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#U18 #MatchReport #Brighton #NileJohn

Under-18s draw at Brighton

Brighton 1-1 Spurs (Under-18 Premier League)

Sat 26 September 2020, 14:05|Tottenham Hotspur

Our Under-18s continued their unbeaten start to the season as they earned a 1-1 draw away to Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday lunchtime.

In blustery conditions on the south coast, our hosts took the lead in the early stages with Odel Offiah scoring from close range on seven minutes. But we showed fight to get back into the game and duly found our equaliser on 54 minutes. Yago Santiago was felled as he progressed into the box and, from the resultant penalty, Nile John scored with aplomb to extend our unbeaten run to three games at the start of 2020/21.

Having produced stellar performances in our first two games of the season (4-1 and 2-0 wins over West Ham and Arsenal respectively), we made a slow start to proceedings in East Sussex. Brighton were on the front foot and pressing high while we defended frenetically, struggling to clear our lines. On seven minutes, the hosts got the goal that their early forays had deserved. A corner came in from the left and dropped into an ocean of bodies in the box - amidst a scramble in our goalmouth, the ball fell to defender Offiah who prodded the ball into our net from close range.

Two minutes later and our hosts should have doubled their advantage. Striker Matt Everitt looked certain to score when Jack Leahy picked him out in the middle of the box, but he saw his shot deflected wide. Then, from the resulting corner, they came close once again as we were forced to clear a header off our line.

After a frantic opening 10 minutes, we began to settle into the game and started to get a hold of the ball. On 13 minutes, we could have even had an equaliser but both Dante Cassanova’s 18-yard strike and Dane Scarlett’s rebound effort were well saved by Fynn Talley.

That was our best move of the first period before we were once again penned in by the Seagulls. However, our hosts couldn't make the most of their chances. On 32 minutes, having found himself one-on-one with goalkeeper Thimothee Lo-Tutala, winger Marcus Ifill somehow skewed a near-post opportunity wide of the target. Then, 10 minutes later, for the second time in the opening 45 minutes, we were forced into clearing the ball off the line from another corner.

The second half, though, started much brighter for us. We came out showing much more vigour and composure in our play and it was that patience which brought about the equaliser. Having built from the back, Santiago was picked out in space on the right side of Brighton’s defence. With a burst of pace, he broke into our opponents' box but, as he lined up a strike, his legs were swept away by Ed Turns. A penalty was awarded by the referee and midfielder John did the rest, slotting the ball into the right-hand side of the goal to level the scores.

That seemed to Spur us on and we immediately went in search of the winner. Continuing to find joy down the right flank, substitute Roshaun Mathurin was causing all sorts of problems for the Seagulls’ full-back, however, we couldn’t find the crucial final ball to engage our forwards.

We had enough chances to win, but I would suggest, on the balance of play, a draw was a fair result.

Under-18s Coach Matt Taylor

Brighton on the other hand were finding that final ball and we could have easily found ourselves behind again on two occasions had it not been for the smart saves of Lo-Tutala. Almost identical to his first-half chance, Leahy had another golden opportunity to put his side back in front on 68 minutes, but Lo-Tutala made a crucial block with his outstretched foot to keep the scores level. Five minutes later and again we saw the goalkeeper at his best - this time he produced a double save. First, he reacted quickly to get down low and palm out Cameron Peupion’s near-post effort before he got straight back up to his feet to push Everitt’s follow-up out for a corner.

By the closing stages, the game was end-to-end with both teams looking to find a winner but, at full-time, the scores remained level at 1-1 – a final scoreline that Under-18s Coach Matt Taylor described as “a fair result”.

'Technically, we played some very good stuff'

On the balance of play and considering the stormy coastal conditions, Matt was pleased with the second-half reaction that his side showed to earn a point.

“The weather played a huge part in the game. In the first half, they were on top. When we came in at half-time, because of the strength of the wind, we were quite happy that we came in only 1-0 down. But, in the second half, I thought the boys reacted well. We had enough chances to win, but I would suggest, on the balance of play, a draw was a fair result,” he explained.

“The big thing for me was, in the first half, there weren’t enough players competing with the opposition and I think, in the second half, we were much better at that. Technically, we played some very good stuff. Our movement probably wasn’t as fluid as it has been in the last couple of weeks, but Brighton are a very good team. It was a fair result at the end, I think, considering that Thimothee Lo-Tutala has pulled off a couple of good saves, and so has their goalkeeper. If we'd lost the game, I would have been disappointed and I'd suggest that their coach would have felt exactly the same, had we won.”

Brighton 1-1 Spurs (Under-18 Premier League)

Spurs: Lo-Tutala (c), Cesay, Kyezu (Hackett 60), Devine, Muir, Matthew Craig, Mundle (Mathurin 56), John, Scarlett, Cassanova (Whittaker 69), Santiago. Substitutes (not used): Solberg, Michael Craig.