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#U23 #PL2 #MatchReport #Brighton #KazaiahSterling

Spoils shared in Under-23s' season opener

Spurs 1-1 Brighton & Hove Albion (Premier League 2)

Sat 12 September 2020, 14:58|Tottenham Hotspur

Our Under-23s were held to a 1-1 draw by Brighton & Hove Albion in their Premier League 2 curtain-raiser at Hotspur Way on Saturday afternoon.

It was the visitors who took the lead on 15 minutes as Teddy Jenks fired in from just inside the box, but we responded immediately to that setback as Kazaiah Sterling was on hand to lash the ball home from close range just 60 seconds later to earn us a point on the opening day.

Included in our starting line-up was 20-year-old defender Keenan Ferguson, who has signed a contract with our Under-23s until the end of the season.

Looking to get straight on the front foot, we made a very impressive start to the behind-closed-doors clash and had three good chances within the opening five minutes. Jack Clarke first tested Brighton keeper Carl Rushworth before Jack Roles saw an effort blocked and Dennis Cirkin struck narrowly wide of the target.

Yet, despite our bright start, on 15 minutes it was the visitors who went in front. Jenks was the man to find the target from just inside the area with a clipped shot, but it was thanks to a strong run and cross from the Seagulls’ number three Alex Cochrane that our opponents claimed the opener.

However, within 60 seconds we were level. Like Brighton’s opener, the key man was wearing number three. Left-back Cirkin forayed forward with power and purpose before the ball trickled through the Brighton defence and fell kindly for Sterling, who turned quickly before firing the ball home.

And from there, we pressed on as we looked to take the lead. Sterling got another sight of goal as he found space in the box to shoot, but his effort this time was saved by Rushworth while Roles also had a good opportunity for us just before the break, but the midfielder couldn’t keep his strike on target.

It was a role reversal at the start of the second period, as Brighton were the side that enjoyed a bright spell of play in the opening five minutes following the restart. However, that was a storm we were able to ride before we started to grow back into the game. Enjoying the vast majority of the possession, we probed and pressed the Brighton defence backwards but struggled to find a way through their compact back line.

The introduction of Dilan Markanday from the bench provided us with a different option in our attack and it was through the speed and dynamic play of the attacking midfielder that we almost capitalised on our dominance of the ball. Neat interplay between Markanday and Harvey White saw the former find enough space on the left to cleverly pick out the lurking Roles. On the edge of the box, the midfielder had time to pick his spot, but Brighton stopper Rushworth was ready and dived acrobatically to palm the curling effort to safety.

I thought everyone equipped themselves well. I thought we worked hard and competed well. Overall, I think we slightly edged the game.

Under-23s coach Wayne Burnett

The visitors had a late chance to steal all three points as Ben Wilson clipped the crossbar with just five minutes remaining, but neither side could quite find the crucial goal to take victory.

'We lacked a little magic at times'

Under-23s Coach Wayne Burnett felt there were some pleasing performances from his troops on Saturday - including a goalscoring display from striker Sterling, who was sidelined for much of last season through injury - but was left looking for that little bit extra from our attacking players.

“I felt that we started very brightly in the first half and perhaps could have been in front,” he said. “You could tell for some that it was the first game, but I thought everyone equipped themselves well. I thought we worked hard and competed well.

“Overall, I think we slightly edged the game, but we just lacked a little magic at times in the final third – a little bit of creativity or someone doing something a little bit special. But that will come. There were some good performances and I’m really pleased for Kazaiah to get a goal after being out for such a long period of time – that will be good for him.”

Spurs 1-1 Brighton & Hove Albion (Premier League 2)

Spurs: Austin, Ferguson, Okedina, Lyons-Foster, Cirkin, Marsh (c), White, Roles, Clarke (Markanday 46), Tracey (Bennett 69), Sterling (Richards 88). Substitutes (not used): De Bie, Pochettino.

Brighton: Rushworth, Yapi (Tanimowo 32), Dendoncker, Roberts (Leonard 59), Cochrane, Weir, Spong (Cashman 64), Gwargis, Jenks, Vukoje, Wilson. Substitutes (not used): Desbois, Furlong.

Match data

Goals: Spurs – Sterling 16; Brighton – Jenks 15.

Yellow cards: Spurs - Clarke 35, White 78; Brighton – Tanimowo 83.

Referee: Tom Bishop.

Venue: Hotspur Way, Enfield.

Weather: Cloudy with some bright spots, 20 degrees.