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Missed chances cost Under-18s in top-of-the-table clash

Spurs 0-2 Aston Villa (Under-18 Premier League)

Sat 17 October 2020, 14:51|Tottenham Hotspur

Our Under-18s were handed their first defeat of the season despite a committed performance against Aston Villa on Saturday.

In a second-v-first battle at Hotspur Way, pitting the Under-18 Premier League southern division’s only two unbeaten sides against each other, we were dominant on the ball throughout the first half and in the opening exchanges of the second with Alfie Devine twice, Tarrelle Whittaker twice and Kallum Cesay all going close to giving us a deserved lead.

Thimothee Lo-Tutala had made a couple of important saves in the first half, but was beaten on 55 minutes when we failed to clear our lines and Lamare Bogarde fired low into the net from inside a crowded area.

We kept pushing and midfielder Devine went clean through on goal, only to be brought down by last defender Sil Swinkels, who was sent off as a result, but the visitors kept themselves in the game despite their numerical disadvantage and scored again when substitute Tristan Goodridge’s free-kick went under the wall and into the bottom corner via a slight deflection, maintaining Villa’s 100 per cent record with a 2-0 final scoreline that meant we missed the chance to leapfrog them into top spot.

Yago Santiago was causing Villa problems down our left side in the first half and it was his cut-back that was hammered against the crossbar by Devine after 17 minutes. Santiago went close with a couple of attempts himself while Whittaker’s shot-on-the-turn from inside the box was kept out by goalkeeper Filip Marschall in another good opportunity for us.

Lo-Tutala had to be alert to deny Brad Young, Arjan Raikhy and Kahrel Reddin towards the end of the first period, but we applied sustained pressure on the resumption to try to force our way ahead. Whittaker’s shot from Santiago’s cut-back was saved by Marschall, Devine’s back-post drive from Kallum Cesay’s cross was tipped over just seconds later, before Cesay himself shot over the bar as he arrived to meet Jordan Hackett’s cross on the right side – the ball just wouldn’t quite sit up for him to guide his effort on target.

Despite our dominance, it was the visitors who snatched the lead on 55 minutes when they kept the ball away from us in our box and Dewain Sewell slid across from the left for Bogarde to take a touch and guide his shot inside the far post from 10 yards out.

Eight minutes later, Villa were reduced to 10 men after Swinkels brought down Devine as he stormed through on goal, with Whittaker’s resulting free-kick tipped over by Marschall. But with 20 minutes left, the visitors struck a killer second blow as Goodridge won a free-kick off Marqes Muir just outside the area before sending his free-kick under the wall and into the bottom corner of the net.

In the second half we started extremely well, had two or three chances saved and that seemed to knock any momentum out of us.

Under-18s Coach Matt Taylor

“11-v-11 we were the better team, but 11-v-10 we weren’t”

Under-18s Coach Matt Taylor, who made two changes to the team that beat Fulham last time out, reflected: “I thought Villa started the game better than we did but after 10 or 15 minutes we got a foothold in the game, we created some really good chances, but ultimately the moments that dictate whether you win or lose, we weren’t on them often enough. We had some chances that I would expect our players to take and we didn’t. In the second half we started extremely well, had two or three chances saved and that seemed to knock any momentum out of us. Unfortunately we conceded the first goal, which was difficult to take, then when they went down to 10 men I fancied us to get back into it and take the game to Aston Villa, but we never did and that for me was the most disappointing thing. Then the free-kick with 20 minutes to go just completely killed the game off.

“Hopefully today is a learning experience, because I thought 11-v-11 we were the better team, but 11-v-10 we weren’t. We’ve got good competition for places all over the pitch and everybody now on Monday needs to report for training in a good frame of mind and train well next week with a view to being selected next Saturday against Reading. Today, there were some instances where chances weren’t taken by players and that’s ultimately the name of the game.”

Spurs 0-2 Aston Villa (Under-18 Premier League)

Spurs: Lo-Tutala (c), Cesay, Hackett, Matthew Craig, Paskotsi, Muir, Whittaker (Mathurin 71), Devine (Carrington 68), Scarlett, John, Santiago (Michael Craig 71). Substitutes (not used): Solberg, Haysman.