bench in the second half, both players having signed contracts with our Under-23s until the end of the season.
The first period was one of few clear-cut opportunities, but it was one which we largely controlled. Southampton may have come very close to opening the scoring with just four minutes gone through Caleb Watts but, after his goal-bound effort was blocked by a last-ditch lunge from Anthony Georgiou, we went on to dominate the opening exchanges.
On the wings, we were finding time and space but were struggling to test goalkeeper Tommy Scott. Our first chance came just a minute after the Saints' early opportunity, Bennett coming agonisingly close to getting a decisive toe on Markanday’s cross as he bore down on goal. Six minutes later, the winger then turned provider as he played in Kazaiah Sterling, but the striker’s close-range effort was blocked by Christoph Klarer before Clarke fired wide of the far post.
Crucially, though, we were showing the much-needed tenacity and intensity in the first half to continually turn over possession in the centre of the field. It was with that drive that we were able to constantly put the Saints under pressure at the back and, after earning a series of corners, we once again came close to taking the lead.
On 19 minutes, we had the ball in the back of the net from a Clarke corner. Looped in from the left and over the goalkeeper, it found Markanday unmarked at the back post who duly rattled the ball in from four yards out. However, referee Ryan Atkin spotted an infringement in the box and disallowed the goal. Six minutes later, from the right in an almost identical routine, Bennett also looped his corner over the opposition's keeper to pick out Markanday once more but this time the playmaker's effort was cleared after being blocked on the goal-line.
Our endeavour was rewarded at the start of the second period. Continuing from where we had left off before the break, we pushed forward immediately after the restart and won a free-kick on the edge of the box. Harvey White lined up to take it but his attempt on goal was blocked and cleared by the defence, but only to Clarke who, on the edge of the box, took one touch to control the ball before drilling it low and hard into the near corner of the net to give us a deserved lead.
From there, we would have hoped to have built upon our advantage but instead, the visitors roared into life. We were forced into weathering a storm which we did resolutely until the 67th minute. It was then that the south-coast outfit had their first effort on target, then, just a minute later, they were back on terms as Sims was played in by Watts before rounding and finishing past Alfie Whiteman to level the scores.
The men in red and white were in the ascendency from there and should have gone ahead in the minutes that followed as they had two gilt-edged opportunities. On 70 minutes, a ball over the top of our defence played in Kayne Ramsay but, with just the goalkeeper to beat, the full-back couldn't find the necessary touch to get the ball under control. Then, six minutes later, another ball over the top played in Watts but, when he found himself one-on-one with Whiteman, our man between the sticks was quickly down to smoother the forward’s tame strike.
The Saints were then left to rue those missed opportunities as on 84 minutes, we rediscovered our vigour to retake the lead. Holding off a defender with his strength on the right flank, Bennett burst past his man before drilling a low ball across the face of goal. His cross was met by the waiting Markanday, who had the simple task of bundling the ball into the back of the net to restore our advantage.
Spurred on by that late strike, in the final moments we could have further ensured our victory. Bennett again was the provider as he picked out Clarke at the back post but, after cutting inside, the winger couldn't quite find his second goal of the game as his strike was blocked before Kion Etete’s rebound also met the same fate. Despite those late squandered efforts, at the final whistle, victory was confirmed, making it three wins on the trot for our Under-23s in the league as they continue their encouraging start to the campaign.
‘The game is all about reacting to different moments’
Having conceded the equaliser, our Head of Coaching Chris Powell was pleased with the resilience that the players showed to reassert their control of the game and believes our performance was deserving of all three points.
“It's a very positive result for the group - they've carried on the good work that they've done so far this season,” Chris discussed. “It was a game in which we were really on top in the first half and could have put the game to bed – it was just that we couldn’t finish off the chances we'd created and I’m sure Southampton were very happy to go in 0-0 at half time.
“Jack Clarke then scored a very good opening goal, but we couldn’t build on it and to be fair to Southampton, they really tested our resolve. We showed a lot of resilience but unfortunately, they managed to get an equaliser which maybe their 20-minute period deserved, but then we bounced straight back. I think that shows the mentality of the group to come out winners.
“I think Wayne will be really happy with what the team showed today because the work leading up to the game was very clear. We knew we would be in for a tough game – they’ve started off pretty well – but I thought the work this week was all geared towards us putting in the type of performance that we did in the first half – we just needed the goals. We fully deserved them if you look at the statistics and the play, but, of course, you have to convert them. Sadly, we couldn’t get the clean sheet we wanted but the game is all about reacting to different moments and the boys definitely reacted to Southampton's equaliser and went on to get back on top. Then, deservedly in my eyes, we got the winning goal which makes it a really great start for us after the first four games of the season.”
Spurs 2-1 Southampton (Premier League 2)
Spurs: Whiteman, Lavinier, Georgiou, White, Okedina (c), Lyons-Foster (Omole 85), Bennett, Richards (Thorpe 69), Sterling (Etete 82), Markanday, Clarke. Substitutes (not used): Oluwayemi, Pochettino.
Southampton: Scott, Ramsay, Ferry, Klarer, Agbontohoma, Slattery (c), Hesketh, Jankewitz, Sims, Watts (Chauke 84), Olaigbe (Mitchell 29). Substitutes (not used): Tchaptchet, Latham, Morris.
Goals: Spurs - Clarke 48, Markanday 84; Southampton – Sims 68.
Yellow cards: Spurs – Lavinier 12, Bennett 88, Thorpe 90; Southampton – Watts 32, Slattery 33, Klarer 47, Hesketh 78.
Referee: Ryan Atkin.
Venue: Hotspur Way, Enfield.
Weather: Cloudy and breezy with spots of rain, 14 degrees.